By AOMEI / Last Updated October 29, 2020

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.

What to prepare for bare metal restore?

Windows Server Backup (WSB) was first introduced in Windows Server 2008. To perform bare metal restore, 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”.

Bare Metal Backup

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 restore 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.

Windows Server bare metal recovery:

Step 1. Insert the Windows Server installation disc on your new server 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 restore server.

PC Restore

Step 4. In the next screen, select the bare metal 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 may be your case or you want something simpler, you can try superior server backup software - AOMEI Backupper to restore the server to dissimilar hardware.

Bare metal restore with AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper Server is specialized backup and restore software that works for both Windows Server operating systems (Windows Server 2019/2016 (R2)/2012 (R2)/2008 (R2)/2003, etc) and Windows PC operating systems (Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP). Unlike Windows Server Backup, it allows you to restore to a smaller disk when performing bare metal recovery.

As you know, your new server may have different firmware with the original. In that case, Windows Restore will fail because of UEFI/BIOS. Luckily, you can use AOMEI Backupper because it is capable of restoring from MBR to GPT disk directly, and vice versa. Download the 30-day free trial to run bare metal restore via AOMEI Backupper.

Note: Before you can restore Windows Server to dissimilar hardware with 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.

To run Windows Server bare metal recovery:

Step 1. Connect the bootable media to your new server and boot from it. 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

In a short while, the process will be complete. Then you can start your server and enjoy it.

To sum up

How to perform Windows Server Backup bare metal recovery? This page has given you a step-by-step guide and offered another tool to help with bare metal backup and recovery. Compared to Windows Server Backup bare metal recovery, "Universal Restore" of AOMEI Backupper is easier and faster. You do not need to worry about different firmware and capacity of the destination hard drive or SSD.

If you just want to move the system to a server with the same hardware, you can clone hard drive with AOMEI Backupper and then install the cloned hard drive to your new server machine.

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.