This is quite a hot question that I get a lot when delivering trainings or helping customers. While most of them know the value, what actually is they do not know. The Tombstone Lifetime is an attribute of the Directory Services object which can be found with ADSI Edit here: CN=Directory Service,CN=Windows NT,CN=Services,CN=Configuration,DC=WindowsRockstar,DC=com.
The attribute by default can have 2 values, depending on the OS version that was used when the forest was initially deployed. It can have no value – this translates to the fact that the forest was started in Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008. This means the Tombstone Lifetime is 60 days. Starting with Windows Server 2008 R2 the value of the Tombstone Lifetime attribute is 180 days.
The minimum value that we can set the Tombstone Lifetime to is 2 days. If we set it to less it will default to 60 days ( Windows Server 2000, Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server 2008) or 2 days starting with Windows Server 2008 R2 and later.
Below you have an image with the default value in Windows Server 2022
Finding out the tombstone lifetime is easy and I wrote about it here.
During my daily work I encounter a lot of confusion about this topic.
Let’s first discuss couple of basic things about the backup of Active Directory and why it is so important to use a Microsoft supported solution.
When we are in a Disaster Recovery scenario and we need to restore our Active Directory forest we want to know that we can rely on Microsoft for help. In order to be able to do this we need to use a supported solution which is Windows Server backup.
What is the first step in our Disaster Recovery process?
Document your infrastructure! Document your topology!
What should we document?
The forest name
All domain names (root and child domain names, including NETBIOS name)
Domain Controller names, IP addresses, gateway, DNS settings, VLAN
What Site my domain controller is in?
The sites topology, site links, replication schedules, connection objects (aka replication topology)
Owner of the FSMO roles
What kind of backup we are taking from that Domain Controller? (Full Server Backup, System state, Bare metal ?)
What hardware I am running on ?
What virtualization platform I am using?
The next step is to take a proper backup. Modern Windows Server backup operating systems are not coming with Windows Server Backup installed by default, so the first thing would be to install it. To do that you need to go to Server Manager, Manage, add Roles and Features, go to features and select Windows Server backup, then install it.
After you install it go to Server Manager, Tools and Windows Server Backup
After Windows Server Backup has started, clock on Local Backup then go on the right side to Backup Schedule.
After the wizard starts click on Next, then you have two options: Full Server (recommended) or Custom.
If we select Full Server then all the needed data will be backed up, including Bare Metal recovery, System State, Recovery partition, and the content of the disk drives.
If we select Custom then we need to go click on Add items
Then the selection part opens
What should we backup from here? The answer is: it depends. If we want to be able to perform a full forest recovery then we should backup everything (at least Bare Metal recovery, System State, recovery partition and the C: Drive). If we want to perform a non-authoritative restore of Active Directory we can backup the System State.
After we decide what to backup we need to decide where we will point the backup – dedicated disk, a volume or a network share. Microsoft’s recommendation is to backup to a dedicated disk.
I will backup the full server to a disk.
After clicking Finish the disk will be formatted and will be used for the backup.
The backup will run as scheduled.
To answer the question: How long can I use my Active Directory backup? The answer is for: the duration of your Tombstone Lifetime setting. If your forest was started back in the 2003 days or older the default setting will be 60 days, starting with Windows Server 2008 R2 is 180 days.
So the answer will be: for 60 or 180 days from the moment you took your backup, depending on your tombstone lifetime!
I will discuss about the tombstone lifetime in a different article.
The first update rollup for SCVMM 2019 has been release by Microsoft on February 4th.
This fixes several issues:
Unable to add Windows Server 2019 hosts in untrusted domain to SCVMM.
Changes to VM network adapter or VM network overwrites associated ACL.
Unable to pull LLDP information on pNICs bount to a vSwitch.
Long running service template deployments time out after 3 hours. Timeout parameter can now be configured to time above 3 hours using the HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Server\Settings\GuestCommunicatorStatusTimeoutSecs registry key to any desired value.
VMM service experiences high memory usagewith large number of objects created in tbl_ADHC_HostVolume
Unable to assign VMnetwork to VMs on the hosts
Automatic Dynamic Optimizationfails on clusters in untrusted domain
VMM jobs take long time to run whenever there is VMM server fail over to another node.
Storage Provider Refresh fails when the NIC has no MAC present.
Unable to create a file share with the same nameon different file servers through SCVMM console.
