By Ivy / Last update October 13, 2021

How to create incremental backup in Windows Server 2012?

I just used Windows Server Backup (WSB) create a scheduled full backup, I read a post from Microsoft that Windows Server Backup will do incremental backups automatically. But I don’t think it works in my case, It only create full VHD files, no incremental files created. Does Windows Server Backup do incremental backups?

- Question from

Does Windows Server 2012 Do Incremental Backups Automatically?

Since Windows Server 2008 R2, Microsoft announced that "You no longer need to manage full and incremental backups. Instead, Windows Server Backup will, by default, create an incremental backup that behaves like a full backup. You can recover any item from a single backup, but the backup will only occupy space needed for an incremental backup. In addition, Windows Server Backup does not require user intervention to periodically delete older backups to free up disk space for newer backups - older backups are deleted automatically".

According to this, what Windows Server Backups create may look like full backups, but in reality they may be incremental backups that "behaves like full backups". They can be restored independently, but only take up the space of incremental backups.

This sounds very smart, but in practice, many users find that Windows Server Backup does not perform as well as they would like, and prefer to set it up according to their needs. If so, don't worry, Windows still keep the option to select full backup or incremental backup manually. 

Create Server 2012 Incremental Backup in Windows Server Backup

In Windows Server 2012, Server 2016, Server 2019 and so on, you could choose to perform incremental backup following the steps listed below:

After installing Windows Server Backup, please open this Windows backup software:

1. Click Configure Performance Settings..., and then tick Faster backup performance, and click OK.

Windows Server Backup Incremental Backup Server 2012

❀ The Faster backup performance option tracks the changes since the last backup, which called incremental backup.
❀ Or you could tick Custom option, and choose Incremental backup for all the volumes you would like to backup.

2. And then click Backup Schedule... or Backup Once... and follow the on-screen prompt to create a new incremental backup in Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, 2019.

Backup Once

With Windows Server Backup, you could also create Wbadmin bare mental recovery, wbadmin incremental backup, create wbamdin file backup, etc.

However, Windows Server Backup has some restrictions:

  • Windows Server Backup will not shrink the storage space of shadow copies to 1/8 below the target volume size while storing backups on a target disk that is full.

  • Removable media is not supported, such as tape, CD, USB flash drive, etc.

  • Only the latest backup exist if you backed up to a shared network folder.

Besides, you may find Windows Server not doing increment backups, cannot delete old backup images automatically, etc. Is there any Windows Server Backup alternative to do incremental backup in Windows Server 2012?

Best Way to Do Windows Server 2012 Incremental Backup

Considering these reasons, It’s highly recommended to try the best Windows Server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server to create full backup, incremental backup, differential backup as you want in Windows Server 2003 (R2), 2008 (R2), 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, 2022 and SBS 2003, 2008, 2011. It has the ability to backup everything from individual files, folders to partitions and complete servers, and support for a wide range of backup devices.

Compared with Windows Server Backup (WSB), AOMEI Backupper provides more backup types, and more flexible to use. It’s recommended by millions of users all over the world due to its reliable performance and intuitive interface.

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Here is how it works to create Windows Server 2012 incremental backup easily (take disk backup to network share location):

Step 1. Perform AOMEI Backupper Server, choose Backup > Disk Backup in turn.

Disk Backup

Step 2. Click Add Disk to choose Windows Server 2012 Disk(s) to backup, and press Next >>.

Add Disk

Step 3. Hit triangle icon and choose Select a network location, then click Add Network Location, input the Network Path (IP address of the network location), and its credentials, click OK. Choose a folder as the destination to save the Windows Server 2012 incremental backups.

Select Destination

Add Network Path

Step 4. Click Schedule, choose a mode in General, and then tick Incremental Backup (Default), press OK.

Schedule Settings General

Schedule Settings Advanced

★There are some other optional settings you could set up:
❀ Options allows you to comment on, encrypt, split, compress the incremental backup, as well as enable email or SMS notification, etc.
❀ Scheme permits you Enable Backup Scheme to delete old backup images automatically while the backups exceed the number you specified to avoid the backup disk full problem.

Step 5. Tap Start Backup >> to create Windows Server 2012 incremental backup safely. Choose Add the schedule and start backup now to backup Windows Server 2012 immediately.

Start Backup to NAS Scheduled

It will create a full backup when the Windows Server 2012 incremental backup first running, and at the next you specified time, It will create backups incrementally.

All the above steps are also applied to incremental backup for Windows Server 2016, 2019, 2022, etc.

Supplement: Windows Server Backup Incremental vs Full

Generally, there are three backup types you could use to protect your Windows Server 2012: full backup, incremental backup, differential backup.

However, there only two Windows Server Backup backup types: Full backup, and Incremental Backup.

  • Full Backup helps you backup all the data you specified on a location.

  • Incremental backup will backup the changes since the last backup, which is the fastest backup among the backup types, and requires the least storage space on the backup media, especially in environments where backup time or backup storage media are extremely constrained.

Other third-party backup software offers you the Differential backup, which only backup changes since the last full backup.


As for restoring data from these backups, you should know the differences:

  • If you only created full backup, just restore data with the full backup, the restore time will be the shortest.

  • If you created incremental backups, you have restore all the data with the full backup and all the chained incremental backups. The restore time will be the longest.

  • To restore data with differential backups, use the full backup and the last differential backup.

Summing It Up

Although Windows Server Backup could helps you to create incremental backup in Windows Server 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019, 2022, it will go wrong to backup data sometimes. If you suffer from the pain of Windows Server Backup, please try the best Windows Server backup software - AOMEI Backupper to do you a big favor.

Moreover, If you prefer to protect unlimited PCs and Servers, please try AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus to enjoy more features, like dissmiliar hardware restore, command line backup/restore/clone, dynamic disk volume backup/restore/clone, transfer files between Windows Servers, etc.