Backup and Restore with Windows Server 2016 Wbadmin

This article will introduce you to 3 very classis examples of Windows Server 2016 wbadmin, which help you safely protect the system and data on it. For novices, try the easier way!


By Ivy Updated on October 20, 2022

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What Is the Wbadmin command line?

WBAdmin is a command line tool in Windows Vista, 7, 8, 10,  and 11, Windows Server 2008 (R2), Server 2012, Server 2016, Server 2019, Server 2022 to backup and restore Windows opreating systems, drive volumes, files, folders, and installed programs, etc. Automatic backup is supported.

And it's a disk-based backup system. You can use it to create a bare metal backup for similar or dissimilar hardware restore, this is very useful when your computer runs into serious issues. The backup file(s) are created in form of virtual hard disk (.vhd) files with some accompanying .XML configuration files, and you can view content by mounting it in Windows Disk Manager. 

It replaced the previous NT backup that is used to create backups in Windows NT4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003. 

Learn Wbadmin Syntax in Server 2016

Before you use Windows Server 2016 wbadmin to backup or restore items, you need to learn its syntax and some necessary commands.

Input cmd in Windows Server 2016 search box, choose command prompt and select Run as administrator. Then, type Wbadmin/?, wait for a moment, and you will see all the WBAdmin commands.

Supported Commands

Wbadmin enable backup

Create or modifies a daily backup schedule.

Wbadmin disable backup

Disables the scheduled backups.

Wbadmin start backup

Runs a one-time backup.

Wbadmin stop job

Stops the currently running backup or recovery operation.

Wbadmin get versions

Lists details of backups that can be recovered from a specified location.

Wbadmin get items

Lists the items included in a backup.

Wbadmin start recovery

Runs a recovery.

Wbadmin get status

Shows the status of the currently running operation.

Wbadmin get disks

Lists disks that are currently online.

Wbadmin get virtualmachines

Lists current Hyper-V virtual machines

Wbadmin start systemstaterecovery

Runs a system state recovery.

Wbadmin start systemstatebackup

Runs a system state backup.

Wbadmin delete systemstatebackup

Deletes one or more system state backups.

Wbadmin delete backup

Deletes one or more backups.


How to Use Wbadmin in Windows Server 2016

Here is how to use the wbadmin.exe in Windows Server 2016 to create backups and restore data, please learn the following command line carefully, because any small error may result in backup and restore errors. And the system backup process is based on the Volume Shadow Copy Service, to be specific, it will create a shadow copy of a specific volume and create a system image based on this snapshot. 

Prepare for the use of Wbadmin

Some users may receive the Windows Server 2016 WBAdmin.msc is missing error during the use of backup, that's because you may not install Windows Server Backup, or Network Load Balancing (NLB). If you still don't install them, please follow the steps below.

▆ To install Windows Server Backup: 

1. Open Server Manager, and select Manage > Add Roles and Features.

2. Choose the default settings until go to the Select Features window, scroll down and select Windows Server Backup, and click Next.

Install Windows Server Backup

3. Press Install.

▆ To install Network Load Balancing:

If you installed Windows Server Backup and run as administrator and the WBAdmin.msc still missing, please uninstall Windows Server Backup, restart the server, and install the Network Load Balancing (NLB) along with the Windows Server Backup.

Install Network Load Balancing

Create Backups with WBAdmin

▆ To create a system state backup, use the command: Wbadmin start systemstatebackup –backuptarget:[backup location] [-quiet]

  • The backup location should be a drive letter, volume GUID, or network address.

  • The switch "–quiet" means to execute the backup without prompt.

For example: WBAdmin start systemstatebackup –backuptarget: E: -quiet

Wbadmin Start Systemstatebackup

▆  To create a bare metal backup in Windows Server 2016, please use the WBAdmin bare mental backup command line: Wbadmin start backup –backuptarget:[backup location] –allcritical [–systemstate] -vssfull

For example, to create a bare metal backup to E: drive, use the wbadmin start backup in Windows Server 2016: 

wbadmin start backup -backupTarget:E: -allcritical –systemstate -vssfull

Wbadmin Bare Mental Backup

  • -vssfull: Performs a full backup using the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)

  • -allCritical: Specifies that all critical volumes (volumes that contain operating system's state) be included in the backups. This parameter is useful if you're creating a backup for bare metal recovery.

  • -systemState: Creates a backup that includes the system state.

▆  To create a schedule daily backup in Windows Server 2016, use the wbadmin enable backup.

For example: wbadmin enable backup -addtarget:E: -schedule:01:30 -allcritical -systemstate -vssfull

Wbadmin Schedule Daily Backup

Besides, you might want to create a WBAdmin incremental backup.


  • A system state backup can only be restored to the same server where the backup was taken. If you want to perform bare metal recovery with any server, whether similar or dissimilar hardware, you need to create a bare metal backup. 
  • It's not suggested to use Windows Server 2016 wbadmin if you are not familiar with it, since any small error may cause data loss. 

