Do I need the Active Directory Recovery Agent?

Version 11d of Backup Exec introduced the Active Directory Recovery Agent, but do you actually need it? Contrary to some belief, you don't need the agent to backup Active Directory.

Backup Exec has been able to backup Active Directory data for ages. It's backed up as part of the System State on a domain controller. So if you backup System State on a domain controller (and you should), then you backup Active Directory.

Without the agent you can easily restore the whole of Active Directory in the event of disaster (where you rebuild your IT system from backups). It is also possible to restore Active Directory from a backup, overwriting the existing Active Directory data (using NTDSUTIL). It is also possible to use NTDSUTIL to restore parts of Active Directory, for example if you have accidentally deleted an entire organisational unit. However, this is not straightforward, and not something you'd hope to be doing frequently.

Where the agent pays dividends is if you have to restore parts of Active Directory frequently. The agent makes this process much simpler by allowing you to restore individual components of Active Directory. If this is something you need to do often, then perhaps the Active Directory Recovery Agent is for you.