By Teresa / Last Updated September 22, 2020

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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.

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 and disaster recovery software that possesses multiple features for both novices and IT experts.

✦ Backup categories
You are allowed to create image backups for the Server system, disks, partitions, and specified files/folders.
✦ Backup schedule
You can choose a schedule mode from Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event-trigger, USB plug in, and Real-time file sync. The scheduled backup can be performed in the way of Full/Incremental/Differential Backup.
✦ Backup scheme
It will delete old backups automatically to save disk space and keep backup images up-to-date at the same time.
✦ Backup options
You are able to comment backup task, compress or split backup image, and VSS copy Server.
✦ Other features
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.

Step 1. Install and launch it. Choose “Backup”-> “System Backup”.

System Backup

Step 2. Edit “Task Name” if you want to, and choose the new hard drive by clicking the bar that the arrow points. Then click "Start Backup".

Image Windows Serve 2012 to New Hard Drive

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



When the backup task is in progress, you can click the Settings icon at the lower-left corner to configure:

  • Check backup integrity on completion: check whether the backup image is intact or not.

  • Specify what the computer will do on completion: you can choose from Shut down PC, Restart PC, Hibernate, and Sleep.

Backup Progress Settings


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.