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Backing up Server Core

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The scope of this article is to demonstrate how to make a local backup of a Windows Server 2008 Server Core installation.

Alongside the tasks, to which the server has been deployed, backup is the most important thing it can do. All servers should have a regular, implemented backup regimen, which includes storing a recent copy of the backup off-site. Server technicians should be well versed and practiced in restoring the backups under every condition. It is at the least convenient moment that a restore will become necessary and having experience can turn a disaster into a smooth recovery.

Server Core is no different, data is stored just like on any other server and it should be backed up with the same considerations.

The tools available to server core are the Windows Backup Utility, which can be administered using the wbadmin command line tool or the Windows Backup Console from a full version of Windows Server 2008 (WS08). Note, that I did not include Windows Vista. The Windows Backup Console is not shipped with RSAT and cannot be used from Windows Vista.

Windows Backup will write to and read from all types of HDDs and optical media, but NOT tape. Microsoft System Center is required for backups, working with tape media.

All of the commands, mentioned below have to be run under an administrative account.

Installing Windows Backup on server core with ocsetup.exe.

start /w ocsetup WindowsServerBackup

Make sure Windows Backup was actually installed, the install process is silent.

oclist | find Installed

WindowsServerBackup should be listed as Installed, next to last in the list.

Backing up from the command line with wbadmin.

First, we need to get the disk identifier for the hard drive we want to back up and to back up.

wbadmin get disks

Our example will use the disk identifier of: {ab7bab7b-0000-0000-0000-000000000000} for the backup source and {2ebf5aa0-0000-0000-0000-000000000000} as the target disk. The weird nomenclature used by the commands can lend itself to mistakes of interpretation and configuration. I use a notebook, or notepad.exe, with entries titled Fixed and USB and the ID numbers written underneath to keep things straight.

To enable a scheduled backup of all fixed disks, execute the following command:

wbadmin enable backup -addtarget:{2ebf5aa0-0000-0000-0000-000000000000} -schedule:03:00 -allcritical

The backup will occur every night at 0300 and include all critical disks, those which are not the backup disk itself.

To see all of the backup jobs which are enabled and scheduled, execute the following command:

wbadmin enable backup

To disable a scheduled backup, replace the enable portion of the wbadmin command with disable.

To run an immediate backup right away, enter the following:

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:\\Path\To\Backup -user:DOMAIN\user -password:******** -allcritical

To check the running backup: (If no backups are currently running, then the results will show that too)

wbadmin get status

The backup is not all too useful if it cannot be verified as trusted, or restored when needed. The following commands can restore a backup to an existing server core machine.

First find all of the backup jobs stored on the target where they are thought to be kept. (example: T:\)

wbadmin get versions -backuptarget:T:

Then, select the backup that should be restored

wbadmin start recovery -version:MM/DD/YYYY-00:00 -items:C:\path\to\items\restored -itemtype:file -backuptarget:T: -recursive -overwrite:skip -quiet

That's it!  Backup and enjoy!
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