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 windows server 2008

Windows Server 2008 Backup to a Network Share

With the installation of Windows Server 2008 comes with it the new Windows Server Backup utility.  This application replaces the ntbackup.exe from years past and gives many new features and abilities to network administrators.  However, with it also so comes some changes and shortcomings.  Specifically, the ability to work with a network drive as the backup location.

Windows Server Update has the ability to backup an entire OS to a specified location.  The system, through “Scheduled BackUps”, will perform full and incremental backups of that server.  This is done by specifying a local hard drive to the machine.  This drive will be completely formatted and then the backup will be placed on that drive.  From that point on, incremental backups will be placed on that drive detailing a history of the files and maintaining its own disk size.

This process works great, if you have a local drive.  However, try using a network drive as your backup location.

Windows Server BackUp will allow you to backup to a network share when performing a “Manual BackUp” of the system:

Completing this process will result in a full backup being performed on the system to the specified network drive. 

The issue is that Windows Server Update will only allow you to schedule a backup to a local drive.   The option to save the backup to a network share is not even available.  I even tried to map a network drive but that failed as well.  The system requires that a physical hard drive be present with no operating system files installed on it to allow a backup to be placed on it.

To get around this, I did the following:

I used the following command line syntax:

Wbadmin start backup -backupTarget:\\[Server]\[Share name] -include:C: -vssFull -quiet

That command will perform a complete backup on the server without any user interaction.  I saved that command as a batch file.  I then setup a scheduled task to execute that command on a daily basis.

This process will work fine, except every time the batch file runs it will create a full backup, over writing the existing backup.  Incremental backups are not an option when using the command line or the GUI.  Windows Server Backup is engineered to recognize when a full backup has been completed and incrementally backup the files after that.  Seeing how this is a "manual backup" that I have scheduled, every time it runs it assumes there is no pre-existing backup and performs a full backup instead. Ideally, we would schedule a full backup of the system to the network share once, then have daily incremental backups of the systems from that point on.  This process is not supported in Windows Server Backup. 

And if you thought of just using ntbackup.exe on Windows Server 2008, guess again.  Microsoft has released a tool to allow Windows Server 2008 to read ntbackup.exe backup files, however, it will not backup any new files.

I contacted Microsoft support regarding this issue but they were clueless.  I find it hard to believe that every company will be backing up their servers to a hard drive on the machine.  Hopefully Microsoft comes out with a solution to this issue soon.


Wiz E. Wig, Mascot & Director of Magic
Wiz E. Wig

Director of Magic