Backup Files and Folders with Wbadmin or Easier Way

Learn how to use Wbadmin command line to backup files and folders in a different system and restore files if needed. The easier way is included.


by Ivy Updated on April 23, 2024

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WBAdmin Overview

WBAdmin (wbadmin.exe) is a command line utility built into Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10, 11 and server 2008 R2, 2012(R2), 2016(R2), 2019, 2022 for administrator or backup operators to backup your operating system, volumes, files, folders, and applications

By default, it will create a scheduled daily backup if you only input wbadmin enable backup without specifying parameters. If it's specified, it will create a volume shadow copy service (VSS) copy backup and won't update the history of backed up files. And the backup files are mainly in the form of Microsoft's virtual hard disk (VHD) files, with some accompanying XML configuration files. You can mount the VHD file in the Windows Disk Manager to view all the contents in it.

Besides backup, it allows you to perform bare metal restoreindividual file and folder restore, and system state restore. And the restore process requires Windows installation disc or recovery drive to boot into the recovery environment.

How to Create Wbadmin File Backup in Different Windows Systems

In different Windows versions, you will get various wbadmin command parameters and there is a slight difference in wbadmin file backup. The -include parameter in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 only specify volume drive letters, mount points, and GUID-based volume names, not including files or folders. But you can use Wbadmin backup and restore to backup files or folders in newer systems.

Before start, you need to learn the wbadmin syntax in the following: 

wbadmin start backup [-backupTarget:{ | }] [-include:] [-nonRecurseInclude:] [-exclude:] [-nonRecurseExclude:] [-allCritical] [-systemState] [-noVerify] [-user:] [-password:] [-noInheritAcl] [-vssFull | -vssCopy] [-quiet]

These parameters could vary in different version of Windows. You have to check it first. Type cmd in the search box and select Run as administrator to excute it. Then, type wbadmin /? in command prompt, you will see all the supported parameters and its meaning. 

Supported Commands

Wbadmin start backup example in Windows 7/8/10/11:

Run cmd as administrator and input the following command. It is an example to backup files named Lenovo-reset.docx located in C:\Users\Public\Documents and the backuptest folder in E drive to D drive.

Wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:D: -include:C:\Users\Public\Documents\Lenovo-reset.docx, E:\backuptest

As a matter of fact, Windows 10 Enterprise x64 does not support backup files and folders with wbadmin as we tested, you could only backup volume, otherwise you will get the error: A partial backup of volumes is not supported on this version of Windows.

Windows 10 Not Support Backup Files Wbadmin

Wbadmin start backup example in server 2008 R2 or newer system: 

For server computers, you need to be sure the Windows Server Backup feature is installed, since the wbadmin is included in this software.  

  • Open Server Manager in Windows Server 2008 R2(or Windows Server 2012 (R2)).
  • Then scroll down to the Features Summary, click Add Features.
  • Select the Windows Server Backup Features, including Windows Server Backup and command-line tools (wbadmin), and click Next.

Windows Server Backup Installation

  • Confirm installation selections and press Install button.

Then, run wbadmin to backup files and folders. For example, we are going to backup files named ab-test.docx located in G: drive and the SVN folder in F: drive to the E:\ Drive, and create a system state backup.

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:E: -include:F:\SVN,G:\ab-test.docx -systemstate

Backup File Folders To E Drive

If you want to backup C:\Users\My documents to F: drive excluding all the .doc files, try the following command.

wbadmin start backup -backupTarget:F: –allcritical –include:C:\Users\My documents –exclude: C:\Users\My documents\*.doc

File Backup

If you do not want to be prompted to enter Y to continue, you can add the –quiet switch, and then it will run the backup without prompt.

Note that you can only specify a volume formatted with NTFS as target location when using command line backup files, and the next backup will overwrite the previous one if you do not change the target location.

