Create a System Image Backup in Windows Server 2003 (3 Ways)

How to create a system image backup in Windows Server 2003? We provide 3 solutions to create Windows Server 2003 system image backup easily in this article.


By Ivy Updated on October 20, 2022

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About System Image

Generally speaking, system image is an exact copy of drives required for Windows to run, containing operating system, hardware drivers, applications you have installed, settings, preferences, typically the C drive (System), EFI System Partition, or Recovery Partition, etc. Sometimes it also include additional drives.

You could restore your computer with the system image without reinstalling everything if the hard drive or computer stop working. However, you could not restore the individual items from the system image with native backup software.

Create A System Image Backup Windows Server 2003

Create Server 2003 system image backup with Backup Utility

To create a system image in Windows Server 2003, you could try Backup Utility built-in Windows Server 2003, this backup software will help you to backup all the data on this computer and create a system recovery disk to restore Windows in case of system failure.

1. Please go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Backup to open Backup Utility (Backup or Restore Wizard).

Windows Server 2003 Backup

2. In the Backup or Restore Wizard, click Advanced Mode link.

Backup Utility Backup Or Restore Wizard

3. Click Welcome and select Automated System Recovery Wizard

4. Then, it will tell you a backup and ASR disk will be created, click Next to continue.

Backup System Files

To ensure that your data files will be restored intact, it's suggested to backup files separately with this backup wizard.

4. Afterward, click Browse to select a backup media or specify the name for it.

Select Backup Media

5.  Click Next  and Finish to start creating a system image backup in Windows Server 2003. Then, you will be asked to insert a floppy disk for ASR disk creation, please do as follow.


To schedule Windows Server 2003 system image backup, please use Schedule Jobs option.

Create Windows Server 2003 system image with NTBackup

Also, you can use NTBackup to create a system state backup in Windows Server 2003. Below are the command:

ntbackup backup systemstate /j "My Backup Job 3" /F "C:\backup.bkf"

However, the system state backup could not restore your system files and Windows, if you want to create a system image to restore your Windows Server 2003, assume only C drive, no Recovery partition or others system partition, input the command:

ntbackup backup C: /j "My Backup Job" /F "C:\backup.bkf"

Ntbackup Backup C Drive

If you create system image to USB flash drive in Windows 7/8/10/11, you may encounter the error, this drive is not a valid backup location.

NTBackup has many parameters you have to specify for backups and it’s not easy to operate.

Besides, you could create a shadow copy for your system partition: right-click the C drive in Windows file explorer and choose Properties, click Shadow Copies tab, then Enable the shadow copy for C drive.

Shadow Copies Enable

However, you could not restore system files because the volume that contains the operating system files cannot be reverted. Therefore, it’s recommended to backup your data drive with shadow copy.

Create Windows Server 2003 System Image Backup with Third-Party Tool

Besides native backup software, you still can create Server 2003 image backup (including all the data on the system partition) with third-party Windows server 2003 backup software – AOMEI Backupper Server. It supports Windows Server 2003 (R2) 2008, 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, 2022 and Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, 11. And you can enjoy the following advantages:

Schedule backup system: You are allowed to create Windows Server 2003 system image backup with daily, weekly, monthly backup frequency.
Save disk space: You can compress backup image to smaller, backup only used sectors of file system or changed files, delete backup files, etc. Among them, setting backup retention policy is the most effective way to ensure your backup disk always has enough space for new backup.
Multiple backup destination: You are able to backup Windows Server 2003 to external hard drive, USB flash drive, network drive, etc.

Now, download AOMEI Backupper Server first, and then follow the steps to create a system image in Windows Server 2003:

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper server. Select Backup -> System Backup on the main window.

System Backup

Step 2. Rename the Task Name if required. Choose a destination location to save the Windows Server 2003 system image backup.

Select Backup Destination

✍ It’s highly recommended to save the Windows Server image backup to external hard drive, like USB flash drive, SSD, NAS, network share, etc.
✍ The system partition associated with system files, boot files, will be selected automatically.

Step 3. Click Start Backup button to create a system image backup for Windows Server 2003.

Start Backup

Besides, there are multiple optional settings for you to configure if you want: 

1. Options: you could compress, split, comment, encrypt the backup image, enable email notifications, etc.

2. Schedule Backup: five options provided: daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers, USB plug-in. Set it up to automatically backup Windows Server 2003 (R2), here are the details:

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: Backup your data based on daily, weekly, monthly to automatically perform to save your time.

  • Event TriggersTrigger the backup task to according to the following events: User logon, User logoff, System startup, System shutdown.

  • USB plug in: Once detecting the USB device of the task is plugged in, It will automatically back up the data on the USB or backup local data to USB device.

Schedule Settings General

3. Besides, set up Backup Scheme (By quantity, By time, By daily/weekly/monthly) to delete old backups regularly. Also, you enable incremental or differential backup method to backup only changed files.


Wait for a few minutes, the cost time depends on the data size on the system partition. Click Finish after the system image backup is finished. Now, you could create a bootable media in case of your computer fail to boot and restore the Windows Server 2003 system with it. 

You still can use it to create system image in Windows Server 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, 2022.
You can use system image created by this software to restore to new computer with dissimilar hardware.
AOMEI Backupper Server is still a disk clone software, thus you can use it to clone Windows operating system to SSD as well as clone hard drive to larger drive.

Summing Up

You can easily create a system image backup in Windows Server 2003 with the help of Backup Utility, NTBackup. Note that Backup Utility does not guarantee your data file will be restored, saying, if you want to restore your files, you need to create a separate backup. And NTBackup requires multiple parameters for backup tasks.

Thus, if you want an easier way to include system and personal data, you could use the best server 2003 backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server to complete it. And it allows you to schedule backup system (daily, weekly, monthly) to prevent any data loss. For IT technicians, try AOMEI Backupper Technician.

If you would like to protect all data for all clients within your company, and create, monitor and manage the backups easily from one central console for all the clients, please try AOMEI Centralized Backupper.

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.