How to Image Windows Server 2012 (R2) to New Hard Drive?

May 21, 2019

This tutorial will show you how to image Windows Server 2012 (R2) including VMware to new hard drive or network location in an efficient way.

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.

If you are looking for the disk image software for your personal computer at the same time, see free disk imaging software for Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows 10 tutorial.

Once you have regular images of Server 2012, you will not be flurried if you encounter virus attack, accidental system crash, or computer fails. 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.

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.

How to image Windows Server 2012 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. To do so, use the Add Roles and Features Wizard in Windows Server 2012 to add the Windows Backup role.

Once added, open Server Manager and then click on the Tools menu, selecting 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

However, there is something important that you have to acknowledge.

  • 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.

You have to make it clear that the type of storage location that you choose will impact what you can recover. With so many limitations and simple operation, you may not manage Server to your heart’s desire. If you wish to backup to USB flash drive or disks that are formatted FAT32, or you need more advanced features like incremental backup Windows Server 2012, you can turn to Windows Server Backup alternative software--AOMEI Backupper.

How to take image of Windows Server 2012 with powerful backup utility?

AOMEI Backupper Server is professional backup, disaster recovery, and disk clone software that possesses multiple features for both novices and IT experts. You can perform scheduled backup, incremental & differential backup, command line backup, partition/file backup, and universal restore, sector-by-sector clone and so on with this program.

Further, it supports NTFS, FAT32/FAT16, exFAT/ReFS, Ext2/Ext3/Ext4, and other file systems that could be recognized by Windows. With it, you can create bootable USB drive to perform Server image without booting operating system.

In the very first place, get the free trail of AOMEI Backupper Server to give it a shot. Plug in a new hard drive in advance.

Step1. Install and launch it. Choose “Backup”-> “System Backup”.

System Backup

Step2. Edit “Task Name” if you want to, choose the new hard drive in “Step2”. Then click "Start Backup".

Steps of backing up

Step3. Click “Finish” when the task has been completed.

Backup Progress


  • On completion. Shut down PC: close down your computer when it has been finished. You can change options with the triangle icon.
  • Backup Options: support comment backup task, compress or split backup image, and VSS copy Server.
  • Schedule: choose a backup mode from Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event-trigger, USB plug in, and Real-time file sync. Set backup type from Full/Incremental/Differential Backup.
  • Scheme: delete old backups to save disk space and keep backup image up-to-date at the same time.
  • Check backup integrity on completion: check whether the backup image is intact or not.


In three straightforward steps, you are able to image Windows Server 2012 to new hard drive easily. Once disaster happens, you can restore Windows Server 2012 with image from the new hard drive. These steps could be used to backup C drive in Windows Server 2003 as well. Other than Windows Server 2012, AOMEI Backupper Server, in fact, supports all kinds of PC operating system, as well as Windows Server 2003/2008(R2)/2012 R2, SBS 2011/2003/2008 (both 32 & 64 bit).

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.

If you want to protect unlimited PCs and servers within your company, you may choose AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus. It offers unlimited billable technical services to clients. It also enables you to copy installation directory for portable version creation.