Performing a backup of Windows Server is an essential part of the day to day Windows Server management. Backups allow you to recover from disaster scenarios where data is lost. This could be a result of any number of events such as accidental or intentional file deletion, ransomware, or physical server hardware failure resulting in data corruption. Whatever the case, your data is the most important component in your infrastructure.

Microsoft has included Windows Server Backup as an installable feature in Windows Server for quite some time now. Even in Windows Server 2019, this feature is still available for installation.

In this post, we will take a look at Windows Server Backup Installation Features and Limitations to see how you can use Windows Server Backup to back up a Windows Server. We will then look at a more powerful solution to backup Windows Server for free.

Installing Windows Server Backup

How do you “install” Windows Server Backup in Windows Server 2019?

Windows Server Backup is a feature that is installable in Windows. Launch the Add Roles and Features Wizard in Server Manager, “next” to the Features section and choose Windows Server Backup. Click Next.

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Add Roles and Features Wizard – installing the Windows Server Backup feature


Ready to install the Windows Server Backup feature

Feature installation is successful. Click Close.


Installation of Windows Server Backup is successful

Now, the Windows Server Backup feature is installed. We can start performing ad-hoc backups or create scheduled backups.

Launch the Windows Server Backup utility by typing wbadmin.msc in a run or search menu.


Launching the WBADMIN.MSC utility to backup or schedule backups of Windows Server 2019

Let’s schedule a backup of Windows Server 2019.


Backup Schedule Wizard – Getting Started

Select the backup configuration of the Windows Server. The options are:

  • Full server – backup all server data, applications, and system state
  • Custom – You want to choose to backup custom volumes or files for backup


Select the backup configuration of the Windows Server

A note here, if you do select the Custom option, you can also specify VSS options. You can select either VSS full backup or VSS copy Backup options using the Custom option.


Advanced Settings allow specifying the VSS options

On the Specify Backup Time screen, you choose how often and when you want to run the backup.


Specify Backup Time

I don’t really like the description of the next screen of the wizard. Instead of Destination Type this should be Destination Location or something similar. On this screen, you are specifying the target for the backup files. Here, I am selecting the Back up to a shared network folder.


Specify Destination Type

A warning or notice appears when you select “Back up to a shared network folder”. The warning states that when you use a remote shared folder, each backup run will erase the previous backup, and only the latest backup will be available.


Windows Server Backup warning about network location

Specify the remote shared folder via a UNC path for storing the backup file.


Specify the remote shared folder

You will be prompted to enter credentials to schedule the backup and register the schedule in Windows Server.


Credentials to register the Windows Server Backup schedule

Confirm the Backup Schedule.


Confirming the backup schedule

On the Summary screen, click Close.


Finalizing the backup schedule on the Summary screen

Windows Server Backup Limitation to Consider

While the Windows Server Backup is a good basic option when compared to no backups at all, it falls very short when thinking about today’s highly virtualized environments.

If you are running Windows Server Backup in a Windows Server that is virtualized, it is totally unaware of the VM that it is running inside of. This means, your VM hardware settings, configuration, and all other virtual hardware specific settings will not be captured inside the backup.

There were improvements introduced in Windows Server 2012 that now allows Windows Server Backup to backup or restore an individual VM from a Hyper-V host, as VMs will be backed up or restored as part of a full server or Hyper-V host volume backup. In Windows Server 2012, Hyper-V is treated as an application that can be backed up and restored. This allows individual virtual machines to be backed up and restored. However, the backup and restore options are fairly basic with only full restores being possible and only with Hyper-V and not VMware or another hypervisor.

This can be a critical detail as you would have to manually create and remember all the VM specific settings configured on the virtual machine in the case of a VMware virtual machine being protected with WSB. In a disaster scenario, the last thing you want to be doing is trying to remember the settings configured on a VM just to recreate it, restore the data, and bring the VM back up to a functioning state.

Additionally, as shown in the screenshot, there are limitations when it comes to storing backups in a network location when it comes to Windows Server Backup. You can only store one backup which is not going to be ideal for most environments. Additionally, even though you have VSS options, these are basic and you don’t have the ability to configure granular VSS settings, usernames passwords, etc. There are no log truncation options among others.

Is there a better free option, especially for those who are running inside of virtual environments as well as more powerful options for Windows Server backups?

Vembu BDR Suite – Free VMware, Hyper-V, and Windows Server Backups

While Windows Server Backup is a viable backup solution, it is not the most powerful free backup solution that can be utilized.

Vembu provides Free VMware, Hyper-V, and Windows Server backups that allow having unlimited backups with enterprise backup features. Features include:

  • Agentless backups
  • Application-aware image backups
  • Flexible Scheduling & Retention Policies
  • Cross-Platform migration capabilities
  • Quick VM Recovery
  • Instant File-Level Recovery
  • Application item restore via Vembu Universal Explorer
  • Scale-out backup repositories
  • Many other options

How Does Vembu BDR Suite Free Licensing Work?

Vembu BDR Suite can be installed as a 30-day fully-featured trial, with no restrictions on functionality.

After the trial period, you can license Vembu BDR Suite in Standard or Enterprise Edition, or you can choose to continue running the software as a Free Edition. Check out Vembu BDR Suite Free vs Paid Edition comparison here.

Vembu BDR Suite Free Edition suits for both Virtual & Physical environment.

  1. For Virtual environment there are two options:
    • Backup unlimited number of VMs with limited features
    • Backup limited number of VMs (upto 3) with standard edition features
  2. For Physical environment – Backup any number of Windows Servers/Workstations

With Vembu Free Backup Solutions, you get a solution that trounces on the built-in Windows Server Backup solution with many more features and capabilities included for free.

To understand how Vembu BDR Suite can help you achieve your data protection goals, talk to our experts. Click here to schedule your session.

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Windows Server Backup: Installation, Features and Limitations
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