Windows Server Backup 2008 Restore from Network Location

Hello my name Scott McArthur and I am a Senior Support Escalation Engineer in the Windows Platforms group. Today’s blog submission is how to use Windows Server Backup to do a complete system restore over the network. This blog is specific to Windows Server 2008 but the process is basically the same for Windows Vista.


You have added the Windows Server Backup feature to your 2008 install and run a Complete PC Backup to a network location, \\server\share

The following steps show how to do this restore by using the Windows Recovery Environment UI in addition to a sample way to do this with command line.

If the network adapter or hard drive requires a third-party driver, you should put those drivers on a USB flash drive.

1. Start the computer by using the Windows Server 2008 DVD

2. On the first screen Click Next.


3. Select the “Repair your computer” option in the lower-left corner of screen.


4. It will show you any currently installed operating systems. Click Next.


If this screen is blank you may have to load a third-party driver for your mass storage driver. You can click Load Drivers to load the mass storage driver from your USB flash drive.

5. Click “Windows Complete PC Restore”.


6. It will report “A valid backup location could not be found”. Click cancel.


7. Select “Restore a different backup” then next.


8. Click Advanced.


9. If the network adapter driver is included with Windows Server 2008 you can click “Search for a backup on the network. If the network adapter driver is not included you have to click “install a driver” and browse to your driver to load it. In my test I was using a Hyper-V virtual machine with the legacy network adapter. The legacy network adapter driver is in Windows Server 2008 so that it just works. The synthetic driver is not included.


You would receive an error similar to the following when you try to connect to the server.


10. Click Yes to the “Are you sure you want to connect to the network” and then specify the path of your backup. You can use IP address instead to eliminate any netbios/dns issues.


11. Select the backup listed and then click Next.


12. Select the backup then Next.


13. You are presented with the restore options.


The exclude disks option enables you to exclude disks from the restore process.

The advanced button has the following options.


14. Click Finish to confirm the settings.


If you selected “Format and repartition disks” you are prompted with “Windows Complete PC restore will format the disks you chose to restore, which will erase all existing data”.  Click “I confirm that I want to format the disks and restore the backup”.


You can monitor the progress through the final dialog box.


The restart will automatically occur or you can delay it.


For some scenarios, you may want to do this manually. The following lists the basic general steps to do this at the command prompt.

1. At the following screen select the “Command prompt” option.


2. Run the following commands at the command prompt.

If your network adapter is not included with Windows you need to load the driver using drvload.

Drvload driver.inf

Where driver.inf is the inf for the network adapter. You can load this from an usb flash drive or the local drive if it is available.

Start /w wpeinit

Run ipconfig to verify the driver loaded and you have a valid ip address. If you have to set a static IP address, you could use netsh. For example

“netsh interface ipv4 set address name = "<idx>" source=static address=<staticIP> mask=<SubnetMask> gateway=<DefaultGateway>”

Netsh Commands for Interface (IPv4 and IPv6)

Net use z: \\server\share /user:username

Where \\server\share is the location that you saved your backup to. There should be a WindowsImageBackup folder in the root of the share/directory that you saved your backup to.

wbadmin get versions -backuptarget:\\server\share

You should output similar to the following

wbadmin 1.0 – Backup command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2004 Microsoft Corp.

The times of the backups displayed are based on the timezone of the current
operating system you have booted into.
The timezone used currently is (GMT -08:00) Pacific Standard Time

Backup time: 1/8/2009 11:20 AM
Backup target: Network Share labeled \\server\share
Version identifier: 01/08/2009-19:20
Can Recover: Volume(s), File(s), Application(s), Bare Metal Recovery

From this you must have the Version Identifier for the next step.

Note this basically wipes the drive so be careful when you use the next command

wbadmin start sysrecovery –backuptarget:\\server\share -version:01/08/2009-19:20 -recreatedisks –restoreallvolumes -quiet

Hopefully this helps show how to do a basic restore of a Windows Server 2008 computer.

Scott McArthur
Senior Support Escalation Engineer
Microsoft Enterprise Platforms Support