How to Perform a Windows Server Backup?

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By Vinay Khatri

Are you a regular computer user, or are you a system administrator? If you are a regular user, you are likely to be unaware of Windows Server and its applications. Even if you have heard about Windows Server, you may not be well aware of what it is and what it does. However, it’s alright because a regular user typically doesn’t require Windows Server at all. It is meant for business entities to accomplish a certain set of tasks.

On the other hand, if you are a system administrator, you must have wondered “how to perform a windows server backup?” This article is meant for both regular users who just want to know about this exciting release from Microsoft and system administrators who want to take a backup of their windows server.

Why is a Server Backup Necessary?

A server backup and recovery is a measure against the data loss that may cause an organization to lose important business data. A backup is a copy of the original data, which is usually stored in a separate system, device, or tape that can be used for data restoration.

Backup is necessary because:

  • In case of primary data failure, i.e., hardware or software failure, data corruption, etc., it can be used to restore the data.
  • The backup restored in remote locations may help in case of physical damage.
  • It helps in data migration when you change your systems or move to a new server from an old one.
  • As it is about the server, you are storing data of several other users as well. Server backup helps you ensure the safety of all the important data.

What is a Windows Server?

You may be well aware of Microsoft’s regular OS releases like Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10, etc. However, these versions of Windows are best suitable for a regular user. But for a business setting, working on separate OS makes the process complicated. That’s why, Microsoft rolled out Windows server, a line of operating systems, specifically created for using on a server, in 2003.

Well, in a business setting, a server needs to perform various functions to help other workstations. A regular OS is not compatible with such administrative workloads. Thus, Microsoft released a separate line of operating systems with the purpose of making the work process easier in large organizations.

In case you are wondering how the UI looks like, well, it completely looks like a regular Windows OS; including the start button, taskbar, icons, etc., on the desktop. It may also have some resemblance with the function of a regular OS, but a server is a server and you can’t nullify the utility it offers.

Yes, a server allows you to store files in a centralized location, manage all your printers around the organization with a single operation, active directory that manages user authentication, update services, etc.

Now, you have a fair idea about what a Windows Server is. It’s time to get the answer to the real question, i.e. How to perform a Windows Server backup?

There are different versions of Windows Server in the market. In this article, we have covered the popular versions of Windows Server and discussed the steps essential for creating a server backup.

How To Backup Your Windows Server 2008?

These are the simple steps that allow you to backup your Windows Server:

  1. First of all, open Server Manager.
  2. On the left menu, you will see an option named “Features”. Open it.
  3. Go to “Add Features” and then open “Select features”.
  4. There will be an option “Windows Server backup features”, expand it.
  5. Click on “Windows Server Backup” and initialize your installation by clicking on the “Install” button.

Now that the backup feature has been installed, you must use it using the following steps:

  1. Go to “Server Manager”.
  2. The backup utility file must be available here, launch it.
  3. Click on “Create New Backup”.
  4. The system will guide you through a set of instructions. Just follow them, and you will be able to create the server backup.
  5. Congratulations, you have successfully backed up your Windows Server.

These steps are exclusive to Windows Server 2008. Now let’s talk about the other versions.

How to Backup Your Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019?

First of all, you need to install the backup utility with the following steps-

  1. Open the “Server Manager”.
  2. You can see a menu on the right-hand side screen. Select the “Manage” option and then click on “Add roles and functionalities”.
  3. Click on Install based on the role of functionality.
  4. As you click Next, it will ask you the server to which you want your utility to be installed. Select the desired option, and click “Next”.
  5. A list will appear. Select “Windows server backup” and then click “Next”.
  6. You will see an option and a checkbox against it saying “Automatically restart the destination server if necessary,” then click on “Yes” and start the installation process.

Now that the backup utility has been installed, it is time to create a backup.

  1. Go to “Tools” in the Server Manager and click on “Windows Server Backup”.
  2. Now go to the “Local Backup”. Here you will see options like “Backup Once,” “Backup Schedule,” “Recover,” etc.
  3. If you want to configure an automatic backup, you need to choose Backup Schedule. Here, let’s go with the option “Backup Once”.
  4. Now that you have selected the “Backup Once” option, you need to choose the “Different Options” option in the “Backup options”. Then click “Next”.
  5. The next screen will show “Backup Configuration”. It has two options – “Full Server” and “Custom”.
  6. If you want to backup your entire data, select “Full Server”. If you want to backup selected files or volumes, choose “Custom”.
  7. Next, it will ask you the storage location. You can choose one on your system or a “Remote Shared Folder”.
  8. Now the system will show you what you have chosen, what will be backed up and where it will be stored, etc., i.e., a confirmation page.
  9. Read it and then click on “Backup”.
  10. It will take a few minutes. Once done, you can check the location and confirm the backup installation.

