Windows Server 2016 – Configuring a full system backup using Windows Server Backup

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Maintaining a good backup solution is so critical to administering a corporate server environment in today’s IT world. There are limitless potential options for designing your particular backup plan, all the way from file copy backups to redundant servers sitting in hot standby mode.

While many third-party tools and technologies provide the capability to back up all of your servers simultaneously while retaining multiple previous versions of each, those tools are not always on the table because of cost and implementation complexity. Let’s take a few minutes and familiarize ourselves with the built-in backup solution that Microsoft provides free of charge, right in the Server 2016 operating system.

Getting ready

We are logged in to our Server 2016 web server. We will be using the built-in Windows Server Backup tool in order to create a full image of this server.

How to do it…

Follow these steps to back up your Server 2016 using the built-in Windows Server Backup:

  1. Open Server Manager and click Add roles and features. Go through this wizard, following the steps in order to install the feature called Windows Server Backup. Remember that this is a Feature, not a Role, so look for it on the second screen.
  1. Launch Windows Server Backup from your Start menu, or from the Tools menu inside Server Manager:
  1. In the left window pane, choose Local Backup.
  2. Then, toward the right of your screen, click on the Backup Schedule… action and click on Next.
  1. On the Select Backup Configuration screen, I am going to choose Full server. If you have only specific items you would like to back up, you can use the Custom option for that purpose:
  1. Specify the schedule for how often you would like these backups to run. I’m going to have mine run every morning at 2:00 AM:
  1. As you can see in the text, the best way to store backups is to have a dedicated hard disk plugged into your server. However, I don’t have an extra drive installed here, so I am going to choose Back up to a volume and specify my D drive, a separate partition that has no data on it currently, as my storage container for backups:

How it works…

In this recipe, we installed the Windows Server Backup feature into our server and walked through the wizard in order to schedule daily full backups. This is a straightforward process, but the storage location of your backup files can take a little bit of consideration. A dedicated hard disk is the best solution for storing backups; that way, if your drive goes down you will have all of the backup files on another physical disk. And then, of course, if you configure an option for replicating that data to another physical site, or rotating drives on a schedule, that will protect your data even better in the event of a site failure or catastrophe. Storing onto a separate volume on the same disk is also an option, but then you are in a situation where that physical disk is a single point of failure for both your live operating system and the backup files. The third option is storing backup files on the network. This is something that I expect a lot of admins will choose, but you have to keep in mind that, when making this configuration, you will only be able to have one backup file stored in that network location at a time from your server, as they will be overwritten with each new backup process.

There is a second action available from inside the backup console that we didn’t touch on. In order to accomplish ad-hoc backups, or backups that you intend to create manually on an as-needed basis, you could launch an action called Backup Once… Use this to create a manual backup copy at any time.

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