AD Forest Recovery - Backing up a full server

Applies to: Windows Server 2022, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2

A full server backup is recommended to prepare for a forest recovery because it can be restored to different hardware or a different operating system instance. Using Windows Server Backup you can perform a full backup of your server.

Windows Server Backup

Windows Server Backup is not installed by default. In Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2012 R2, install it by following the steps below.


Please be aware that the steps may vary slightly between Windows Server 2016 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

For steps to install it in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, see Installing Windows Server Backup.

To install Windows Server Backup

  1. Open Server Manager and click Add roles and features.
  2. On the Add Roles and Features Wizard click Next.
  3. On the Installation Type screen, leave the default Role-based or feature-based installation and click Next.
  4. On the Server Selection screen, click Next.
  5. On the Server Roles screen click Next.
  6. On the Features screen, select Windows Server Backup and click Next Screenshot that highlights the selected Windows Server Backup option.
  7. Click Install.
  8. Once the installation is complete, click Close.

To perform a backup with Windows Server Backup

  1. Open Server Manager, click Tools, and then click Windows Server Backup.

    • In Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008, click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Windows Server Backup.

    Screenshot that shows where to point to Administrative Tools and then select Windows Server Backup.

  2. If you are prompted, in the User Account Control dialog box, provide Backup Operator credentials, and then click OK.

  3. Click Local Backup.

  4. On the Action menu, click Backup once.

  5. In the Backup Once Wizard, on the Backup options page, click Different options, and then click Next.

    Screenshot that shows the Different Options option selected.

  6. On the Select backup configuration page, click Full server (recommended), and then click Next.

  7. On the Specify destination type page, click Local drives or Remote shared folder, and then click Next.

  8. On the Select Backup Destination page, choose the backup location. If you selected local drive choose a local drive or if you selected remote share choose a network share.

  9. On the confirmation screen, click Backup.

    Screenshot that shows the Backup Progress screen.

  10. Once this has completed click Close.

  11. Close Windows Server Backup.


If you get an error stating that no backup storage location is available, you will need to either exclude one of the volumes that has been selected or add a new volume or remote share. If you get a warning stating that the selected volume is also included in the list of items to backup, determine whether or not to remove and click Ok.

Using Wbadmin.exe to backup a windows server

Wbadmin.exe is a command-line utility that enables you to back up and restore your operating system, volumes, files, folders, and applications from a command prompt.

To perform a full server backup using Wbadmin.exe

  • Open an elevated command prompt, type the following command and press ENTER:

    wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:<Drive_letter_to store_backup>: -include:<Drive_letter_to_include>:

    Install Backup

Next Steps