If you do not want a full server backup, you can also choose the “Custom” option. If you choose this and click next, an additional screen will appear where you will be asked the items you want to backup. You need to click on “Add Items” to select the items for your backup and then move ahead as specified above.

How To Schedule An Automatic Backup?

If you rely on creating backups manually, there is a possibility that you may forget to create a backup when it needed to be. To avoid being in such a situation, the automatic backup feature will come in handy. It will automatically create a backup at a time when the server is being used the least:

So, let’s see how to set up an automatic backup:

  1. Go to “Server Manager”, click on “Tools”.
  2. Now select Windows Server backup from the list.
  3. In the local backup, choose “Backup Schedule” from the given actions.
  4. Click on Next, and you will arrive at the backup configuration page. Choose “Full Server” or “Custom” as per your needs.
  5. After clicking Next, you will be asked how often you want to create a backup. Choose your desired frequency, like once a day or more than once a day.
  6. Click next, select your storage destination, and you will arrive on the “Confirmation” page.
  7. Check the details of the backup and click Next.
  8. Backup scheduled successfully. Now you don’t need to worry about creating server backup as the system will do it automatically.

Between the two options – manual and automatic backup, which one do you think is better? Of course, it is the automatic backup. But if you need more reasons to schedule an automatic backup of your server, here are some:

  1. The system performs the function automatically so that you can focus on other important tasks.
  2. Where a large amount of data is involved, it can be difficult to create a backup manually on a daily basis as it is very time-consuming. Automating the task of server backup will save you from a lot of hassle.
  3. A backup report generated can be very helpful in maintaining transparency and informing the task force regarding the files and systems that have been backed up and which data has been altered.
  4. Automated backups also take care of the security of the data by encrypting it, which is not possible in the manual backup.

Choosing A Backup Approach

If you are a part of a large organization, you may be well aware of the substantial amount of data that the business’s servers handle. Thus, it is important to manage the storage space and other settings effectively to provide seamless access to the users. Thus, you need to optimize your backup performance and specify the kind of backup approach for your Windows Server.

First, you must understand the two popular approaches to data backup.

Full Backup – In this kind of backup, every time, your entire data will be backed up even though it was only backed up a few hours ago. It is very time-consuming, but smaller organizations may choose it paired with the “once in a day” option.

Incremental Backup – It is ideal for large organizations where the amount of data involved is voluminous and may take several hours to back up every time. It backups the data from its last backup to the present. Thus, it helps to save a lot of time and storage space.

Now, let’s configure it in the Windows Server backup. It can be done in the following steps.

  1. Go to “Windows Server backup”.
  2. Go to the Actions pane, select Configure Performance Settings. Click on “Optimize backup Performance”.
  3. There are three options. You can choose “Normal Backup Performance” for a regular full backup. For an incremental backup, you must choose “Faster Backup Performance”.

Note: A regular full backup requires more time and may slow down servers, while an incremental backup only traces the changes made between the last backup and now, which is completed in a short amount of time.

  1. For “Custom” backup, you have to choose each item and the type of backup you want to take.
  2. That’s it. You are done.

When you are taking a backup, there are certain small things you need to take care of. One of them is choosing the destination where the backups will be created and stored.

Where Should You Store Your Backup?

After you schedule the frequency of your automatic backup or choose whether you need a full server backup or custom backup in the “Backup Once” option, the window that opens up is” Specify Destination Type”. Here you will see three options, namely, save to local hard disk, save to volumes, and save to a folder on the network.

Now, you need to understand what each of these options means:

Save to Local Hard Disk– The backup will be stored on a hard disk. You may need to shift any existing data on the hard disk to some other storage device before choosing it as the server backup location. In case your hardware fails or the hard disk crashes, the data is also gone unless you have another backup stored elsewhere. Here you are recommended to use external hard disks.

Save to Volumes- In this option, you choose to save your data on the local disk, i.e., on the server itself. In case of a large backup, it may slow down your server.

Save to a Shared Backup Folder on the Network- Here, you can only save one copy of your backup, but you can also specify who has the right to access it. If you want to save your data on a remote location that can be accessed from anywhere, this is the option you need to choose.


This article gives you an overview of Windows Server and answers the question – How to perform a Windows Server backup? The process for creating a Windows server backup has been discussed for all the popular versions of Windows Server OS. Hopefully, this article has helped you become familiar with a variety of aspects related to Windows server backup.

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