By Ivy / Last update October 11, 2021

What Is Wbadmin in Windows Server 2016?

WBAdmin is a command line tool of Windows Server Backup in Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 10, Windows Server 2008 (R2), Server 2012, Server 2016, Server 2019 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 run 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 selet 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 to create backups and restore data in Windows Server 2016, please learn the following command line carefully, because any small error may result in backup and restore error. 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 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 command:

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.

Note: A system state backup can only be restored to the same server where the backup was taken while a bare metal backup can be restored to any servers with similar or dissimilar hardware.

Tip: If you are familiar with Wbadmin, you can also choose to use Windows Server Backup. It has a graphic user interface that make all the steps clearly.

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, WBadmin utility does have its limitations:

  • Only volumes formatted with NTFS can be protected.

  • You can only create one scheduled backup job.

  • System state backup not a system backup, and WBAdmin does not backup or recover registry user hives (HEKY_CURRENT_USER).

  • Only one backup on network while using WBAdmin.

Better way to create a system image for Windows Server 2016

Since Wbadmin has such limitations, you can turn to WBAdmin alternative - AOMEI Backupper Server. By using it, you don't need to learn any parameter and syntax, because it has a graphic user interface. Windows Server 2022, 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008, 2003, including R2, and Windows PCs are supported. Below are some useful features of it: 

  • It supports 4 backup types, including System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup, and File Backup.
  • It lets you schedule backup in Daily, Weekly, Monthly, or use Event trigger, USB plug in.
  • It enables you backup only changed files with Incremental Backup, or Differential Backup
  • It allows you to delete backups regularly by quality, time or daily/weekly/monthly.

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.

Please download the 30-day free trial to have a try:

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.

Select Backup Destination

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

Schedule Settings General


Tip: Incremental backup requires that all the backups need to be intact, so you can successfully restore system image in Windows Server 2016. But it's a different story in the differential backup, which only requires one full backup or full backup plus any differential backup. 

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. This may have two situations, if your server is still bootable, you go directly go to the Restore tab and select the backup image you want to restore. But if you found the Windows Server 2016 unbootable, you need to create bootable media to boot server 2016. Then, restore Server 2016 like the below:

1. Click Restore > Select Image File to select the Server 2016 system image to restore. If you don't connect the disk containing backup image, please connect it and reload this software.

Select Image File

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 will help you to restore to new computer with dissimilar hardware effortlessly and ensure secure boot.

The Epilogue

You will find the syntax of WBAdmin in Windows Server 2016, and learn how to create system state backup, bare mental backup, etc. If you want a better way, or are troubled by any limitations of this software, you could try WBAdmin alternative - AOMEI Backupper Server to perform Windows Server 2016 backup and restore.

It not only supports multiple backup solutions, but also useful features, including system backup, disk backup, schedule backup, incremental backup, differential backup, automatic backup cleanup, etc. Also, it is capable of creating recovery disk for Windows Server 2016 to boot unbootable computer.

Besides, it still supports sync and clone feature to meet different users' needs, such as, sync files between Windows Servers for continous protection with its Real-Time Sync feature, clone entire disk in Windows Server 2016 to protect full server with its Disk Clone feature , etc.

For IT technicians, who want to protect unlimited PCs and servers within one company, you could use AOMEI Backupper TechPlus. Also, if you would like to create centralized backup for all clients on one mangement console in your company without efforts, please try the centralized backup software.