WBADMIN and Server 2008 R2

What's new in the server backup utility?

Last time I wrote about the Windows Server Backup tool in Server 2008 and its use in creating systems state backups. Microsoft made some changes to the backup tool in Server 2008 R2, as it pertains to system state backups, that I thought you might like to know about. For one thing, the program seems to be a bit more fault tolerant. In the original version, it would fail whenever it encountered a bad disk sector. The new version seems to simply move to the next sector instead of just giving up. Also, it’s now possible to use the graphical interface to make a system-state backup, something that required the use of WBADMIN in pre-R2 Server 2008. Of course if you’re using scripts to manage your backups, you still may want to use WBADMIN, but the option in the GUI is nice to have. Installing WBADMIN via the command-line through the older (but still not old!) servermanagercmd.exe tool is now “deprecated” which is a nice way of saying it’ll still work but future versions of Windows probably won’t support it. Microsoft now prefers us to use the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) tool, for example: dism /online /enable-feature /featurename:WindowsServerBackup There are some complications involving Server 2008 R2’s ability to boot from a Virtual Hard Drive (VHD). If you boot Server 2008 R2 from a VHD, you won’t be able to use WBADMIN to perform a so-called “bare metal restore” from within the VHD. You can use WBADMIN to make full system backups (and subsequent bare metal restores) from the host operating system, if you’re using one, as long as you dismount your VHD files before making a system backup. If you don’t have a host OS, then from within the Server 2008 R2 VHD, you can use WBADMIN to do volume level backups of all volumes with the exception of the physical parent volume; you would then be able to boot your system to the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE), mount the VHD, and perform a volume level restore. This is tricky enough that I recommend running through the procedure using a test system for purposes of disaster-recovery documentation.

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