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Manage Server Backup in Windows Server Essentials


Updated: March 26, 2014

Applies To: Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

This topic applies to a server running Windows Server 2012 Essentials or Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, or to a server running Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed.

The following topics include information about common backup tasks that you can accomplish by using the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard:

Choosing a backup can be straightforward if you have a very recent successful backup and you know that the backup contains all of your critical data. If you are trying to restore to the server or a computer from an older backup, choosing a good backup to restore to may require some investigation and, possibly, some compromise.

To choose a backup

  1. Check with the owner of the files or folders, and note the dates and times when they added or edited them. Use these dates and times as a starting point.

  2. On the Choose a restore option page in the Restore Files and Folders Wizard, click Restore from a backup that I select (advanced).

  3. Depending on whether you want to restore an older or newer version of the files or folders, select the backup that best fits the dates and times noted in step 1.

  4. As a best practice, you can restore files and folders to an alternate location, and then let the owner of the files and folders move the ones that they need to the original location. When they finish, the files and folders that remain in the alternate location can be deleted.

Server backup is not automatically configured during installation. You should protect your server and its data automatically by scheduling daily backups. It is recommended that you maintain a daily backup plan because most organizations cannot afford to lose the data that has been created over several days. For more information, see Set up or customize server backup.

Whether a server backup starts at a regularly scheduled time or you start a server backup manually, you can stop the backup in progress.

To stop a backup in progress

  1. Open the Dashboard.

  2. In the navigation bar, click Devices.

  3. In the list of computers, click the server, and then click Stop backup for the server in the Tasks pane.

  4. Click Yes to confirm your action.

When you are away from the office, you can use Windows Server Essentials Remote Web Access to access the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard to manage your server.

To use Remote Web Access to manage your server

  1. Open a web browser.

  2. In the address box, type the name of the Windows Server Essentials domain.

  3. When prompted, enter your user name and password.

  4. When you click the name of the server in Remote Web Access, the logon page for the Dashboard is displayed.

  5. Log on to the Dashboard as an administrator, and then click Devices.

For more information about Remote Web Access, see Remote Web Access overview.

You should protect your server and its data automatically by scheduling daily backups. It is recommended that you maintain a daily backup plan because most organizations cannot afford to lose the data that has been created over several days.

If you already have server backup configured, and later want to use a third-party application to back up the server, you can disable Windows Server Essentials server backup.

To disable server backup

  1. Log on to the Windows Server Essentials Dashboard using an administrator account and password.

  2. Click the Devices tab, and then click the name of the server.

  3. In the Tasks pane, click Customize Backup for the server.


    The Customize Backup for the server task is displayed after you have configured server backup using the Set Up Server Backup Wizard. For more information about setting up server backup, see Set up or customize server backup.

  4. The Customize Server Backup Wizard appears.

  5. On the Configuration Options page, click Disable Server Backup. Follow the instructions in the wizard.

Server backup is not enabled during server setup.


When you configure server backup, you should connect at least one external hard drive to the server to use as the backup destination hard drive.

Backup destination drive

You can use multiple external storage drives for backups, and you can rotate the drives between onsite and offsite storage locations. This can improve your disaster preparedness planning by helping you recover your data if physical damage occurs to the hardware onsite.

When choosing a storage drive for your server backup, consider the following:

  • Choose a drive that contains sufficient space to store your data. Your storage drives should contain at least 2.5 times the storage capacity of the data that you want to back up. The drives should also be large enough to accommodate the future growth of your server data.

  • If the backup destination drive contains offline drives, the backup configuration will not succeed. To complete the configuration, when selecting the backup destination, clear the check box to exclude drives that are offline.

  • If you choose a drive that contains previous backups as the backup destination, the wizard allows you choose if you want to keep the previous backups. If you keep the backups, the wizard does not format the drive.

  • When reusing an external storage drive, make sure that the drive is empty or contains only data that you do not need.

  • You should visit the website for your external storage drive manufacturer to ensure that your backup drive is supported on computers running Windows Server Essentials.


The Set Up Server Backup Wizard formats the storage drives when it configures them for backup.

Server backup schedule

You should protect your server and its data automatically by scheduling daily backups. It is recommended that you maintain a daily backup plan because most organizations cannot afford to lose the data that has been created over several days.

When you use the Windows Server Essentials Set Up Server Backup Wizard, you can choose to back up server data at multiple times during the day. Because the wizard schedules differential-based backups, Backup runs quickly, and server performance is not significantly impacted. By default, Set Up Server Backup schedules a backup to run daily at 12:00 PM and 11:00 PM. However, you can adjust the backup schedule according to the needs of your organization. You should occasionally evaluate the effectiveness of your backup plan, and change the plan as necessary.


In the default installation of Windows Server Essentials, the server is configured to automatically perform a defragmentation once each week. This can result in larger than normal backups if you use non-Microsoft imaging software. If it is not necessary to defragment the server on a regular basis, you can follow these steps to turn off the defragmentation schedule:

  1. Press the Windows key + W to open Search.

  2. In the Search text box, type Defragment.

  3. In the results section, click Defragment and Optimize Drives.

  4. In the Optimize Drives page, select a drive, and then click Change settings.

  5. In the Optimization schedule window, clear the Run on a schedule (recommended) check box, and then click OK to save the change.

Items to be backed up

By default, all operating system files and folders are selected for backup. You can choose to back up all the hard disks, files, and folders on the server, or select only individual hard disks, files, or folders to backup. To add or remove items for the backup, do one of the following:

  • To include a data drive in the server backup, select the adjacent check box.

  • To exclude a data drive from the server backup, clear the adjacent check box.


If you want to exclude the Operating System item from the backup, you must first clear the System Backup (recommended) check box.

To minimize the amount of backup hard disk space that your server backups use, you may want to exclude any folders that contain files that you don't consider valuable or particularly important.

For example, you may have a folder that contains recorded television programs that uses a lot of hard drive space. You may choose not to back up these files because you normally delete them after viewing them anyway. Alternatively, you may have a folder that contains temporary files that you do not intend to keep.

When an unformatted internal hard disk drive is detected on the Windows Server Essentials server, a health alert is raised that contains a link to the Add a New Hard Drive Wizard. The Add a New Hard Drive Wizard walks you through the various options for formatting the hard drive. When the wizard is finished, one or more, depending on the size of the drive, logical hard drives formatted will be created on the hard drive and formatted as NTFS.

If it becomes necessary to repartition a hard disk drive, follow these instructions:

To repartition a hard disk drive

  1. On the Start screen, click Administrative Tools, and then double-click Computer Management.

  2. In Computer Management, click Storage, and then double-click Disk Management.

  3. Right-click the drive that you want to repartition, click Delete Volume, and then click Yes.


    Repeat this step for each partition on the hard disk drive.

  4. Right-click the Unallocated hard disk drive, and then click New Simple Volume.

  5. In the New Simple Volume Wizard, create and format a volume that is 16 TB (16,000,000 MB) or less.


    Repeat this step until all unallocated space on the hard disk drive is used.

You can browse and restore individual files and folders from a server backup.

To restore files and folders from a server backup

  1. Open the Dashboard, and then click the Devices tab.

  2. Click the name of the server, and then click Restore files or folders for the server in the Tasks pane.

  3. The Restore Files or Folders Wizard opens. Follow the instructions in the wizard to restore the files or folders.

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