By Ivy / Last update July 6, 2021

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What Is A System Image Backup?

System image backup is an exact copy of a drive required to boot Windows. By default, it’s a compressed image file that include operating system, system reserved partition or EFI partition, recovery partition, boot sectors, custom settings, all the installed programs and saved data etc. 

Well then, what does it do for you? It can prevent many boot failure error, such as, system crash, hard drive failure, virus or hacker attack, hardware, software failure, wrong operations or blue screen etc.  When these bad situations happen, you can use the created system image to restore entire computer without reinstalling everything. The data stored on the system partition will also be restored. Please note you cannot choose individual items to restore if you use built-in tool Windows Server Backup.

Windows Server 2012

Method 1: Create Windows Server Backup System Image with Built-in Tool

Windows Server Backup is a built-in backup tool for Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019 etc, but it's not installed by default and you need to do this manually. Open Server Manager, go to Manage > Add Roles and functionalities > Features > Windows Server Backup and install it with the on-screen instructions.

Then, start to create a system image backup in Windows Server 2012 with Windows Server Backup. Please note that you must be a member of the Backup Operators or Administrators group, or you must have been delegated the appropriate authority. And this software only backs up volume formatted with NTFS file system. 

Step 1. Navigate to “Start”>”Administrator Tools”>”Window Server Backup” and then select “Backup Once” under the Actitions tab.

Windows Server Backup

Step 2. Then, you will see the Backup Once Wizard. Click "Next" to continue. The default backup options is "Different options".

Backup Options

Step 3. Tick "Custom" backup configuration to choose specific volumes, files, data for backup etc and click "Next". Also, you can backup all server data, application and system state with "Full Server".

Select Backup Configuration

Step 4. Click "Add Items" and select the item you want to backup, here is system state. Then, click "OK" and "Next" to move on.

Select Items for Backup

Step 5. Tick "Local drives" to select a backup storage and click "Next". If you want to backup Windows Server 2012 to USB drive or other external storage, please connect it to your server in advance. Also, you can use remote shared folder to store files. Finally, click "Backup" to start Windows Server 2012 image backup.

Specify Destination Type

The backup will take a long while to complete and it depends on the data you have. Then, you can start to create another backup, you need to use a different location as destination. That's because this software will overwrite the old backup with the new one on the same location. And this also applies to backup schedule. In addition, you are only allowed to perform system state recovery via Wbadmin, which is not easy for many users to operate. 

Therefore, if you are in that case or want an easier way to create a system image in Windows Server 2012, you may need an alternative software for Windows Server Backup. You could consider using powerful server backup software AOMEI Backupper Server

For IT technician or small and medium-size companies, it's suggested to use AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus. This version can be installed on unlimited PCs and Servers within your computer. And it offers unlimited billable technical services to clients and also enables you to copy installation directory for portable version creation. Then, keep reading below to learn detailed steps.

Method 2: Create A System Image Backup in Windows Server 2012 with AOMEI Backupper Server

AOMEI Backupper Server helps to create a full/incremental/differential Windows Server 2012 image backup easily in simple steps without overwritting previous backups, and this software also supports other system, including Server 2003/2008(R2)/2012 R2/2016/2019 and Windows 10/8//7/XP/Vista. In addition, it allows you to backup system partition with NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, EXT2, EXT3 file system. 

Without further ado, let's get started. Please make preparations for Windows Server 2012 system image backup first and then follow detailed steps below. 

  • Plug in your external storage if you want to save image to, and be sure it can be detected.

  • Download the free trial AOMEI Backupper Server and install it on your computer. 

Download Free Trial Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019
Secure Download

Step 1.  Launch this software, then select “System Backup” under the Backup bar. 

System Backup

Step 2.  Click where the arrow point to select a destination path and partitions related to boot Windows are selected automatically. 

Select Path

Step 3. Click "Options" and "Schedule" to set backup settings. Click "Scheme" to manage disk space. Then, click “Start Backup” to backup server 2012.

Start Backup

About Options: 

  • Email Notification: This feature is to inform you if the backup task is completed successfully or the error message occurs during the process.

  • Compression: If your system partition is very larger, you can use “Normal” or “High” compression level to compress Windows Server. By comparison, the compressed image will occupy less backup space.

  • Encryption for backup: If there is some sensitive data or other things that you don't want to be known, you can encrypt it.


About Schedule:

  • Daily/weekly/monthly backup: These backup settings can help you backup system regularly and track changes of the backed up files. Select daily backup, weekly backup or monthly backup according to the change frequency.

  • Event triggers: To backup system without interfering any of your operations, "System Shutdown" in Event triggers is recommended.

  • USB plug in: To automatically backup files to or from USB when it's plugged in, please set a scheduled backup task with "USB plug in" feature. 

  • Wake the computer to run scheduled tasks: This feature help you create a system image in Windows Server 2012 during off-peak hours. It can be midnight or any other times.

  • Incremental or differential backup: Both features save your backup time and disk space, because they only backup the changes instead everything.

General Settings

About Scheme:

This feature is to avoid backup disk full when there is an increasing number of backups. With it, you can delete backup files with specific backup scheme. It supports 5 different backup scheme, including Full Backup Scheme, Differential Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Space Management Scheme, Other Backup Scheme.

Please note that the backup will be perform in the way you set in scheme if you enable both schedule and scheme. For example, if you enable differential backup and incremental backup scheme, the backup task will run as an incremental backup.

Backup Scheme

Now, you may successfully create Windows Server 2012 system image backup. Meanwhile, it's suggested to create Windows Server 2012 recovery disk so you can restore your computer when it fails to boot. Then, you can restore system image to get your computer back in a very short time when something bad happens, even with different hardware. 

★ More advanced way to create system image backup in Windows Server

If you want one key system backup & recovery solution for Windows Server 2019/2016/2012, etc., you can resort to powerful onekey recovery software - AOMEI OneKey Recovery. It enables you to create a factory recovery partition to save the image file. When your server cannot boot, you can launch the system restore process by pressing "F11" or "A" during startup. Thus, there's no need to create bootable media to boot a corrupted server.

OneKey System Backup

Wrapping Things up

Windows Server Backup and AOMEI Backupper Server can help you create a system image backup in Windows Server 2012. But the built-in tool is problematic and difficult to operate. By comtrast, AOMEI Backupper Server is very easy to use, even a novice can operate like a professional, because of its intutive interface and simple steps. 

More so, this software comes along with many useful features to make the backup task simple and efficient, including backup scheme, differential backup, incremental backup, create bootable media, PXE boot tool, event triggers etc. Don't hesitate, download AOMEI Backupper Server or TechPlus to have a try.