How to make Windows 2012 disk image

nachtmsk used Ask the Experts™
i have a newly built Windows 2012 server standard (not Hyper-V, not R2), fully updated through MS updates.
I want to create an exact backup of the disk the way it is, so in the event I mess up something in the future, I  don't have to start from scratch in building the server again. BTW -- this is a Lab server.
So, what's the easiest way for me to create an image either on the system disk (plenty of space) or removable disk/USB that would allow me to restore the server to it's current state in the future if need be.

I'm not talking about a bootable/installation disk image, I already have that on a USB stick, that's how I built the server. I'm talking about the server as it stands now, since I've updated it. There were a lot of MS updates, I don't want to go through that again if possible.

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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE Fellow)VMware and Virtualization Consultant
Fellow 2018
Expert of the Year 2017

So you want to image your computer, so you can restore from an image.

How about

Drive Snapshot -

Inexpensive, and almost free!

otherwise, you've got Acronis imaging tools, or

We actually use the following these days quick and easy...
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Why not make a backup using the Windows Backup and Bare Metal Restore option?
Use the Windows Server Backup utility.  First you have to install the feature through Add/Remove features, then you would create a full system backup with Bare Metal Restore, System State, and everything else included.  This will create an image for you.

But if you created this server for labs, then I recommend you recreate it as a virtual machine.  You can use free and easily accessible vm workstation software such as Oracle VirtualBox.  Then your server exists as a file on your hard drive.  You can then makes copies of that file or even create snapshots using VirtualBox.
IT Product Manager
Top Expert 2009
Here is a microtutorial which explains how to take backup using Windows Server Backup feature:


All good suggestions, thanks! I will look each of them over in detail and be back.
Top Expert 2016

I only use the base install media ONCE install all of the updates, sysprep and then capture an image of the machine and then use this base image for further installations.

I highly leverage MDT in order to do this. I have reference images of all the current Microsoft Operating systems and leverage WSUS for the updates. It takes about 24-48 hours to create the initial reference images. All of this is done in hyper-v so that if I change platforms for a physical install I don't bring artifacts of a machines physical dependencies.

from these reference images this is where I do my production deployments and typically refresh these captures every 6 months. These refreshes take considerably less time.

I also have in place regular backup solutions for bare metal restores of production machines.

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