How to Backup Windows Active Directory using Azure Backup

In this post, I will talk about a new feature in Azure backup which allows a customer to take a backup of his System State to Azure. System state backup on a domain controller contains the Active Directory backup.
Backing-up System State data – Backing-up system state data allows a customer to backup following from a windows server
  • Boot files, including the system files, and all files protected by Windows File Protection (WFP).
  • Active Directory (on a domain controller only).
  • Sysvol (on a domain controller only).
  • Certificate Services (on certification authority only).
  • Cluster database (on a cluster node only).
  • The registry.
  • Performance counter configuration information.
  • Component Services Class registration database.
How to Backup System State using Azure Backup
Requirements –

Supported windows operating system for Azure Backup

Operating System Platform SKU
Windows 8 and latest SPs 64 bit Enterprise, Pro
Windows 7 and latest SPs 64 bit Ultimate, Enterprise, Professional, Home Premium, Home Basic, Starter
Windows 8.1 and latest SPs 64 bit Enterprise, Pro
Windows 10 64 bit Enterprise, Pro, Home
Windows Server 2016 64 bit Standard, Datacenter, Essentials
Windows Server 2012 R2 and latest SPs 64 bit Standard, Datacenter, Foundation
Windows Server 2012 and latest SPs 64 bit Datacenter, Foundation, Standard
Windows Storage Server 2016 and latest SPs 64 bit Standard, Workgroup
Windows Storage Server 2012 R2 and latest SPs 64 bit Standard, Workgroup
Windows Storage Server 2012 and latest SPs 64 bit Standard, Workgroup
Windows Server 2012 R2 and latest SPs 64 bit Essential
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 64 bit Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Foundation
Windows Server 2008 SP2 64 bit Standard, Enterprise, Datacenter, Foundation


Create a recovery services vault

To back up system state, you need to create a Recovery Services vault in the Azure portal by selecting the region where you want to backup your system state data. You also need to determine how you want your storage to be replicated (LRS or GRS).

Since I have already created a vault in my previous blogs, please refer Azure Backup for Azure VMs for recovery services vault creation.

Getting Started with Backup Configuration –
Select your backup goal

Logon to Windows AD Server and open Azure console, or perform these steps on your client computer and copy the downloaded files to your Active Directory server.

select recovery vault > Getting Started > Backup > Select System State and click OK



Select download agent for Windows server or Windows Client and also download the vault credentials mentioned under section 2

This will download – 

MARSAgentInstaller.exe – Backup executable to setup the Azure backup service

VaultCredentials file – Vault credential file is required to register your Active Directory server to your Azure recovery services vault.


 Once downloaded, copy these files to Windows Active Directory server and run “MARSAgentInstaller.exe” to kick start the setup




Click Next to Proceed –  If your Active Directory Server connects to the Internet using Proxy. Add the proxy address.


Install all the required components and select – Proceed to registeration


 Select the Vault credentials (Vault credentials will help to register this server to your recovery vault ) – Delete the vault credential file after a successful registeration of server
Provide Passphrase, and remember and save this passphrase, this passphrase will be required if you need to restore the system state on any other server than the one you configured your backup on. “Passphrase is the key for your backup”
Select Launch Microsoft Azure Recovery Services agent to schedule the backup for SystemState
This will open up Microsoft Azure Backup console




Select System State for Windows Active Directory Backup 11
The System State Backup and Retention schedule is automatically set to back up every Sunday at 9:00 PM local time, and the retention period is set to 60 days.This will select the System State backup for 60 days (As of 2/9/2017). this may change in future – Click Finish to finish the backup


For more information on System State backup using Azure backup please visit  here