By Ivy / Last update October 26, 2021

Windows Server Backup cannot support volume greater than 2TB

I know that Windows Server 2008 R2, 2011, 2012 are limited to 2TB volume and the reasons is Windows Server Backup use VHD file and it has a 2TB backup limit. And I tried all suggestions on the internet but there is no luck. So, my question is: does anyone knows if there is a fix for 'Volumes larger than 2088958 megabytes cannot be protected'. Thanks in advance.

Windows Server Backup Greater Than 2tb

Possible reasons of the 2TB limitation 

This problem is usually found in earlier versions of Windows Server. Due to the limitation within Windows and the VHD file format, all volumes that are part of the backup must be less than 2TB in size.

☛ The limitation of VHD file

Instead of using BKF file (created by Windows NT and XP Pro), Windows Server Backup backup volumes to several virtual hard disk (VHD) files, each VHD file for a volume in the backup. 

A VHD file has a capacity limit of 2040 GB (2TB). So in early OS using this format like Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, you cannot back up file and folders on volumes that require more than 2040 GB.

☛ The limitation of MBR partitioning scheme

On the other hand, MBR (Master Boot Record), being an older partitioning scheme, sets a 32-bit limit on the number of bits that can be used to represent the number of logical sectors. The maximum number that can be represented using 32 bits is 4,294,967,295, which translates into a capacity of 2.199 TB by using 512 bytes of sectors. Thus it also leads to the 2TB barrier - any capacity over 2.2 TB cannot be addressed by using the MBR partitioning scheme.

To make more bits available for addressing, the storage device must be initialized by using GPT, which allows up to 64 bits of information to be used in logical sectors, and translates to a theoretical limit of 9.4 ZB.

However, some early systems (such as Windows Server 2003 and R2) are based on an aging BIOS platform, which only supports booting the computer from MBR-initialized disks.

To reboot from a device initialized with GPT, your system must be UEFI capable. This way even if your current partition scheme is MBR, you can convert it to GPT to break the 2TB barrier.

How to backup volume over 2TB in Windows Server

To fix 2TB backup limitation for WSB, you could consider the following 6 ideas:

1. Upgrade your server to newer versions

As mentioned before, early versions like Windows Server 2003, 2003 R2 and Windows XP don't supports UEFI, and therefore cannot boot from a GPT disk to break the 2TB limitation. In this case, you may need to upgrade to newer versions like Windows Server 2012, 2016, 2019, 2022 etc. You can click here to check more requirements information.

Also, Windows 8 + and Windows Server 2012 + can open and manipulate VHDX files natively, which can break the limiation caused by VHD format.

2. Convert MBR disk to GPT with Disk Management

To make operating system fully support storage devices that have capacities that exceed 2TB, the device must be initialized with GUID Partition Table (GPT). This scheme supports addressing of the full range of storage capacity. If the user intends to start the computer from one of these large disks, the system's base firmware interface must use UEFI instead of BIOS.

3. Shrink your volume in Disk Managment

The actual data stored in a volume of more than 2TB may not be that large. You can try shrinking the volume in Disk Management to make it smaller than 2T, so that it doesn't break the limit and can run normally.

4. Create a partial volume backup instead of full

In Windows Server 2008, you are only allowed to select volumes smaller than 2TB into the backup. But you still can use “Custom” backup configuration to include files or folders equal or larger than 2TB.

5. Use wbadmin rather than WSB to backup files or folders larger than 2TB

This idea is similar to previous one and used to backup larger amount of files and folders in the large volume.

6. Use a third-party backup software

Usually, third-party tool is much easier and allows you to backup volume large data with less obstacle.

Continue to see below and I’ll introduce you the last two ways in details.

Back up volume larger than 2TB with Wbadmin 

To backup volume larger than 2TB using wbadmin:

Step 1. Right-click “Start” and select “Command Prompt (Admin)”.

Step 2. Type the following commands and hit “Enter” to execute. Assuming that the over 2TB volume to be backed up is F: drive and you want to backup it to an external hard drive with a drive letter G.

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:G: -include:f:\download -quiet

and then,

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:G: -include:f:\* -exclude:download -quiet

Note: the “-quiet” switch means to run the backup without being prompted.

Backup Windows volume over 2TB with AOMEI Backupper Server

For the best server backup and restore software, AOMEI Backupper Server is worth to mention. Below are reasons why I said this:

  • First, this software does not have the 2TB backup limit and comes with many useful features, such as, daily incremental backup, email notification, backup scheme, etc.

  • By default, it backup only used sectors on the source volume, and therefore give you better backup and restore speed. You can also choose different compression level to save space.

  • It supports various file systems including NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and storages like internal/external drive, USB, share, NAS, Cloud.

  • It allows you to select system, disks, partitions, files and folders to backup instead of full volumes. And it brings you the ability to create multiple schedule backup rather than one.

  • Last but not the least, it has an intuitive interface, which make users can understand this software easily.

To backup Windows Volume over 2TB, use the following steps:

Step 1. Download, install and open the server backup program.

Download Free Trial Server 2008/2012/2016/2019/2022
Secure Download

Step 2. Click “Backup” and “System Backup” subsequently. Also, you can choose to create file backup, disk backup, partition backup, or file sync.  

System Backup

Step 3. Click the inverted triangle and select a backup destination larger than 2TB. Any locations that is available in File explorer can be set as the destination location.

In this software, the system partition and boot related partition is selected by default. Because some user may ignore the hidden partition which is required to boot Window and your system will fail to boot finally.

Select Backup Destination

Step 4. Click the “Schedule” and set settings as you like. To set backup methods or delete old backups, click "Backup Scheme" at the lower location. Then, click “Start Backup” to get backup started.

  • Daily/weekly/monthly: These backup settings help you backup your system regularly, including the latest upates, newly installed apps, modified files etc.

  • Wake the computer to run scheduled tasks:  This feature helps you wake up your computer from sleep and then perform schedule backup during off-peak hour.

  • Event triggers: To backup system without any interference, you could use "System Shutdown" in event trigger backup.

Schedule Settings Advanced

Tip: To backup volume larger than 2TB, you need to minimize the space occupied by your backup. Because more and more backups, less and less space. To get rid of this problem, you could use “Normal” or “High” compression level, incremental and differential backup and backup scheme.  

Final Thoughts

Now you have a system backup in hand. With it, you can restore computer, even with dissimilar hardware.

By the way, if you have multiple PCs and servers, your better choice is AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus. Because it offers unlimited billable technical services to clients and also enables you to copy installation directory for portable version creation.