Active Directory / Domain Controller FAQs

On this page, you can learn more about Active Directory and how you can use Backup for Workgroups to backup this important company data.

Q:  What is Active Directory?

Active Directory is included with Windows Server 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008, Small Business Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Small Business Server 2003.  It provides you with a convenient way to centrally manage computers, users, and peripherals on your network.

Active Directory is an important database that should be included in the overall backup of any Windows Server.  When it comes to backing up Active Directory, Backup for Workgroups includes the backup of Active Directory as part of the Open File Add-on.

Q:  What is a Domain Controller?

A Domain Controller is a Windows Server running Active Directory.

Q:  Why do I need to backup Active Directory?

  • Because disaster recovery of your Domain Controller cannot complete without the Active Directory information being restored.

    When you need to perform a disaster recovery of a Domain Controller, you need to have the Active Directory database backed up in order to restore the computer.  Without the Active Directory database, Windows will not allow any user to login to a restored Domain Controller.
  • To maintain the unique security ID numbers assigned by Active Directory to every user and device it controls.

    Security ID numbers are used by applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server to validate user existence and rights.  These security IDs are unique in that if you delete a user account and later recreate this user, Active Directory will assign a new, different security ID number.  As a result, any application that holds references to older security ID numbers will be denied access to the recreated user because their security ID has changed.
  • Exchange Server relies on Active Directory to distribute e-mail to users.

    If Exchange Server cannot access the Active Directory user account, all your users previous e-mail data is inaccessible.   This means that any Exchange Server restoration must have the current Active Directory in order to maintain the e-mail settings for each user.
  • Because it is easy to add to a Client's backup set!

    If you have any computers running Active Directory, go to the Backup Server computer and check the option for "Open File" under the Client Account and it will be available as an item to include in a Backup Set. It is that easy. 

Q:  Do I need to use an Add-On to backup Active Directory?

Yes - The Open File Add-On is used to backup up Active Directory on Windows 2019, 2016, 2012 / 2008 / 2003 Servers. 

   Q:  How do I activate the Open File Add-On?

The Open File Add-on is active by default when you setup a new installation of Backup for Workgroups.  To verify that the Open File add-on is active - go to the Backup Server and select the Clients panel.  Select the name of the Client computer for which you would like to use to backup your Domain Controller and then press the Modify button.  Now you can check/tick the Open File Add-On options and be sure to save your changes. 

   Q:  How do I restore Active Directory?

The process of restoring Active Directory is dependent upon whether Active Directory is still running or not. You do not need to know whether Active Directory is running (or not) to complete a restoration. Backup for Workgroups will lead you through the restoration process that is appropriate for your environment.

  • Restoring Active Directory When Active Directory is NOT Running - If you need to perform a bare metal restore, you will be restoring Active Directory to a computer that is not running Active Directory. During the restoration process of the System Registry, Backup for Workgroups automatically restores the appropriate Active Directory information. You do not need to complete any additional steps. Once the computer running Active Directory is restored, your Active Directory computer is back to normal operation.
  • Restoring Active Directory When Active Directory IS Running - Because Windows will not allow for the restoration of Active Directory while it is running, the process of restoring Active Directory in this case is divided into two (2) parts. The Backup Client completes the first part for you when you select a restoration process containing Active Directory. The second part requires user intervention and cannot be automated.
  • Visit our Support Center to read the specific steps you will need to perform when restoring Active Directory on a computer that already has Active Directory running on it.

Be sure to check out more of our FAQs if you still have questions.

If you are looking for detailed steps on how to do things with Backup for Workgroups, take a look at our Support Center for detailed How-To instructions.


Everyday, thousands of corporations, non-profits, and Government agencies use Backup for Workgroups Backup Software to backup their Windows Servers!  You can too!

Here are just a few of our many customers...