Configure Automatic Backups

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

You can protect your computer running Windows Server 2008 and its data automatically by scheduling daily backups. To configure scheduled backups, you will need to:

  • Install Windows Server Backup. For instructions, see Installing Windows Server Backup Tools.

  • Identify a hard disk that you can dedicate for storing your backups, and make sure that the disk is attached and online. As a best practice, use an external hard disk that supports either USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394 to the server. The disk should have at least 2.5 times the storage capacity of the set of items that you want to back up. The disk should either be empty or contain data that you do not need to keep because Windows Server Backup will format this disk as part of preparing it for the backup.

  • Decide whether to back up the full server or only certain volumes.

  • Decide whether to run backups once a day or more often.

  • After the backups start running, monitor the status using the Messages, Status, and Scheduled Backup sections of the snap-in default page.


You can also use the Wbadmin enable backup command to configure scheduled backups. For examples and syntax for this command, see
You cannot use Windows Server Backup to back up volumes that are more than 2043 GB.

To create a backup schedule using the Windows Server Backup user interface

  1. Click Start, click Administrative Tools, and then click Windows Server Backup.

  2. In the Actions pane of the snap-in default page, under Windows Server Backup, click Backup Schedule. This opens the Backup Schedule Wizard.

  3. On the Getting started page, click Next.

  4. On the Select backup configuration page, do one of the following, and then click Next:

    • Click Full Server to back up all volumes on the server. This is the recommended option.

    • Click Custom to back up just certain volumes, and then click Next. On the Select backup items page, select the check boxes for the volumes that you want to back up and clear the check boxes for the volumes that you want to exclude.


Volumes that contain operating system components are included in the backup by default and cannot be excluded.

  1. On the Specify backup time page, do one of the following, and then click Next:

    • Click Once a day, and then enter the time to start running the daily backup.

    • Click More than once a day. Then, to select a start time, under Available time, click the time that you want the backup to start, and then click Add to move the time under Scheduled time. Repeat for each start time that you want to add.

  2. On the Select destination disk page, select the check box for the disk that you attached for this purpose, and then click Next.


By default, the likely disk or disks are shown in the list. These disks are external disks that can be used for moving backups offsite for disaster protection. If the disk that you want to use is not listed, click Show All Available Disks. Then select the check box next to the disk that you want to use to store the backups.

  1. A message informs you that the selected disk will be formatted and any existing data will be deleted. Click Yes.


Do not click Yes if you have data on the disk that you need. To use a different disk, click No, and then select a different disk under Available disks.


This disk will no longer be visible in Windows Explorer—to prevent data from accidentally being stored on the drive and then overwritten, and to prevent accidental loss of backups.

  1. On the Label destination disk page, the disk that you selected is listed. A label that includes your computer name, the current date, the current time, and a disk name is assigned to the disk. Click Next.


We recommend that you record and then physically attach the label information to the external disk. If you need to recover data from the backup stored on the disk, you will need this information to identify the disk.

  1. On the Confirmation page, review the details, and then click Finish. The wizard formats the disk, which may take several minutes depending on the size of the disk.

  2. On the Summary page, click Close.

Additional considerations

  • To configure a scheduled backup, you must be a member of the Administrators group, or you must have been delegated the appropriate authority. As a security best practice, consider using Run as to perform this procedure.

  • You can use multiple external disks to store the data, and rotate them between onsite and offsite storage locations. For instructions, see Use Multiple Disks to Store Backups.

  • If you want to create a schedule for backups, but do not want to run them every day or want to run them only on specific days of the week or month, you can use Task Scheduler and the Wbadmin start backup command to run a series of backups. You can also use these tools to perform periodic system state backups. For more information, see Perform a Manual Backup.

Additional references