Windows Server 2016 Incremental & Differential Backup Guide

This guide will show you how to create incremental and differential backup in Windows Server 2016 with Windows Server Backup step by step. You will also learn the method to set multiple incremental or differential backup tasks with powerful third-party software.


By Maggie Updated on December 12, 2023

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Incremental and differential backup in Windows Server 2016

With the growth of business and industry, the amount of data that needs backing up is increasingly large. To take a full copy will take much space and time. Therefore, new backup methods were introduced -- differential backup, which creates a copy of data modified since the last full backup. And incremental backup, which creates a copy of the data that was added or modified since the last incremental backup. 

Server 2016

Windows Server Backup, the built-in backup and restore tool in Windows Server 2016, supports full backup and incremental backup. However, it only allows you to create one daily scheduled backup task. If you prefer differential backup or want to set multiple schedule backup tasks, such as a daily backup task for the folders you use every day and a weekly backup task for system state drive, you can refer to Part 2 to get third-party backup software to achieve the goal.

Part 1. How to create incremental backup in Windows Server

In Windows Server 2016, if you set up a scheduled backup task, it will be performed as incremental backup by default. Therefore, you need to only create a simple scheduled backup job. You can also change it to always run full backup in the Configure Performance.

To create a scheduled incremental backup:

1. Open the Windows Server Backup under Administrative Tools. On the right side of the interface, you will find two backup types, “Backup Schedule...” and “Backup Once...”. Here we should choose Backup Schedule...

Select Backup Type

2. In the next screen, choose what to be included in the backup.

Select Backup Configuration

3. Specify the time run to backup. You can set it to run once a day or more frequently, but you cannot use it to run Windows Server Backup weekly or after certain days.

Specify Backup Time

4. Specify destination type from backup disk, backup volume or network shared folder. When you select a whole hard drive as a backup disk, the hard drive will be reformatted, so make sure that there is no important data in it.

5. Select the destination location. If you want to backup to volume, note that only the partition formatted with NTFS can be selected as backup volume.

Select Destination Disk

6. Confirm the operation, and click Finish to start the backup job.


After that, the daily incremental backup will be running on your Windows Server 2016. However, quite a few users have reported that it not running on schedule as expected sometimes. In case you meet such a problem in the future, you can bookmark this Fix Windows Server Backup Schedule not working problem article.

Comparing the difference between incremental and differential backup, you may also want to perform a differential backup. If you are not content with Windows Server Backup for lack of some crucial features like notifications, weekly scheduled backup, differential backup, you can use specialized backup software for Windows Server.

Part 2. Create multiple incremental backup or differential backup tasks

1. AOMEI Backupper Server

If you are looking for advanced and easy-to-understand server backup software, AOMEI Backupper Server may just be the one. You can configure multiple backup tasks according to your needs. You can use it to perform incremental and differential backup in Windows Server 2016 with just a few clicks.

It offers system backup, file backup, hard drive backup, and partition backup. You can use it to perform a bare metal backup and recovery.
It allows you to create daily/weekly/monthly scheduled backup performed with full/incremental/differential backups.
It enables you to delete old backups automatically to release disk space using Backup Scheme.
It supports many file systems including NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3 and many operating systems including Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, and 2022.
It also provides many backup options, such as email notification, encryption, and compression.

Besides, AOMEI Backuppper Server has a user-friendly interface. You can create multiple scheduled backups in a few clicks. Get the tool and the steps to enable an incremental or differential backup.

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To enable a Windows Server backup in differential or incremental mode:

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Backupper Server. Under Backup tab, choose to use System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup, or File Backup to backup Servers. Let’s take System Backup as an example.

System Backup

Step 2. Click the second box below the arrow to specify the location path to store the backup image as the program will automatically select the required partition(s) for system backup. All the locations the File Explorer detects are supported as destination location without worrying about the file system.

Select Path

Step 3. In the lower left corner of this program, click Schedule Backup to set up the time that you want to run backup.

Schedule Settings

Step 4. In the Schedule window, click Backup Scheme to enable Disk Space Management to delete previous backups using a certain cleanup method. Incremental backup is enabled by default as the backup method. You can choose to perform Windows Server backup in differential mode as per your need.

Backup Scheme

Step 5. Click Options button to see more options. Then click Start Backup to start the backup job.

Start Backup

2. AOMEI Cyber Backup

The best enterprise backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup provides a convenient and reliable solution for centralized backup management of all Windows operating systems.

  • It enables you to create system/disk/partition backup for a bunch of Windows PCs and Servers, supporting Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 and Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012 (R2)/2008 (R2).
  • You are allowed to save backup images on a local disk, external hard drive, network share or NAS device, etc.
  • You can schedule a backup task to run daily/weekly/monthly using the full/incremental/differential backup method.

Download this powerful enterprise backup software now and learn how to run system state backup for Server 2016 below.

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Step 1. Install and run AOMEI Cyber Backup. The default username and password for AOMEI Cyber Backup are both "admin". Enter them and click Log in.

Step 2. Click Source Device > Windows > Add Windows Device to add the Windows Server 2016 device that you want to backup. You need to enter the IP address, username and password of it.

Step 3. Create a new backup task.

  • Click Backup Task on the left menu bar and select Backup Task > Create New Task.
  • In the Backup Type field, select System Backup.

Select Backup Type

  • In the Task Name field, set your desired task name.
  • In the Device Name field, click Select + to select the device you just added.
  • In the Target field, click Select + and Add a new local storage or Add a new network storage to specify a destination path.

Choose Backup Target

  • In the Schedule field, you can see the default schedule settings: full backup every Monday and incremental backup every Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday. You may change incremental backup to differential backup as per your need.

Schedule Backup

  • Click Start Backup > Add the schedule and start backup now to launch the backup process.


After reading this article, you may know how to perform incremental and differential backup in Windows Server 2016. After comparison, AOMEI Backupper can bring you more practical functions and easier operation. Restoring the server backup is also quite simple. You can use bootable media (USB drive or CD) or AOMEI PXE tool to restore system backup or disk backup to the same server or another server with dissimilar hardware.

Apart from backup and restore, AOMEI Backupper also allows you to clone Windows Server 2016, like cloning the entire hard drive, or cloning only OS to SSD. 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.

Maggie · Editor
Maggie is a technical editor from AOMEI and troubleshoots technical problems against data protection. She has received professional and systematic technical training. With a focus on user experience, security, and problem-solving, she always puts herself in the readers' shoes and provides them with valuable technical insights.