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Backing Up Your Server

Applies To: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012

You can use Windows Server Backup to protect your operating system, system state, volumes, files, and application data. Backups can be saved to single or multiple disks, single or multiple volumes, DVDs, removable media, or remote shared folders. They can be scheduled to run automatically or manually.

You can create a backup using the Backup Schedule Wizard to enable backups to be run on a regular schedule or using the Backup Once Wizard to run a one-time backup. You can access both of these wizards from the Windows Server Backup Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in. You can also create regular or one-time backups using the Wbadmin command or Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Windows Server Backup.

Windows Server Backup creates complete backups that allow you to perform recoveries of your computer without needing to reference another backup. However, these backups are optimized to behave like incremental backups, to increase backup performance and save space. In addition, if you use a disk or volume to store backups, Windows Server Backup automatically deletes older backups as a storage location becomes full. For more information about incremental and full backups, see Optimizing Backup and Server Performance.

When you create a backup and save it to a storage location, the backup that you create will be saved in a folder WindowsImageBackup \< ComputerBackedUp >. In addition to the backup, this folder includes catalog files that contain information about all backups on that location up to the current backup, and a file, MediaId , that contains the identifier for the backup storage location. This information is required to perform a recovery.

For instructions specific to backing up Active Directory Domain Services, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=143748.

This section contains instructions to help you do the following:

Choosing what to back up

As part of creating a backup, you will need to specify the files, folders, or volumes that you want to include. The items that you select to back up will impact what you can recover.

noteNote
You cannot use Windows Server Backup to back up file and folders on volumes that require more than 2040 GB (or 2 TB). However, as long as the data size is less than 2 TB, you can perform a file or folder backup. For example, you can back up 1.5 TB of data from a 3-TB volume. But, a full server or volume recovery using the backup will recreate a 2-TB volume instead of a 3-TB volume.

You have the following options:

 

Items in backup Resulting recovery options

Full server (all volumes)

Back up all volumes if you want to be able to recover the full server. You can use a full server backup to perform all types of recoveries, including system state and bare metal recoveries. We recommend this option.

Critical volumes/Bare metal recovery

Choose to create a backup for bare metal recovery if you want to back up the items needed to recover the operating system (critical volumes only). This option is a subset of a full server backup.

System state

Choose to back up the system state if you want to back up the items needed to perform a system state recovery. This option is a subset of a full server backup.

Individual volumes

Back up just individual volumes if you only want to be able to recover files, applications, or data from those volumes.

Folders or files

Back up just individual folders or files if you only want to be able to recover those items.

Choosing a storage location

You will also need to specify a location to store the backups that you create. The type of storage location that you choose will impact what you can recover.

noteNote
  • The size of the location to store backups should be at least 1.5 times the backup size to enable you to store a couple of backup versions.

  • You cannot use tape drives as a backup storage location for Windows Server Backup. However, support of tape storage drivers is still included in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

  • You cannot store backups on disks that are formatted FAT32—the disks should be formatted NTFS because Windows Server Backup uses shadow copies to maintain backup versions. You can use the Format command to reformat the disk or the Convert command to change the format. For syntax for Convert , see the Command Reference (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=143749).

  • You cannot store backups on USB flash drives or pen drives.

 

Storage type Details

Remote shared folder

You can store both one-time (ad hoc) backups and scheduled backups on remote shared folders. (The capability to store scheduled backups on remote shared folders is new for Windows Server 2008 R2.) Then, you can use backups stored on remote shared folders to recover files, folders, system state, applications, and full volumes—or to perform bare metal recoveries.

If you store your backup in a remote shared folder, your backup will be overwritten each time you create a new backup. Do not choose this option if you want to store multiple backups.

Also, if you create a backup to a shared folder that already contains a backup, if the backup process fails, you might be left without any backups.

DVD, other optical media, or removable media

You can store only one-time backups (not scheduled backups) on optical or removable media. Then, you can use backups stored on optical or removable media to perform full volume or bare metal recoveries. You cannot recover applications, individual files, or the system state from backups stored on optical or removable media.

New in Windows Server 2008 R2, if the free space on the media is greater than 1 GB, removable media is formatted as NTFS, and optical media is formatted as Universal Disk Format (UDF), then the media will not be reformatted before backups are saved to the media—so that the media can be used to store other data. In Windows Server 2008, DVDs and removable media are always formatted before backups are stored on them.

Backups stored on DVDs will be compressed and will occupy less space than backups saved to hard disks.

Internal hard disk

You can store both one-time and scheduled backups on an NTFS-formatted disk or a GUID partition table (GPT)–formatted disk. However, if you store scheduled backups on an internal disk, you have the option of dedicating that disk for storage. Then, the disk you choose will be dedicated for storing your scheduled backups and will not be visible in Windows Explorer.

You can use the backups stored on internal disks to:

  • Recover files, folders, applications, and volumes.

  • Perform operating system (bare metal) recoveries if the backup used contains all the critical volumes.

  • Perform system state recoveries if the backup used contains the system state.

However, you cannot perform a full system or bare metal recovery if the backup is on the same physical disk as one or more critical volumes. You can perform system state recoveries and also recoveries of volumes (where no partitioning is done).

Finally, if you use a volume to store backups, and you store other data on that volume as well, write operation performance may decrease on the volume (read operations are not affected). We recommend that you do not store other data on the volume with your backups.

External hard disk

If you store your backup on an NTFS-formatted or GPT-formatted external hard disk, you can:

  • Recover files, folders, applications, and volumes.

  • Perform system state and operating system (bare metal) recoveries if the backup used contains the needed items.

  • Move backups offsite for disaster protection more easily.

However, as with internal disks, you have the option of dedicating the disk for storage so that it will not appear in Windows Explorer. And, if you use a volume to store backups, and you store other data on that volume as well, I/O performance may decrease on the volume. We recommend that you do not store other data on the volume with your backups.

ImportantImportant
  • If you are using a virtual hard disk to store backups and if the virtual hard disk is on a physical disk that contains system volumes or critical volumes, there may be limitations to what you can recover. In addition, virtual volume files will be excluded from the backup if the virtual volumes are online. For more information about working with virtual hard disks, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=143712.

  • If you are using a dynamic disk instead of a basic disk to store backups, you will not be able to perform bare metal recoveries with backups stored on the dynamic disk. However, you will be able to perform other types of recoveries. For more information about using dynamic disks, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=143750.

  • If you are using BitLocker Drive Encryption to protect your server, if possible, make sure that the storage location you choose is also protected with BitLocker Drive Encryption. This will not happen automatically—it must be enabled explicitly. For instructions, see the Windows BitLocker Drive Encryption Step-by-Step Guide (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=143722).

Additional considerations

  • To use Windows Server Backup, you must be a member of the Backup Operators or Administrators group, or you must have been delegated the appropriate authority.

Additional references

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