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Directory Services Restore Mode

What is DSRM?

Directory Services Restore Mode (DSRM) is a special boot mode for repairing or recovering Active Directory. It is used to log on to the computer when Active Directory has failed or needs to be restored.

You can log on to DSRM by using a special DSRM password that you set when you promoted the domain controller. Use the logon account name MyComputer\Administrator (language may vary). For MyComputer use the name of the computer.

Windows Server 2000 or 2003: To load Active Directory you must boot DSRM. UMove will offer to automatically reboot the computer to DSRM and resume the interview where it left off.

Windows Server 2008: DSRM is rarely needed on Windows Server 2008 (W2K8). AD can be stopped and re-started on W2K8 without a reboot, making DSRM unnecessary. On W2K8 DSRM is only needed when doing a domain-wide restore or a forest-wide restore, or when AD is so damaged that it will not boot.

How to Boot DSRM

To manually boot in Directory Services Restore Mode, press the F8 key repeatedly. Do this immediately after BIOS POST screen, before the Windows logo appears. (Timing can be tricky; if the Windows logo appears you waited too long.) A text menu menu will appear. Use the up/down arrow keys to select Directory Services Restore Mode or DS Restore Mode. Then press the Enter key.

For your convenience on Windows Server 2000 and 2003, UMove will add a menu item to your C:\BOOT.INI file so you can select DSRM without hitting the F8 key.

How to Log on Using Windows Server 2008

After booting DSRM (see above) click on Switch User -> Other User. When prompted for the logon account name type MyComputer\Administrator, where MyComputer is the name of the computer.

The initial logon prompt will show the account name MyDomain\Administrator, where MyDomain is the name of the domain. This is incorrect and will not work. You must click on Switch User and manually type the name MyComputer\Administrator. You must use the name of the computer, not the name of the domain.

See also Changing the Domain Administrator Password.