By Ivy / Last update December 7, 2022

Why perform Windows Server 2012 R2 restore from backup?

Usually, there are two possible methods to make Windows Server 2012 R2 work as normal, namely reinstall Windows Server 2012 R2 and restore Windows Server 2012 R2 from backup, but there are some controversies between them. 

  • Reinstall Windows: It's said to be the safest method if your computer is infected by viruses or you want to factory reset Windows Server 2012 R2. The problem is that your programs, specific drivers, and personal data are not retained after reinstallation.
  • Restore OS from backup: This method saves the operating system, installed programs, specific drivers, personal data, etc in a backup, so you can restore everything from backup, not only OS, but also files, and more. 

Thus, considering data security, you can clearly see the second method is a better choice. But if your system is infected or you want to reset it to default settings, try Reinstall Windows. 

Popular software for Windows Server 2012 R2 system backup and restore

To let Windows Server 2012 R2 restore from a backup successfully, you need to create a backup image in advance. So the server backup software is necessary, and usually, it integrates with the restore features. Here we will introduce you to one free backup software and one reliable and powerful software. Read the corresponding content carefully and select the software you will use.

Free server backup software - Windows Server Backup 

Windows Server comes with free backup software - Windows Server Backup, which enables you to create a full backup, bare metal backup, system state backup, and more. So many users choose to create system image backup in Windows Server 2012 R2 with it, and then you can perform Windows Server 2012 R2 system restore to get your server computer and data back.

It requires an installation disc or Windows Server 2012 R2 recovery drive to boot your computer and perform a system restore from the recovery environment.

Note the system image created by Windows Server Backup can only be used on the computer you create it. For example, if create a system state backup for Windows Server 2012, you cannot use it on Windows Server 2012 R2. In this case, you have to reinstall Windows and programs you will use.

Reliable and powerful server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server

Also, you can use a reliable and powerful Windows Server 2012 R2 backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server to perform Windows Server 2012 R2 system restores from backup in simple steps and be sure you can boot from it successfully. With it, you can:

  • choose to restore system within Windows or from the recovery environment.
  • create a boot repair disk to boot any computer, regardless of the operating system or boot mode (Legacy BIOS or UEFI)
  • migrate Windows Server 2012 R2 to new hardware if needed. For example, your computer fails but does not have a system image for it.
  • restore files from system backup if you don't backup files in Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • ...

How to perform system restore in Windows Server 2012 R2 

Here you will learn 2 practical methods for Windows Server 2012 R2 system restore, select one of them according to which software you use and follow the stepwise guide in the corresponding part.

Use Window Server Backup to do Windows Server 2012 R2 system restore 

Step 1. Insert the installation disc or Windows Server 2012 recovery disk, and boot from it. Then, select Repair your computer after loading files.

Repair Your Computer

Step 2. Select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > System Image Recovery

System Image Recovery

Step 3. Select the operating system - Windows Server 2012 R2. 

Step 4. By default, using the latest available system image is recommended, but if it is damaged or you want to use other system image, tick Select a sysem image and click Next to choose one.

Select System Image

Step 5. And then, you can follow the on-screen instructions to  install drivers, repartition and format disk, click Next and Yes. Wait until the Windows Server 2012 restore from the backup process completes and boot from it. All the system settings, drivers, installed programs and data on the old server computer are still here. 

Actually, system restore fails in some situations:

  • Windows Server Backup does not allow users to restore system images to a computer with different firmware. 
  • Windows Server Backup does not support restoring system images to a hard drive with different partition styles, one is MBR while the other is GPT, for example. 

If you happen to meet these situations, please try the best Windows Server 2012 R2 backup software in the next part. 

Use AOMEI Backupper to perform Windows Server 2012 R2 restore from backup 

Using AOMEI Backupper Server to restore Windows Server 2012 R2 requires a backup image created by itself. If you don't create a system image backup before, you still can create one on another working computer and restore backup on the computer in trouble. We call it dissimilar hardware restore, and in this process, you need to use the Universal Restore feature to ensure your computer is bootable after restoration.

And there is another situation you may encounter - Windows Server 2012 R2 is not bootable now. Similarly, you are able to create Windows Server 2012 recovery disk on another computer with the help of Create Bootable Media feature. 

Besides, there is something you need to pay attention to:

  • Be sure you backup files on the target disk. The restore process will overwrite partitions and files on it. 
  • Check the capacity of both disks and whether the target disk has enough space to retreive data on the backup disk. If not, you may receive the system restore failed due to not enough space error. 
  • If the source and target disk have different partition styles, you need to change the boot mode to the corresponding option after restoring from backup. And usually, MBR disk for Legacy BIOS and GPT disk for UEFI mode. 

Then, assuming you already create a system image for this computer, we will start the Windows Server 2012 R2 recovery process. If not, please download this software and check my previous article to image backup Windows Server

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Step 1. Open this reliable and powerful server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server. Click Restore from the left side and then Select Task.

Select Task

Step 2. Select the system image backup from the following list. Then click Next.

Select Backup Image

Step 3. Select Restore the system backup and click Next.

Restore Entire System Image

Step 4. If your old disk is damaged, please tick Restore system to other location as well and select new hard drive or partition on it in the following window. 

Select Location

Step 5. At this Operation Summary interface, have a confirmation and click Start Restore to perform Windows Server 2012 R2 recovery. 

Windows Server 2012 Restore from Backup


  • You can select Shut down PC or Restart PC during the System Restore Progress.

  • By default, if you are migrating to a new server, this software will check the Universal Restore feature. It will install all the necessary drivers required to boot a computer.

  • To deploy images to multiple servers, the easiest way is to use the premium feature - AOMEI Image Deploy tool. It is available on AOMEI Backupper Technician or AOMEI Backupper TechPlus edition. 

If your computer cannot boot, you need to boot your computer from a previously created recovery disk first. All the steps are the same, but with a different environment. 

How to make the new disk bootable

Step 1. Restart your computer to BIOS and set the new disk as the first boot device.

Step 2. Go to the BIOS Mode under the Boot tab and check if it matches with disk type. If not, switch to Legacy BIOS or UEFI.


Step 3. Save changes and exit to boot from the new disk. 


You can choose the way to perform Windows Server 2012 R2 restore from backup, either using Windows Server Backup or AOMEI Backupper Server. Both of them work on the same computer, but if you want to migrate to a new server, you may prefer the second software. And it ensures a secure boot when you restore MBR system image to GPT or vice versa.

Besides, you still can use the same method to restore Windows Server 2016, 2019, or  2022 from backup, even new hardware, effortlessly. For migrating systems on the same machine, there is one easier way - clone Windows Server 2012 R2 hard drive, and it still works on 2016(R2), 2019, 2022, or other previous systems. To unlock more features, check the edition comparison page.