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Configuring and Managing Windows Server Backups

There is an old saying that nothing lasts forever, which means one should live it up, take chances, and never have any regrets. That might be sound advice in some situations, but it's not the approach you want to take when it comes to protecting your data.

If you've been administering servers for any length of time, you most likely have experienced or heard of someone who lost data due to one of the following:

  • Hardware failure
  • Software failure
  • Human Error
  • Computer virus
  • Theft
  • Natural disaster (flooding, earthquakes, severe weather, and so on)
  • Fire

When an organization loses data, the impact can range from a loss of productivity (employees having to recreate their data or wait for it to be restored) to a complete financial collapse of the company itself. In between these two extremes are costly downtimes that result from restoring or rebuilding your data, delayed responses to customer inquiries, and the overall negative perceptions your customers will have of your organization as a whole.

Unfortunately, most people and companies take backups seriously only after they've experienced the impact of losing their data. It's inevitable; it will happen sooner or later, and you must be prepared by implementing a backup strategy and executing it when the time comes.

Determining what needs to be backed up, the frequency and types of backups, as well as where they are stored (onsite/offsite/cloud) should all be part of your backup strategy. In addition to protecting your data, you must also consider the roles performed by the servers on the network. The role(s) assigned to a server (Active Directory Domain Services, DHCP Server, DNS Server, File and Storage Services, Application Server, Web Server, and so on) can dramatically change its configuration, what you back up, and the frequency the backup is performed.

You also need to consider the impact the backups will have on users as well as the ability to keep critical applications running. Users need to get their work done, so critical applications cannot be taken down in order for a backup to be performed. Fortunately, Windows Server utilizes the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) and shadow copies to create point-in-time snapshots allowing you to keep any downtime to a minimum.

To protect data on your servers, you might have some form of fault tolerance such as RAID or clustering in place. Although these solutions can protect you from single or multiple drive failures, they are not a substitute for performing backups. With these issues in mind, let's take a look at how to protect your data and servers using the tools provided by Windows Server 2012.

Installing the Windows Server Backup Feature

Windows Server Backup , wbadmin , and Windows PowerShell cmdlets provide the tools you need to back up and restore your critical data and servers.

To prepare for a server backup, you need to first install the Windows Server Backup feature. Once installed, you have access to the following tools:

  • Windows Server Backup Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in
  • wbadmin command-line tool (wbadmin.exe)
  • Windows PowerShell cmdlets for Windows Server Backup

The Windows Server Backup MMC snap-in is not installed on Windows Server 2012 systems running the Server Core installation option only. To run backups on these systems, you need to use either the command-line tool wbadmin or the Windows PowerShell cmdlets, or manage them remotely from another computer using the Windows Server Backup MMC. You can also use the Windows 8 Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT).

To install the Windows Server Backup feature on Server01, perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to Server01 and open Server Manager.
  2. Click Manage → Roles and Features.
  3. Click Next when the Add Roles and Features Wizard appears.
  4. Click Next on the Select installation type screen.
  5. Click Next on the Select destination server screen.
  6. Click Next on the Select server roles screen.
  7. Select Windows Server Backup and click Next.
  8. Select Restart the destination server automatically if required and click Yes to allow automatic restarts.
  9. Click Install and then click Close.

After the installation completes, you can launch the Windows Server Backup Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in by selecting Server Manager → Tools → Windows Server Backup.

To view the list of commands supported by the wbadmin command-line tool, open a command prompt while logged on with administrative rights and use the following command:

wbadmin /?

To view the Windows PowerShell cmdlets available for Windows Server Backup module, use the following command from within Windows PowerShell:

PS C:\ Get-Command -Module WindowsServerBackup -CommandType Cmdlet

Install Windows Server Backup Features on a Server Core Using Windows Powershell (Optional)

To install the Windows Server Backup features on a Server Core installation, perform the following steps:

  1. Log in to the Server Core installation.
  2. Enter the following command from within the command window that appears, and then press Enter to start a Windows PowerShell session:


  3. Enter the following command to make the Server Manager features available from within the Windows PowerShell session:

    PS C:\Import-Module Servermanager

  4. Enter the following command to add the Windows Server Backup feature:

    PS C:\Install-WindowsFeature Windows-Server-Backup

  5. Enter the following command to confirm the Windows Server Backup feature is installed:

    PS C:\Get-WindowsFeature | where {$_.Name -eq "Windows-Server-Backup"}

  6. Type Exit to end the Windows PowerShell session and return to the command window.
  7. Type wbadmin /? and confirm wbadmin tools are installed.