Windows Server Backup Step-by-Step Guide for Windows Server 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008


Windows Server Backup is enhanced in Windows Server 2012. Explore the Evaluation Guide and download the Windows Server 2012 Trial.

The Windows Server Backup feature provides a basic backup and recovery solution for computers running the Windows Server® 2008 operating system. Windows Server Backup introduces new backup and recovery technology and replaces the previous Windows Backup (Ntbackup.exe) feature that was available with earlier versions of the Windows operating system.

What is Windows Server Backup?

The Windows Server Backup feature in Windows Server 2008 consists of a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in and command-line tools that provide a complete solution for your day-to-day backup and recovery needs. You can use four wizards to guide you through running backups and recoveries. You can use Windows Server Backup to back up a full server (all volumes), selected volumes, or the system state. You can recover volumes, folders, files, certain applications, and the system state. And, in case of disasters like hard disk failures, you can perform a system recovery, which will restore your complete system onto the new hard disk, by using a full server backup and the Windows Recovery Environment.

You can use Windows Server Backup to create and manage backups for the local computer or a remote computer. You can also schedule backups to run automatically and you can perform one-time backups to augment the scheduled backups.


Windows Server Backup is available in all editions of Windows Server 2008 (both 32-bit and 64-bit versions). However, the Windows Server Backup snap-in is not available for the Server Core installation option of Windows Server 2008. To run backups for computers with a Server Core installation, you need to either use the command line or manage backups remotely from another computer. In addition, Windows PowerShell is not available for the Server Core installation option, so the cmdlets for Windows Server Backup are also not available on this type of installation.

What’s new in Windows Server Backup?

Windows Server Backup includes the following improvements:

  • Faster backup technology. Windows Server Backup uses Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and block-level backup technology to back up and recover your operating system, files and folders, and volumes. After the first full backup is created, you can configure Windows Server Backup to automatically run incremental backups by saving only the data that has changed since the last backup. Even if you choose to always perform full backups, your backup will take less time than it did in earlier versions of Windows.

  • Simplified restoration. You can restore items by choosing a backup and then selecting specific items from that backup to restore. You can recover specific files from a folder or all the contents of a folder. In addition, previously, you needed to manually restore from multiple backups if the item was stored on an incremental backup. But this is no longer true—you can now choose the date of the backup version for the item you want to restore.

  • Simplified recovery of your operating system. Windows Server Backup works with new Windows recovery tools to make it easier for you to recover your operating system. You can recover to the same server—or if the hardware fails, you can recover to a separate server that has similar hardware and no operating system.

  • Ability to recover applications. Windows Server Backup uses VSS functionality that is built into applications like Microsoft® SQL Server® to protect application data.

  • Improved scheduling. Windows Server Backup includes a wizard that guides you through the process of creating daily backups. System volumes are automatically included in all scheduled backups so that you are protected against disasters.

  • Offsite removal of backups for disaster protection. You can save backups to multiple disks in a rotation, which enables you to move disks from an offsite location. You can add each disk as a scheduled backup location and, if the first disk is moved offsite, Windows Server Backup will automatically save backups to the next disk in the rotation.

  • Remote administration. Windows Server Backup uses an MMC snap-in to give you a familiar and consistent experience for managing your backups. After you install the snap-in, you can access this tool through Server Manager or by adding the snap-in to a new or existing MMC console. Then, you can manage backups on other servers by clicking the Action menu in the snap-in, and then clicking Connect to Another Computer.

  • Automatic disk usage management. After you configure a disk for a scheduled backup, Windows Server Backup automatically manages the disk usage—you do not need to be concerned about running out of disk space after repeated backups. Windows Server Backup will automatically reuse the space of older backups when creating new backups. The management tool displays the backups that are available and the disk usage information. This can help you plan for provisioning additional storage to meet your recovery objectives.