Cluster creation fails when VMM service is running undergMSA account with ‘Access denied’ exception.
In addition to these, all the issuesfixed in System Center 2016 VMM UR8 and prior URs for VMM 2016 are also fixed in System Center VMM 2019 UR1.
New Features have been added into SCVMM 2019:
Ability to deploy Ubuntu 18.04 VMs
Nested virtualization can be enabled via VM templates, service templates and also when creating a new VM from the console
Cluster rolling upgrade is now supported for S2D clusters.
Deduplication is supported on ReFS volumes for Hyperconverged and SOFS
Storage DO (Dynamic Optimization) – helps in preventing cluster shared storage (CSV and file shares) from becoming full due to expansion/new VHDs placed on the cluster shared storage. You can now set a threshold value to trigger a warning when free storage space in the cluster shared storage falls below the threshold, during a new disk placement or auto migration of VHDs to other shared storage in the cluster
Support for storage health monitoring
Storage health monitoring helps you to monitor the health and operational status of storage pool, LUNs, and physical disks in the VMM fabric. You can monitor the storage health in the Fabric page of VMM console.
VMM 2019 supports configuration of SLB VIPs while deploying multi-tier application by using the service templates
VMM 2019 supports encryption of VM networks. Using the new encrypted networks feature, end-to-end encryption can be easily configured on VM networks by using the network controller (NC). This encryption prevents the traffic between two VMs on the same network and same subnet, from being read and manipulated. The control of encryption is at the subnet level and encryption can be enabled/disabled for each subnet of the VM network.
In VMM 2019, you can configure Layer 3 forwarding gateway using the VMM console
Support for Static MAC address on VMs deployed on a VMM cloud This feature allows you to set static MAC address on VMs deployed on a cloud. You can also change the MAC address from static to dynamic and vice versa for the already deployed VMs.
Azure Integration – VM update management through VMM using Azure Automation Subscription. VMM 2019 is introducing the possibility of patching and updating on-prem VMs (managed by VMM) by integrating VMM with Azure automation subscription.
New RBAC Role – Virtual Machine Administrator
In a scenario where enterprises want to create a user role for troubleshooting, it is necessary that the user has access to all the VMs so the user can make any required changes on the VMs to resolve the issue. There is also a need for the user to have access to the fabric to identify the root cause for the issue. However, for security reasons, this user should not be given the privileges to make any changes on the fabric (such as add storage, add hosts etc. The current role-based access control (RBAC) in VMM does not have a role defined for this persona and the existing roles of Delegated Admin and Fabric admin have too little or more than necessary permissions to perform just troubleshooting. To address this issue, VMM 2019 supports a new role called Virtual Machine Administrator. The user of this role has Read and Write access to all VMs but read-only access to the fabric.
Group Managed Service Account (gMSA) helps improve the security posture and provides convenience through automatic password management, simplified service principle name (SPN) management, and the ability to delegate the management to other administrators. VMM 2019 supports the use of gMSA for Management server service account.
New features added by Update Rollup 1:
Support for management of replicated library shares
Large enterprises, usually have multi-site datacenter deployments to cater to various offices across globe. These enterprises typically have a locally available library server to access files for VM deployment than accessing the library shares from a remote location. This is to avoid any network related issues one might experience. However, library files need to be consistent across all the datacenters to ensure uniform VM deployments. To maintain uniformity of library contents, organizations use replication technologies. VMM now supports the management of library servers, which are replicated. You can use any replication technologies such as DFSR and manage the replicated shares through VMM.
Configuration of DCB settings on S2D clusters
Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) in conjunction with Data Center Bridging (DCB) helps to achieve similar level of performance and losslessness in an Ethernet network as in fiber channel networks. VMM 2019 UR1 supports configuration of data center bridging (DCB) on S2D clusters.
You must configure the DCB settings consistently across all the hosts and the fabric network (switches). A mis-configured DCB setting in any one of the host/fabric device is detrimental to the S2D performance.
User experience improvements in logical networks
In VMM 2019 UR1, user’s experience while creating logical networks has been enhanced. Logical networks are now grouped in product description, based on use-cases. Also, provided illustration for each logical network type and a dependency graph.
Additional options to enable nested virtualization
You can now enable nested virtualization while creating a new VM, deploying VMs through VM templates and service templates. In earlier releases, nested virtualization is supported only on deployed VMs. Learn more about enabling nested virtualization.