By Ivy / Last update October 20, 2022

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Why Backup Windows Server?

The Microsoft Windows Server operating systems, including Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 (R2)/2022, is designed for enterprise-level management, data storage, applications, and communications for multiple clients.

Windows Server stores a large amount of business data over the network, to avoid serious virus attack, system crash, failure of booting operating system, hardware damage, etc., It’s urgent to create image backup for Windows Server on a regular basis to protect your critical data.

And in the following, I'll introduce you 3 server backup solutions and backup Windows Server step by step. 

Useful Ways to create a server image backup 

This article provides you with 3 useful ways to image Windows Server, not only server 2008, but also other systems, such as, server 2008 R2, 2012, 2016, 2019, 2022, etc. Check the following info and select one you prefer:

>> Windows Server Backup: You must be no stranger to this software. It's a free server backup software in Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 (R2) and able to backup and restore the full server (all volumes), selected volumes, the system state, or specific files or folders. And you could create server image backup for bare metal recovery in case of hard disk  failure. 

>> Wbadmin: It's the command-line version of Windows Server Backup and help you create server image backup at a technician level. It requires you to learn all the commands you need to use.

>> Third-party server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server: It is capable of creating image backup in all the server and PC computers. And you can free up your hands and make this task run automatically, even backup only changed files. The deletion policy does not require any human interval as well. It's easy to use and more flexible. You can directly go to it and have a try if you want the easiest way

AOMEI Backupper Server

After selecting one of them, swap to the corresponding way and follow the stepwise guide to complete the backup process.

Way 1: Create Server Backup Image with Windows Server Backup 

The Windows Server Backup is not installed by default, so you need to install it on your selected computer with the steps: Go to Server Manager -> Dashboard -> Manage -> Add Roles and Features, and then follow the wizards to install.

Add Roles And Features

After installing, you can open Windows Server Backup and create Windows Server 2016 backup with it:

1. Please go Server Manager -> Tools -> Windows Server Backup, right-click Backup Once under the Local Backup tab. To schedule backup Windows Server, click Backup Schedule, you can choose daily or more frequently.

Backup Schedule Or Backup Once

2. Choose the backup options: Different options, and hit Next.

Different Options

3. Select the Custom type to choose the data you want to create image backup for Windows Server.


4. And then click Add Items, choose System state to create system image backup for Windows Server 2016. Besides, you could select Bare metal recovery, and other partitions you would like to image.

System State

5. Now choose a backup destination: select Local drives, and press Next. Now, choose a backup destination for your Windows Server image backup, and click Next.

Local Drives

Backup Destination

6. Preview the settings and click Backup to backup Windows Server.

Backup System State

Way 2: Backup Windows Server with WBAdmin

You can create an image backup in Windows Server with Wbadmin as well. Before that, you need to learn all the commands you will use by typing wbadmin /? and you will see all of them with corresponding meanings. Below are the most common used commands: 

  • WBADMIN ENABLE BACKUP: Creates 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 items contained in a backup.

  • WBADMIN START RECOVERY: Runs a recovery.

  • WBADMIN GET STATUS: Reports the status of the currently running operation.

  • WBADMIN GET DISKS: Lists the 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.

After learning all the commands, you can create a server image backup with it. To create bare metal backup in Windows Server 2012/2016/2019/2022 etc, you can type the following command:  

Wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:e: -allcritical -vssfull -quiet

Windows Server 2019 Bare Metal Backup

  • -allcritical: Creates a backup that includes all critical volumes.

  • -vssfull: run a full backup using Volume Shadow Copy service (VSS).

  • -quiet: run the command with no prompts to the user.

The bare metal backup contains the system state backup by default and includes other critical partitions like C partition, Recovery partition and EFI System partition, etc.

After bare metal backup finished, you could perform bare metal recovery anytime to protect your Windows Server from data loss.

Windows Server Backup Limitations

Both versions of built-in backup software can help you create image backup in Windows Server, but they still has some limitation you cannot ignore. I'll list them in the following:

  • Backup of volumes greater than 2 TB was not supported and 512-byte sectors were required in Windows Server 2003 (R2) and 2008 (R2).

  • The schedule backup is limited to daily or more frequent. 

  • Deletion policy (manage backup versions and backup retention) was not available in Windows Server 2003 (R2) and 2008 (R2). This is available since Windows Server 2012.