  • Extensive command-line support. Windows Server Backup includes the wbadmin command and documentation, which enable you to perform all of the same tasks at the command line that you can perform by using the snap-in. For more information, see the Command Reference ( You can also automate backup activities through scripting.

    In addition, Windows Server 2008 contains a collection of Windows PowerShell™ commands (cmdlets) for Windows Server Backup that you can use to write scripts to perform backups. For more information, see

  • Support for optical media drives and removable media. You can manually back up volumes directly to optical media drives, such as DVD drives, and also to removable media. This offers a solution if you want to create backups that can easily be moved offsite on a one-time basis. This version of Windows Server Backup retains support for manual backups to shared folders and hard disks.

Who should use Windows Server Backup?

Windows Server Backup is intended for use by everyone who needs a basic backup solution—from small business owners to IT professionals in large enterprises. However, the design makes it especially well-suited for smaller organizations or individuals who are not IT professionals.

Special considerations

You must be a member of the Administrators group or Backup Operators group to use Windows Server Backup.

In Windows Server 2008, the firewall has been enabled by default. If you are managing the backups of another computer using the Windows Server Backup snap-in, your connectivity to the remote computer may be affected and can be resolved by changes in the firewall rules. While working on the local computer, you are not affected.

Also, if you are a current user of the previous backup feature (Ntbackup.exe) that shipped in earlier versions of Windows, and plan to switch to the new Windows Server Backup, you might be affected by the following issues and changes:

  • Settings for creating backups will not be upgraded when you upgrade to Windows Server 2008. You will need to reconfigure settings.

  • You will need a separate, dedicated disk for running scheduled backups.

  • Only NTFS-formatted volumes on a locally attached disk can be backed up.

  • You can no longer back up to tape. (However, support of tape storage drivers is still included in Windows Server 2008.) Windows Server Backup supports backing up to external and internal disks, DVDs, and shared folders.

    You cannot recover backups that you created with Ntbackup.exe by using Windows Server Backup. However, a version of Ntbackup.exe is available as a download to Windows Server 2008 for users who want to recover data from backups created using Ntbackup.exe. The downloadable version of Ntbackup.exe is only for recovering backups for older versions of Windows and cannot be used to create new backups in Windows Server 2008. To download Ntbackup.exe, see

How to install Windows Server Backup

To access backup and recovery tools for Windows Server 2008, you must install the Windows Server Backup, Command-line Tools, and Windows PowerShell items that are available in the Add Features Wizard in Server Manager. This installs the following tools:

  • Windows Server Backup Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in

  • Wbadmin command-line tool

  • Windows Server Backup cmdlets (Windows PowerShell commands)


To install Windows Server Backup features in Server Manager, you must be a member of the Backup Operators or Administrators group. You can also access Windows Server Backup from Server Manager, under the Storage node.

To install backup and recovery tools

  1. Click Start, click Server Manager, in the left pane click Features, and then in the right pane click Add Features. This opens the Add Features Wizard.

  2. In the Add Features Wizard, on the Select Features page, expand Windows Server Backup Features, and then select the check boxes for Windows Server Backup and Command-line Tools.

    You will receive a message that Windows PowerShell is also required to be installed with these features.


If you just want to install the snap-in and the Wbadmin command-line tool, expand Windows Server Backup Features, and then select the Windows Server Backup check box. In this case, Windows PowerShell is not required.

  1. Click Add Required Features, and then click Next.

  2. On the Confirm Installation Selections page, review the choices that you made, and then click Install. If there is an error during the installation, it will be noted on the Installation Results page.

  3. Then, to access these backup and recovery tools, do the following:

    • To access the Windows Server Backup snap-in, click Start, click Administrative Tools, and then click Windows Server Backup.

    • To access and view the syntax for Wbadmin, click Start, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. At the prompt, type: wbadmin /?

    • For instructions to access and view the Help for the Windows Server Backup cmdlets, see GettingStarted.rtf at: <systemdrive>:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\Documents\<language>.

Step-by-step instructions

Use the following links for key backup and recovery tasks: