Full Guide to Restore VHD File in Windows 2008 (R2) Server

If you want to restore VHD file in Windows 2008 (R2) server, but Microsoft does not find the backup image on network, please continue to see below and this article offers you 2 helpful methods.


by Ivy Updated on October 20, 2022

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VHD stand for virtual hard disk, which is a common disk image (also called a virtual machine) format used as part of the Hyper-V feature of Windows Server 2008 (R2). It can store files, folders, file system, and disk partitions and encapsulate these data in a single file.

How do I restore a windows backup VHD?

"I made a backup of a virtual machine running on Hyper-V. It's Windows Server 2008. The backup is a VHD. How do I do a full system restore on this? I've tried booting to a windows installation disc and doing a restore from a share, but that's resulting in an error message: The selected system image cannot be restored in this recovery environment. Any ideas?"

Restore VHD File Windows 2008 Server

Why you cannot find the backup image?

Sometimes, users choose to backup files to network drive via VHD, but some of them cannot find the backup image from VHD file when they try to restore the computer using installation disc. Below are some possible reasons for this problem:

  • The regular Network Adapter in Hyper –V requires drivers under Server 2008 (R2), that’s to say, if there is not drivers, the Windows Recovery Environment cannot use network card and you cannot find the image on the network. Please install a Legacy Network Adapter in your virtual machine before restoring VHD files.
  • The backup image created by Windows Server Backup does not contain boot loader.
  • Beside, there is a possibility that you boot from the recovery environment via F8 instead of installation disc. 

After learning all the possible causes, you may think about some of solutions, for example, restore VHD file in Windows Server 2008 (R2) using installation disc. It definitely works and you still can try other solutions in the following.

How to restore VHD file in Windows 2008 (R2) Server

In fact, to restore VHD to physical disk correctly in Windows Server 2008 (R2), You have two methods, one is to restore VHD file in Windows Server 2008 (R2) using installation disc, the other one is to create a new virtual machine and attach this VHD file on it. 

Before starting, you need to be sure the following 2 things: 

  •  Get the correct VHD locations that contains backup. For example: \\\share\backup.
  • Confirm both your computer and the backup on the same network.

Then, select a method and follow the corresponding steps to restore VHD file. 

Way 1: Restore VHD file in Windows Server 2008 (R2) using installation disc

Step 1. Insert the installation disc into your computer, set boot priority to this disc and press any key to boot from it when prompted. In the first screen, set up language and other preference and click Next.

Step 2. Click Repair your computer > Troubleshoot > System Recovery Options > Windows Complete PC Restore in order. 

PC Restore

Step 3. Select Windows Server 2008 (R2).

Step 4. Click Cancel if it does not find a backup image and then Next > Advanced > Search for a system image on the network

Step 5. Click Yes to confirm you want to connect to network.  Then, it will ask you to specify the location of your backup image, you need to click Cancel twice > Troubleshoot > Command Prompt and then type the following commands, because it cannot find the VHD file. 

  • net use \\\share\backup(this command is used to connect the network share that contains the VHD file. Type user name and password if needed.)

  • diskpart

  • select vdisk file=”\\\share\backup\backup.vhd”

  • attach vdisk

Step 6. Type exit twice to exit Diskpart and Command Prompt window. Then, go to the Windows Complete PC Restore window, and you are able to find the latest backup image. Just tick Select a system image and follow the prompt to finish the rest of the steps. 

Select Location

Way 2: Create a new virtual machine and restore VHD file

Step 1. Launch Hyper-V Manager, connect to your server, right-click the server name and select New > Virtual Machine… Click Next on the pop-up wizard.

Create New Virtual Machine

Step 2. Specify a name for hyper-V VM and uncheck the Store the virtual machine in a different location option

Step 3. Select the generation your VM was. Click Next.

Specify Generation

Step 4. Specify the amount of memory to allocate to this virtual machine. Click Next.

Step 5Configure the network adapter to use a virtual switch, or remain disconnected. Click Next.

Configure Networking

Step 6. Tick Use an existing virtual hard disk and click Browse… to find the .vhd file. Click Next and  Finish to restore VHD files in Windows 2008 Server. 

Use an existing virtual hard disk


Easier Way to backup and restore image in Windows 2008 (R2) Server

The process of restoring VHD file in Windows Server 2008 (R2) is hard, and many users report the Windows does not find a backup image on network share. And you cannot receive any security update from Microsoft from January 14, 2020 and your server computer has a high risk of data loss.

Anyway, the built-in backup software is not a good choice. I strongly recommend you using best server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server. It's very easy-to-use, even for a beginner, and has many useful features: 

  • Schedule Backup: It supports daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers (eg: system shutdown), and USB plug in. All of them helps you backup your system regularly, including the latest updates, newly installed apps, modified files etc.
  • Backup Scheme: It is divided into two parts, namely backup and cleanup methods, both helps you save your backup time and disk space, or directly free up space. You could use incremental or differential backup to backup only changed files or directly delete old backup images with By quantity, By time or By daily/weekly/monthly. 

  • Various restore methods: It is able to restore system, disk, partition, or files to new hard drive, or computer, even with different hardware. selective file restore is supported. 

Creating a system backup in Windows Server 2008 (R2)

Download, install and open AOMEI Backupper Server, click Backup and select System Backup, then select destination path and click Start Backup

Download Free Trial Server 2008/2012/2016/2019/2022
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  • For continuous data protection, it's suggested to set schedule backup, incremental or differential backup, automatic backup cleanup, etc. Thus, you will always have multiple backups.
  • For destination, you can backup image to external hard drive, network drive, NAS, internal hard drive, Google Drive, etc. 

Restoring system backup to new hard drive or computer

Once you have a backup, you can restore your system backup at any time. To restore system image, you can click Restore and Select Task, then select a system image backup and tick Restore this system backup, finally choose a destination path and click Start Restore to move on. 



  • If your backup does not on the same computer, you can copy your backup to USB disk and then restore backup from external hard drive.
  • If you want to restore image on a different computer with dissimilar hardware, please remember to check if the Universal Restore feature is checked. Otherwise, your new computer will not boot. 
  • If you need to deploy system image to multiple computers, try image deployment software. It's available on the techplus edition of AOMEI Backupper. 

Wrapping thing up

If you want to restore VHD file on Windows 2008(R2) Server but encounter the problem Microsoft does not find backup image on network share, read this article and learn 2 helpful methods above. Considering system and data security, it's suggested to use third-party server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server as instead. 

Thanks to its clear interface and user-friendly design, most users can finish the entire process effortlessly with a step by step guide and keep all the changes you made later with its schedule backup (eg: USB plug in) while using least space. In a disaster, you can easily restore system to new hard drive or computer, even with different hardware.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.