Thank you very much Tom for taking your time to write this guide. I am on vacation until Jan 10th, which explains my very sporadic forum attendance lately.
m.novelli wrote:Long story short: this procedure doesn't work for a restored Domain Controller from an image-level backup (Veeam Backup, VCB-integrated backup, SAN snapshot)
Marco, you are 100% correct, just restoring latest VM copy of DC for example will cause USN rollback which completely trashes your DC (you have to demote it, and go through pains of manually cleaning up references to old DC in AD configuration).
This is exactly why Veeam is shipping proprietary VSS integration module for "proper" backups and restores. Our agent executes automatically before the actual VM snapshot is created, if you have Veeam VSS enabled, of course. Just investigate the Windows Event log for DC/Exchange/SQL/etc. after backup with Veeam, and you will see the corresponding VSS events there. Also, after restore with Veeam, you will see events of successful shadow copy restore.
I actually have 1.5 years old videos for both scenarios (restoring simple DC VM copy, and restoring Veeam DC backup).Preparing the test lab (2 DCs)
(Windows 2003)Restoring regular DC VM copy
(ouch, USN rollback)Restoring Veeam DC backup
(feel the power of Veeam VSS)
While you are mentioning DC and Exchange, it should be noted that these two require even more complex VSS backup/restore approach than other VSS-aware apps, as Microsoft requires certain custom restore procedures performed for these applications to ensure successful restore. For example, DC should be first booted into the safe mode (Directory Services Restore mode) to ensure Active Directory files are not locked by additional processes like antivirus when VSS restore is being performed). This is something Veeam VSS also implements, and it is fully automated - as you can see from the video above, no manual steps are required (well, in case of non-authoritative restore, and Tom has already covered the authoritative one).
All this functionality is actually unique to Veeam among all image-level backups... yet another reason to choose Veeam - by the way, we have this functionality since 2008.