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Windows Server Backup and Server Core

Backing up without the benefit of a Graphical User Interface

By Glenn Weadock on Wed, 12/30/09 - 2:32pm.

Microsoft’s Windows Server Backup program, which we’ve been discussing lately, wouldn’t be all that great if it didn’t also support the Server Core versions of the server operating system – the ones that don’t include a graphical user interface. Thankfully, it does! Although (as with many things Server Core-related) it’s a tad tricky.

First off, the backup program isn’t installed by default. In “regular” Server 2008, the command is
ocsetup WindowsServerBackup
or, if you prefer,
start /w ocsetup WindowsServerBackup
(and you’d better get the capitalization right, because the feature names with ocsetup are case-sensitive, for some reason known only to Microsoft).

In Server 2008 R2, Microsoft wants us to use the DISM command, for example:
dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:WindowsServerBackup
(and, again, the feature name has to be capitalized just right. Send your postcards to Steve Ballmer, Microsoft, Redmond, WA.)

To run the backup program on a Server Core system, you can just use WBADMIN as you would (for example) in a script on a full server box, for example:
wbadmin.exe start backup -backupTarget:\\server\share -allCritical -VSSfull -quiet

You can also connect to your Server Core box using a remote command environment like WinRM (Windows Remote Management) and perform a backup that way. Remember also that in the R2 release, you can now store scheduled backups on a remote share or remote volume. (This was one of the more annoying limitations of the straight Server 2008 version… although you could always get around it by creating a scheduled task.)