  • Removable media is not supported, such as tape, CD, USB flash drive, etc.

  • You could not recover individual files, folders, or application data from backup DVDs.

  • The previous backup will be overwritten if you There will only one the latest backup if you would like to schedule backup Windows Server to shared network folder.

  • The Wbadmin command line tool is quite more complex to operate for most users.

Since both version of Windows Server Backup has many restrictions and the operation is complicated, it's suggested to try other excellent Windows server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server to backup Windows Server.

Way 3: Create Image Backup for Windows Server step by step 

AOMEI Backupper Server is one of the best server backup software, which works well in backing up entire disk, system, partition, or individual files. You can choose them depending on items you want to backup and the disk space of destination disk. And you can enjoy the following advantages during this process:

Create image backup in Windows Server and PC automatically: It not only supports Winodws  2003/2008/2012/2016/2019/2022 including (R2), but also Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista. And you backup server with Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event trigger, USB plug in.
Backup only changed files: It supports Incremental backup and Differential backup, which backup only changes instead of complete copy. Both of them use less backup time and disk space, but the previous one has high requirements in recovery.
Delete old backup images automatically: It supports 3 cleanup methods, including By quantity, By time, By daily/weekly/monthly, so you can choose one of them for deletion and free up more space.

Please download the Windows server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server. For unlimited servers and PCs, try its TechPlus edition.

Download Free TrialServer &PCs
Secure Download

(PS: The free trial version only works in 30 days, to create image backup for Windows Server continuously, it's suggested to upgrade server trial to the official version. You can enjoy 100$ OFF. )

After installing this software, open it and create backup image in Windows Server with the following steps. You can create backup image Windows Server 2012(R2) or other systems. 

1. Click Backup -> Disk Backup on the main window. 

Disk Backup

Note: You can choose System Backup to only backup Windows Server OS as well.

2. Tap + Add Disk to choose your Windows Server hard disk to backup.

Add Disk

Tip: Rename the Task Name to distinguish from other backups if required.

3. Choose a destination to save the Windows Server image backup.

Select Backup Destination

Tip: You could create image backup to multiple destinations, such as a local disk, external hard disk, NAS, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, etc.

4. Click Start backup >> button to create a Windows Server image backup.

Start Backup

Schedule Backup: you have flexible way to backup Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 automatically via once, daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers, or USB plug-in.
Backup Scheme: to delete old backup images automatically to free up space, please click Backup Scheme -> Enable Backup Scheme, and choose a backup scheme and the number of backups to retain. Also, you can choose backup method - Full/Incremental/Differential.
Options: you could modify the backup images to adjust the different destination types, like compress, split, encrypt(paid) the backup image, and comment on the task. Besides, you are able to enable email notification to get an email alert or SMS notification once the image backup Windows Server task finished.

Wait for a while, it will be finished quickly. The cost time depends on the data size on your source disk, the larger the data, the longer the backup time.

And you can easily restore Windows Server Image Backup in the Home tab. Below are the overall steps: 

1. Go to Home -> Disk Backup (the task name you specified) -> three bars icon -> Restore. (Or click Restore -> Select Task/Image File to choose Server backup image)

Disk Restore

2. Choose Restore the entire disk or Restore a partition in the disk, and select the corresponding item, click Next >>.

3. Choose a destination to restore, click Next >>.

4. Press Start Restore >>. Tick Universal Restore if restore Windows Server 2012 backup to another machine.


If your Windows computer won't boot, you need to boot your computer with the bootable disk you created earlier. If you don't have a bootable USB/CD/DVD etc, you can create a recovery environment on your computer in advance. It will help you to boot your computer successfully and enter the software interface.

Recover Environment


It’s easy to create image backup in Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019/2022 and Windows PCs with the 3 above server backup software: Windows Server Backup, WbAdmin, AOMEI Backupper Server. Just find the best Windows server backup software to backup Server according to your demands.

As the best free server backup solutions, AOMEI Backupper Server provides more features, like server cloud backup, transfer everything from one computer to another, disk clone, system clone, partition clone. If you just want to backup the changed files since the last backup, try incremental or differential backup, or real time sync to sync all the changed file as soon as possible.

If you would like to create, manage and monitor backups for all computers within the same LAN from one management console, please try AOMEI Centralized Backupper to enjoy.