As a system administrator, you might face situations where a Domain Controller (DC) in your network fails due to hardware issues or software corruption. In such cases, restoring the DC from a snapshot can be a lifesaver. A snapshot is an image of the system’s state at a particular point in time, and restoring from it can bring back the system to that state. In this article, we will discuss how to restore a Domain Controller from a snapshot, step by step.

Understanding the Importance of Domain Controllers

Before we jump into the process of restoring a Domain Controller from a snapshot, let’s first understand why DCs are crucial for a network. In simple words, a Domain Controller is a server that manages network security and enables users to access shared resources, such as printers and files, on the network. It is the backbone of the Active Directory (AD) infrastructure, which is responsible for authentication and authorization in a Windows environment.

Reverting a snapshot of an active Domain Controller can be a risky and problematic issue.

If you are considering using this procedure it should be your very LAST option.  This is not a supported Microsoft procedure and use of it could cause fatal issues to Active Directory.

Reassess your environment and take the proper steps to ensure this recovery model doesn’t have to be used again.

Use at your own risk!

What are the risks with doing this?

The risks of reverting a snapshot of a Domain Controller are significant and can have severe consequences for an organization’s Active Directory infrastructure. Some of the potential risks include:

  1. Data loss: Reverting a snapshot of an Active Domain Controller can result in data loss, as the snapshot may not contain all of the latest changes to the Active Directory.

  2. Active Directory corruption: The Active Directory database may become corrupted during the snapshot revert process, leading to issues with authentication, authorization, and other critical services.

  3. Replication problems: The snapshot revert process can cause problems with replication between Domain Controllers, leading to inconsistencies in the Active Directory data across different servers.

  4. Service disruptions: The snapshot revert process can result in disruptions to critical services, such as DNS, that depend on the Active Directory.

  5. Security risks: The snapshot revert process can result in security risks, as it may expose sensitive data or compromise the security of the Active Directory infrastructure.

It is important to carefully consider the potential risks and consequences before attempting to revert a snapshot of an Active Domain Controller. It is recommended to only use this procedure as a last resort, and to thoroughly research and understand the potential risks before proceeding.

Preparing for the Restoration

Before you start the restoration process, you need to ensure that you have a snapshot of the Domain Controller that you want to restore. It is essential to note that restoring a DC from a snapshot is a risky process and should be performed only when no other options are available. Moreover, you must have a proper backup and recovery plan in place to avoid any data loss during the restoration.

Steps to revert a Domain Controller Snapshot

1)      Revert to your last known good snapshot

2)      Disable your network card so that it is unable to talk to the network

3)      Note the value of your Invocation Id

  • From a command prompt run the following command
  • Repadmin /showrepl

4)      Reboot your Domain Controller and make sure you boot into Directory Services Restore Mode

5)      Stop the NTFRS service

6)      From a command prompt start Regedit

  • Drill down to HKLM – System – CurrentControlSet – Services – NTDS – Parameters
  • Modify the RegKey “Database restored from backup” = 1
  • If this RegKey doesn’t exist create one as a DWORD and set to a 1
  • If the RegKey DSA Previous Restore Count exists in the same path, note its value.  Upon reboot it should increment by one.  If it didn’t exist it should be created and it should be set to a value of 1.
  • Drill down to HKLM – SYSTEM – CurrentControlSet – Services – NtFrs – Parameters – Backup – Restore – Process
  • Modify the RegKey BurFlags to D2

7)      Reboot the server

8)      Log back in to the Domain Controller

  • Verify that the Invocation Id has changed
  • In the Event Log look for the Event Id 1109 (AD restored from backup)

9)      If both events have occurred in bullet point 8 then, enable the network card again

Best Practices for Restoring a Domain Controller from a Snapshot

Here are some best practices that you should follow while restoring a Domain Controller from a snapshot:

Best Practice 1: Ensure the Snapshot is Consistent

Make sure that the snapshot is consistent and the system is shut down gracefully before taking the snapshot.

Best Practice 2: Test the Snapshot

Before performing the actual restoration, test the snapshot on a test environment to ensure that the restoration process goes smoothly.

Best Practice 3: Have a Backup Plan in Place

Always have a backup plan in place and test it regularly to ensure that it is effective.

Best Practice 4: Monitor the DC after Restoration

Monitor the Domain Controller closely after the restoration to ensure that it is functioning correctly.


Restoring a Domain Controller from a snapshot can be a lifesaver in critical situations. However, it is a risky process and should be performed only when no other options are available. It is essential to have a proper backup and recovery plan in place and follow the best practices while restoring a Domain Controller