How to Restore Files and Folders with Wbadmin

The wbadmin file backup is especially useful for users to protect their data and you can easily restore files or folders in a disaster. The following are syntax for wbadmin file restore:

wbadmin start recovery -version: -items:{ | | } -itemtype:{Volume | App | File} [-backupTarget:{ | }] [-machine:] [-recoveryTarget:{ | }] [-recursive] [-overwrite:{Overwrite | CreateCopy | Skip}] [-notRestoreAcl] [-skipBadClusterCheck] [-noRollForward] [-quiet]

Wbadmin start recovery example: 

For example, restore the above files and folders (ab-test.docx, and SVN folder), input the following command:

wbadmin start recovery -version:03/20/2020-03:36 -itemType:volume -items:F: (Restore the SVN folder)

Wbadmin Start Recovery

wbadmin start recovery -version:03/20/2020-03:36 -itemType:file -items:G:\ab-test.docx (Restore the ab-test.docx file)

Wbadmin Start Recovery File

✍ If you have no idea about the version identifier, you could run wbadmin get versions command to get the version identifier.
✍ Besides, you could use wbadmin enable backup to create a daily schedule backup. Wbadmin delete systemstatebackup to delete old system state backups to manage your hard disk, etc.

Wbadmin Is Quite Complex for Ordinary People 

Wbadmin helps to perform the unattended operations and more suitable for IT technician or professionals. For ordinary people, it's not so friendly. In view of this, you could consider using GUI version of backup software - Backup and Restore, Windows Server Backup or third-party software. 

But which one should you can choose? Below are some options you can refer:

If you use Windows 7/8/10/11/XP/Vista, try Backup and Restore. By default, it uses incremental backup to backup only changed files in a scheduled task. And the backup time is every Sunday at 7:00 am. 
If you use server computers, try Windows Server Backup. Note you can only backup entire volume with all data on it. 
If you want an all-in-one backup software, try AOMEI Backupper Server. It supports backing up files automatically in Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11 and Windows Server 2003(R2)/2008/2012(R2)/2016/2019/2022. And it provides you with different methods to minimize backup image size and delete old backup automatically.   

According to the above info, it's not difficult to see that AOMEI Backupper Server is the best backup software for all Windows PCs and servers. And I'll introduce you how to use it in the next part. Please download it to have a try! For unlimited PCs or servers, try its technician or techplus edition.

Download Free TrialWin PCs & servers
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Easier Way to Backup Files or Folders in Windows PCs or Servers

Here you will use "File Backup" in AOMEI Backupper Server to backup files or folders, considering data security issues, it's suggested to backup files to external hard drive automatically. To always keep the last backups, you can do the following things during the process.

  • Use incremental or differential backup to backup only changed files.
  • Enable other disk space saver features, for example, normal or high compressional, automatic or customize splitting, etc.
  • The complete way is to delete backup files with automatic backup cleanup feature.

After getting basic info, the next step is to backup files or folders with this software. Please follow steps below carefully.

1. Execute the AOMEI Backupper Server, select Backup -> File Backup.

File Backup

2. Click +Add File or + Add Folder button to add files and folders to backup.

Add File Or Folder

3. Select a destination location to save the Windows file and folder backup image. If it's an external hard drive or network drive, please make sure it's connected or recognized. 

Select Backup Destination

4. Set advanced features in the following options to make this task automatically or flexibly. Then, click Start Backup to perform this file backup. 

>> Click Options to modify the file backup image, like split, compress, comment the backup image, etc.

Advanced Operation Priority

>> Click Schedule Backup to set daily, weekly, or monthly backup frequency, or backup files based on specific events (Event trigger) or to USB flash drive automatically (USB plug in).


>> Click Backup Scheme to enable backup method (incremental or differential backup) or automatic backup cleanup. All of them help you alleviate or completely resolve backup disk full sooner or later due  to accumulated backups.

By Quantity

Besides, you could store the backup image to multiple destinations, like local disk, external hard drive, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, NAS, even cloud drives, like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. If you have an AOMEI account, you can also backup files to AOMEI Cloud.


It's necessary to create wbadmin file backup for data security, but it's really complex for ordinary people to use. If you are one of them, try GUI version of backup software, AOMEI Backupper Server, it not only supports backing up files automatically, but also helps you avoid backup disk full issue. And it's applicable to all Windows PCs and servers.

Besides file backup, you can use it to backup system, disk or partition. And all the features in file backup are available for other backup types. You can create a bootable USB or CD/DVD to boot computer in case it becomes unbootable. All in all, it can help you protect your computer completely.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.