Perform Wbadmin system state recovery 

When your server 2016 does not work properly due to improper changes in System Settings, you can perform a system state recovery to restore system settings. For a system state recovery, use the command: Wbadmin start systemstaterecovery -version: versionIdentifier --backupTarget:[backup location] –quiet

For example, to perform a system state recovery from network shared folder \\\Public\backup, use the command:

Wbadmin start systemstaterecovery -version:11/11/2015-01:09 -backupTarget: \\\Public\backup -quiet

System State Recovery

Note: If you don't know which (identifiers) backups can be recovered, you could run the Wbadmin get versions command to list all of them.

Windows Server 2016 WBAdmin Backup Limitations

However, the WBadmin utility does have its limitations:

  • Only volumes formatted with NTFS can be protected.

  • Only one backup on a network while using WBAdmin.

  • You can only create one scheduled backup job.

  • System state backup does not include the operating system and other boot files required to start a computer. Meanwhile, the wbadmin does not backup or recover registry user hives (HEKY_CURRENT_USER).

  • The wbadmin does not delete old backups automatically. 

Easier way to create a system image for Windows Server 2016

Since Wbadmin has such limitations, you can turn to the WBAdmin alternative - AOMEI Backupper Server. By using it, you don't need to learn any parameters and syntax, because it has a graphic user interface. And the backup task is automatic and easy to manage with help of the following features: 

It not only supports creating a system backup but also disk backup, partition backupfile backup and cloud backup. So you can choose to backup any items you want in simple steps.
It lets you schedule backup Windows Server 2016, and you have 5 options, including Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, and USB plug in.
It enables you to manage backup disk effectively with different features. You can compress or split backup image to smaller, backup only changed files with incremental or differential backup, delete old backup regularly by quantity, time or daily/weekly/monthly, etc. 

In addition, you still can use it to restore system image or disk image to get your server computer back quickly, even dissimilar hardware. Also, you can restore partition(s) or files per your needs.

If your computer is not bootable, you can choose to create Windows Server 2016 recovery disk on a working computer to boot the computer having a boot issue. On premium versions, you still can directly boot multiple computers and deploy system images with its image deployment software. 

Please download the 30-day free trial to have a try! Windows Server 2022, 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008, 2003, including R2, and Windows PCs are supported.

Download Free Trial server 2022/2019/2016/2012/2008
Secure Download

Create a System Image for Windows Server 2016

1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Server, choose Backup > System Backup in turn. Then, it will select all the items required to start a server computer. 

System Backup

2. Select a destination to save the Windows Server 2016 system image backup file. You can backup Windows Server 2016 to external hard drive, USB flash drive, network drive or NAS, cloud drives like Google Drive, etc.

Select Backup Destination

3. (Optional) Tick Schedule Backup if you want to schedule backup Windows Server 2016, then choose Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in.  By default, the backup method is Incremetal Backup, and you can definitely choose Differential Backup instead. 

Schedule Settings General


  • Incremental backup and differential backup are different backup methods in this software, which backup only changed files to save backup time and disk space. The biggest difference is all the incremental backups in a scheduled task are linked while the differential backups are independent. 
  • To avoid backup disk full due to accumulated backups and limited space, you can enable automatic backup cleanup under the Backup Scheme and delete old backup automatically. 

4. Click Start Backup > Add the schedule only or Add the schedule and run backup now to create a system image for Windows Server 2016.

Start Backup

Restore Windows Server 2016 system image

Let's go fast forward to restore Windows Server 2016 system image and the restore process may vary in your situation:

If your server is still bootable, you go directly go to the Restore tab and select the backup image you want to restore.

 If you found the Windows Server 2016 unbootable, you need to create bootable media to boot server 2016.

 If you want to restore system image to multiple computers, you need to use the AOMEI Image Deploy tool on the advanced edition. For details, learn in this article: deploy system image to multiple computers over network.

Then, follow the steps below to restore Server 2016 if you are in previous situations. 

1. Insert the bootable media into your computer and boot from it. After loading, click Restore > Select Image File to select the Server 2016 system image to restore. 

Select Image File

Note: If you don't connect the disk containing a backup image, please connect it and reload this software.

2. Tick Restore this system backup, and press Next >>.

Restore Entire Backup

Tip: If your hard drive has bad sectors or smart failure, you can choose to restore system image to new hard drive by ticking "Restore system to other location" and then selecting a partition on the new hard disk. 

3. Preview the operation summary and press Start Restore >> to restore Windows Server 2016 easily.

Preview Restore

Tip: The Universal Restore feature will be checked by default if you restore to a new computer with dissimilar hardware and it helps to ensure a secure boot after restoration.

The Epilogue

You will learn Windows Server 2016 wbadmin syntask and how to create system state backup, bare mental backup, etc. If you are not familiar with the command line or want an easier way, try the best server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server. 

It not only helps you backup Windows Server 2016 automatically but also manages the backup disk effectively with different features, such as incremental backup, differential backup, automatic backup cleanup, etc. To create backups for multiple computers without effort, try the centralized backup software.

Also, it is capable of restoring system images in different situations, whether your computer has similar or dissimilar hardware, bootable or not, even to multiple computers. To unlock more advanced features, please check the edition comparison page. 

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.