By Jessie / Last update October 8, 2021

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Why image Windows Server 2012 (R2)?

Windows Server 2012 is mostly used by small to medium business company administers and IT experts in large companies as well as some individual fans. Therefore, server 2012 contains not only personal documents and files but also, more importantly, the significant information and commercial data of clients. Thus, to image Windows Server 2012 to new hard drive or to network drive or other storage devices is extremely urgent.

When you image Windows Server, mostly, you are doing a system backup of that computer, which includes system state, settings, and all important applications in Server 2012. Once you have regular images of Server 2012, you will not be flurried if you encounter virus attack, accidental system crash, or computer fails. 

In which, system state consists of Active Directory, System volume(if it is a domain controller), Certificate Services(certification authority only), Cluster Database(cluster node only), Boot Files, The Registry, Performance counter configuration information, and Component Services Class registration database. If an unfortunate accident occurs, you can reduce server downtime and ensure business continuity using Windows Server 2012 system image.

Create Windows Server 2012 image backup using Windows Server Backup

The first solution that comes into your mind might be a built-in backup tool in Windows Server 2012, Windows Server Backup. Well, there is no ready-made backup function in Server 2012, so you need to add it first. To get start, you’ll first need to install Windows Backup Role using the Add Roles and Features Wizard in Windows Server 2012.

Once added, open Server Manager and click on the Tools menu, select Windows Server Backup and install it. Then go “Local Backup”-> “Backup Schedule” (backup once is available)-> “Select Backup Configuration”-> “Specify Backup Time” (once a day, more than once a day)-> “Specify Destination Type” - > “Confirmation”. 

After setting the personal configurations, you can start to backup. Please note that if you choose “back up to a shared network folder”, you have to input the location and offer administrator information when necessary.

Add Feature

Windows Server Backup utility limitations & alternative

It's ok if you want to image Windows Server 2012 with Windows Server Backup. However, you may need to use Windows Server Backup alternative software in the following situations or just want more advanced features like incremental backup Windows Server 2012. 

  • Size limit. You cannot use Windows Server Backup to back up files and folders on volumes that more than 2040 GB (or 2 TB).

  • File System limit. You cannot store backups on disks that are formatted FAT32—the disks should be formatted NTFS because Windows Server Backup uses shadow copies to maintain backup versions.

  • Destination path limit. You cannot store backups on USB flash drives or pen drives.

  • Permission limit. To use Windows Server Backup, you must be a member of the Backup Operators or Administrators group, or you must have been delegated the appropriate authority.

As for alternative software, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Server, a professional backup and disaster recovery software, which integrates multiple outstandaing features for both novices and IT experts to protect server computer. 

You can use it to backup system/disk/partition/files or folders together with various backup options, including daily/weekly/monthly schedule backup, Event trigers, USB plug in, full/incremental/differential backup, 5 different backup scheme, comment backup task, VSS copy server etc. Also, it supports all file system recognized by Windows, such as,NTFS, FAT32/FAT16, exFAT/ReFS, Ext2/Ext3/Ext4 etc.

Image Windows Server 2012 to new hard drive with AOMEI Backupper Server

Here you will use server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server to create Windows Server 2012 image backup and then you can restore system image to different computer in the event of a disaster, even with different hardware. Also, you can use this software on other server computer, such as, Wndows Server 2008/2011/2016/2019/2022 and its R2 version.

Without further ado, let's get started to image Windows Server 2012 (R2). In the very first place, click the download  button below to get the free-trail and follow the steps below to backup your server. Please remember to plug in a new hard drive into your computer and make sure it can be detected. 

Download Free Trial Windows Server & PC
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Step 1. Launch the professional server backup software - AOMEI Backupper, then you will see its deep-blue screen. Choose “Backup”-> “System Backup” to start this imaging task.

System Backup

Note: If your target disk has enough space, you can choose to backup entire disk with "Disk Backup" feature. Also, you can backup specific files or folders with "File Backup" feature.

Step 2. Edit “Task Name” if you want to, and then choose the new hard drive by clicking the bar that the arrow points. Then click "Start Backup" to image Windows Server 2012 (R2) to new hard drive.

Image Windows Serve 2012 to New Hard Drive

Notes: To make this task simple and efficient, you still need to somthing important. Please wait for a while and check them carefully.
◉ To distinguish this backup task from others, you need to make a comment on it by "Options".
◉ To continuously protect your server without missing any changes, you could set a schedule backup for your server, such as, daily incremental backup. Also, you can combine daily/weekly/monthly backup and full/incremental/differential backup at will.
◉ If your target disk is a USB flash drive, you could use "USB plug in" feature to backup system automatically. You just need to plug it in your server computer even without opening this software.
◉ It's suggested to enable backup scheme to delete old backup if you create a schedule backup. Therefore, you don't need to worry about low disk space.

Step 3. Click “Finish” when the task has been completed.


During the backup process, you will see a "Settings" icon at the lower-left corner. Tick "Check backup integrity on completion" feature to check if your data is intact. Also, you can specify what the computer will do on completion among Shut down PC, Restart PC, Hibernate, and Sleep. 

Backup Progress Settings

Now, you may successfully create a system image in Windows Server 2012 (R2) and save it to new hard drive. Then, it's suggested to create bootable USB drive, so you can easily restore server computer even it fails to boot. 

But if you have multiple computers or need to perform batch operations, such as, deploy image to multiple computers simultaneously, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper TechPlus. In addition, it offers unlimited billable technical services to clients, and allows you to copy installation directory for portable version creation.


You can choose to image Windows Server 2012 to new hard drive with Windows Server Backup or AOMEI Backupper Server, it's all your decision. Once disaster happens, you can restore Windows Server 2012 with image created by them. Also, it supports newer OS like Windows Server 2022 or 2019.

Considering simplicity and efficiency, you'd better use the later one. It not only has clear interface and user-friendly design, but also offers users more backup features, such as, schedule backup, event triggers, USB plug in, incremental & differential backup, backup scheme, encryption, 3 compression level etc. 

Besides, common storage device like SSD, HDD, SSHD, hardware RAID, CD/DVD/BD-R/RW, USB, PC card, NAS and uncommon storage device, like IDE, SATA, iSCSI, SCSI disk, IEEE1394 (Firewire), Hyper-V, Virtual box, VMware virtual disk and other virtual systems etc. could be recognized, too.