By Ivy / Last update January 29, 2021

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, etc. 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.

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. Tap Next in next window.

Backup Utility Backup Or Restore Wizard

3. Choose Back up files and settings option, press Next.

Windows Server 2003 Backup Files And Settings

4. Select All information on this computer to backup, and then click Next.

Backup All Info On This Computer

5. Find a destination path to save the system image by clicking Broswe, and rename the backup, then choose Next.

Select Destination

6. Overview the Windows Server 2003 backup, select Finish to start create system image for Windows Server 2003. And you will get the backup file (.bkf)

Overview Backup Task

Besides, you could go to Advanced Options -> choose Automated System Recovery Wizard in Welcome tab to create a system image for Windows Server 2003.

Create Windows Server 2003 system image with NTBackup

NTBackup allows you to create a system state backup, here is 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, 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.

Best Windows Server 2003 Backup Software

How to create Server 2003 image backup in an easier way? the best Windows server 2003 backup software – AOMEI Backupper Server will help you. It’s available for Windows Server 2003 (R2) 2008, 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, and Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10. Now, download AOMEI Backupper Server first, and then follow the steps to create a system image in Windows Server 2003:

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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 recommend 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: six options provided: daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers, USB plug-in. Set it up to automatically backup Windows Server 2003 (R2), here is the details:

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

  • Event Triggers: Trigger 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 Scheme to delete old backups to manage your hard drive space. 5 schemes provided: Full Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Differential Backup Scheme, Space Management Scheme, Other Backup Scheme. Know more details about retention policy, please refer to backup scheme.


Wait for a few minutes, the cost time depends on the data size on the system partition. Click Finish after the system image backup finished. Now, you could create a bootable media. Then restore the Windows Server 2003 system with the system image and the bootable media in the event of system failure.

Besides, AOMEI Backupper Server has the professional features, clone Windows operating system to SSD for upgrading, restore system image to original computer or dissimilar hardware computer, backup your personal files with file backup, partition backup, even backup the Windows Server 2003 entire hard drive, etc.

Summing Up

Compared with Backup Utility and NTBackup, AOMEI Backupper is easier to operate to create a system image backup in Windows Server 2003 (R2), 2008, 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, and Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10. And AOMEI Backupper provides you flexible ways to backup data. 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.