In my last post, I gave you an overview of the essential benefits of Blackbird recovery. Today, I will describe the Active Directory backup tool's architecture and its main functions.

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Data handler ^

The diagram above gives you an overview of Blackbird recovery's architecture. As you can see, you have to install an agent, the Blackbird Data Handler, on all your domain controllers to enable the collection of a continuous change log. This agent is not only for Blackbird continuous recovery but for all the other modules of the Blackbird Management Suite. The agent collects the data and directly stores it into a Microsoft SQL Server (or SQL Server Express) database.

Backup data storage ^

It is important to note that Blackbird recovery leverages a very efficient gather and store mechanism. Objects are stored in binary format in the database requiring very little space. The first scheduled collection gathers every object that is configured as part of the collection. On subsequent scheduled collections only objects that have changed are gathered and stored minimizing the traffic on the wire and the backend storage requirements.

This allows for the recovery of Active directory objects and the continuous coverage allows the rollback of any unwanted change without losing all of the changes since the last backup as with other solutions. Moreover, Blackbird recovery is able to restore Active Directory objects very quickly because it doesn't store the backup in a flat file like conventional backup tools, no need to find what file or files have the correct information and waiting for them to uncompress before you can perform the recovery.

The SQL Server doesn't have to be on the same physical server as the Blackbird Server, the core of the Blackbird Management Suite, but it also doesn't hurt if you run them on the same machine.

Backup data objects ^

Blackbird recovery supports backups of domain-specific data such as users, groups, OUs, DNS data, and GPOs. You can back up forest-wide data including Active Directory Sites and Services data and schema classes and attributes.

Please note that rollback of GPOs and certain DNS deletions can’t be undone with continuous data protection (CDP) they will need to utilize scheduled backups. I will discuss the difference between CDP and scheduled backups in my next post.

Also notice that only schema changes can be restored, but not schema extensions. The reason for this is that removing schema extensions is not supported by Microsoft. So, for example, if you install Exchange in your domain you wouldn't be able to roll back the corresponding Active Directory schema extensions.

User interface ^

The Blackbird client in the diagram is the front end of the suite. It is a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in which allows you run the Blackbird's user interface together with Microsoft's own management tools in one console. In addition, some of the Blackbird features are integrated in Microsoft's RSAT tools.

Active Directory Backup - Blackbird Recovery MMC

For instance, you can restore objects directly from the Active Directory User and Computer (ADUC) interface. (I will explain this in more detail in another post.) This also means that you can manage Blackbird recovery from your desktop without logging on to the Blackbird server via RDP. Likewise, the tight integration with Microsoft's management tools helps you to learn very quickly how to use the Blackbird recovery.

In my next post, I will explain how Blackbird recovery for AD has to be configured.

To participate in the competition for a chance to win a Blackbird recovery license, worth $1,800 USD, please send an email to:


with the subject line:

Blackbird recovery.

You can also use this contact form.

The deadline of this contest is August 31, 2010.


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