By AOMEI / Last update September 10, 2021

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What is bare metal recovery in Windows Server Backup?

Bare metal recovery (BMR) is a feature of Windows Server Backup that allows you to restore your operating system (OS) or the entire system to another machine with dissimilar hardware from “bare metal”. It does not require any installed software or system on the destination machine, so you can also use BMR to migrate OS to virtual machine and back.

Bare Metal Backup

Windows Server bare metal restore with Windows Server Backup 

What to prepare for bare metal restore?

Windows Server Backup (WSB) was first introduced in Windows Server 2008. To use Windows Server Backup to restore bare metal, you need to:

1. Create a bare metal backup of Windows Server 2008 (R2), 2012 (R2), 2016 or 2019. When creating the Windows Server bare metal backup with WSB, you need to select the item “Bare Metal Recovery”.

2. To be able to use Windows Recovery Environment, you need a Windows Server recovery disk or installation disc. If you want to restore Windows Server 2012, the recovery disk must be made in Windows Server 2012.

3. Make sure the destination hard drive to receive the bare metal recovery has enough disk space. If you want to restore to a new machine, the new hard drive needs to be in the same size or larger than the source disk that was backed up regardless of the size of the data.

How to perform Windows Server bare metal recovery step by step

With the things prepared, you can follow the steps below to restore your Windows Server to another machine. This method applies to Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2019 including R2. Some details on entering the recovery environment may be different.

Step 1. Insert the Windows Server installation disc on your new server (here is server 2008) and boot from it. Select the language and keyboard, and then click “Next”.

Install Windows

Step 2. In the next screen, click “Repair your computer” instead of “Install now”. Then, select the operating system that you want to repair and click “Next”.

Repair Your Computer

Step 3. All the recovery options will be listed here. If you prefer to use the command line, you can select “Command Prompt” to perform Wbadmin bare metal recovery. Otherwise, select “Windows Complete PC Restore” to perform Windows Server Backup restore.

PC Restore

Note: If the Windows Server bare metal backup is created on 2012 or later version, the recovery tool in the Windows recovery environment will be "System Image Recovery" rather than "Windows Complete PC Restore". Just select it and then choose bare matal backup to be restored.

Step 4. In the next screen, select the BMR backup image to be restored and click “Next”. If the image is saved on an external hard drive, you should connect the drive to your new server.

Choose Backup

Step 5. After specifying the backup version, click “Finish” to start the bare metal restore. This might take a while depending on how much data to be restored.


When the process is complete, you can boot your old OS on the new server machine. As mentioned, if the destination disk is smaller than the source disk, the recovery will fail with an error: Could not complete the server restore. If that is your case or you want something simpler, you can try superior server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server to restore Windows server to dissimilar hardware.

Advanced backup software for Windows Server 2019/2016/2012 

AOMEI Backupper Server has strong compatibility, so you can use it on all the Windows system, including Windows 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 and its R2 version, Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP.  And it allows you to create a recovery disk on any server computer and use it on the rest of Windows computer for disaster recovery. Moreover, it is able to restore system to a smaller disk when performing bare metal recovery. 

In addition, there is a possibility that your new server has different firmware, and you may encounter this error - system image restore fails because of UEFI/BIOS. Luckily, if you use AOMEI Backupper Server, you can restore system from MBR to GPT disk directly, and vice versa. Download the 30-day free trial to run bare metal restore with it.

Download Free Trial Windows Server & PC
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Windows Server bare metal recovery with AOMEI Backupper Server

 Before you can restore Windows Server to dissimilar hardware with server migration tool AOMEI Backupper, you need to create a system image backup with the System Backup feature, and then create a bootable USB flash drive or bootable DVD/CD using the Create Bootable Media function (or enable AOMEI Backupper recovery environment: Tools > Recovery Environment).

Here take bare metal recovery Windows Server 2012 as an example to show you the entire process, please see below and follow the step by step guide.

Step 1. Connect the bootable media to your new server and boot from it (Or boot from AOMEI Backupper recovery environment). If you have saved the backup image on an external drive, connect the drive to your new server as well.

Step 2. After loading the main interface of AOMEI Backupper, click "Restore" and “Select Image File” to locate the backup image you created before.

Select Image File

Step 3. In the “Image Information” page, select “Restore this system backup” and tick “Restore system to other location” in the bottom.

Restore to Other Location

Step 4. Specify the destination location to receive the server bare metal restore, and then click "Next” to continue.

Select Destination

Step 5. In the “Operation Summary” page, preview the operation to be executed. Tick the "Universal Restore" option to ensure the system is bootable if you are letting Windows Server Backup restore to different computer. Click "Start Restore" to start the restoration.

Preview Restore

Tip: If you just want to move system to a server with the same hardware, you could try another easier way, namely, clone system with "System Clone" or clone hard drive with "Disk Clone". After cloning, you can install the drive on new server and boot from it without restoring image first. 

In a short while, the process will be completed, then you start your new server and enjoy it. This is too simple for users with only a few computers, but it will a tedious and time-consuming work for small and medium companies. 

At this time, you could consider using AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus, which can help you deploy system to multiple computers simultaneously together with unlimited billable technical services. In addition, you can copy installation directory for portable version creation.

Want a more efficient way to run bare metal recovery in Windows Server?

Specialized onekey recovery software - AOMEI OneKey Recovery can help you backup and restore system in all Windows OS, including Windows 10/8/7 and Windows Server 2019/2016/2012, etc. If you have run onekey system backup when you got your new server, you can perform bare metal restore with the following steps:

Step 1. Load AOMEI OneKey Recovery from Windows PE. Choose one method to do this:

  • For the traditional BIOS system, press F11 or A at startup to launch AOMEI OneKey Recovery.
  • For EFI/UEFI based system, choose “AOMEI OneKey Recovery” in the Windows boot menu to launch it.

Step 2. When AOMEI OneKey Recovery is loaded, you'll be asked, "Do you need to restore your system?" Click "Yes" to continue.

WinPE Restore

Step 3. Confirm the destination partition(s) to receive the bare metal server backup image and click "Start Restore".

Confirm Restore

Step 4. Wait for the restoration process to be done and click "Finish". Exit AOMEI OneKey Recovery and your server will boot normally.

To sum up

How to perform Windows Server Backup bare metal recovery? You could use built-in Windows Server Backup or third-party server backup and restore software - AOMEI Backupper. Considering simplicity and efficiency issues, the latter one will be a better choice to perform bare metal backup and recovery.

Similar to Windows Server Backup bare metal recovery feature, its "Universal Restore" is to ensure secure boot when you migrate to a new server with dissimilar hardware. Also, you do not need to worry about different firmware and capacity of the destination hard drive or SSD. Moreover, the recovery disk created with it is univeral, saving time and effort.