By Ivy / Last update January 8, 2021

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Why Backup Windows Server?

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

Windows Server store 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.

In this post, you will find several server backup solutions for you to easily protect Windows Server.

Create Server Backup Image with Windows Server Backup (WSB)

There is a free server backup software named Windows Server Backup (WSB) in Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 (R2), which designed for you 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.

First of all, you have to install Windows Server Backup 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

Add Roles Wizard

Here we will show you how to create Windows Server 2016 backup with Backup Once mode:

1. Please go Server Manager -> Tools -> Windows Server Backup, right-click Local Backup and select Backup Schedule or Backup Once (here is Backup Once) to create Server image backup for Windows Server 2016:

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 2016.


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 2016 image backup, and click Next.

Local Drives

Backup Destination

6. Preview the settings of system image backup for Windows Server 2016, and click Backup to backup Windows Server 2016.

Backup System State

Backup Windows Server 2019 with WBAdmin

As a matter of fact, there is a command line tool - wbadmin, which is the command version of Windows Server Backup, could help you create server image backup at a technician level.

In Windows Server 2019, the wbadmin command line utility has a little difference, the subcommands listed here:

  • 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.

To create bare metal backup for Windows Server 2019, please input 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 2019 from data loss.

Nevertheless, the Wbadmin command line tool is quite more complex to operate, if you prefer an easier way to backup Windows Servers, please try the following method.

Windows Server Backup Limitations

However, the Windows Server Backup has some limitations to create Server image backup, and you have to pay attention to:

  • Backup of volumes greater than 2 TB was not supported and 512-byte sectors were required in Windows Server 2003 (R2) and 2008 (R2). Although Windows Server 2012 and later could backup volumes greater than 2 terabytes (TB) and with 4 K sector sizes.

  • 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.

  • There will only one the latest backup if you would like to backup to a shared network folder.

Any better Windows server backup software to backup Server 2003/2012/2016/2019?

Best Way to Create Image Backup for Windows Server

The best Windows server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server, which is designed for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 (all editions, 32-bit and 64-bit) and Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019(including R2) to backup entire disk, partition, Windows server operating system, and other business data, which could help you to overcome the limitations.

AOMEI Backupper Server is capable of backing up large volume, deleting old backup images automatically, supporting more destination type, and you could backup and restore using command prompt (AMBackup.exe) and restore individual files from the backup image, etc.

Please download the Windows server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server 30 day free trial first and follow the step-by-step guide to create backup image in Windows Server (create backup image Windows Server 2012(R2) for example):

Download Free Trial Windows PCs & Servers
Secure Download

Step by Step Guide to Create Windows Server 2012 (R2) Image Backup

1. Click Backup -> Disk Backup on the main window (Or choose System Backup to only backup Windows Server 2012 OS).

Disk Backup

2. Tap + Add Disk to choose your Windows Server 2012 (R2) 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 2012 (R2) 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 2012 (R2) image backup.

Start Backup

Schedule: 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.
Scheme: to delete old backup images automatically to free up space, please click Scheme -> Enable Backup Scheme, and choose a backup scheme and the number of backups to retain.
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 depending on the data size on your source disk, the larger the data, the longer the backup time. Besides, you could realize selective file restore, restore to dissimilar hardware computer, etc.

How to Restore Windows Image Backup in Server 2012 (R2)?

1. Please 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.


It’s easy to create image backup in Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 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.