NTBackup is gone from Windows Server 2008?

Yep its true. NTBackup is gone....at least as you know it! You can have it back again with a download but its only so that you can read data from tapes or media you already have that you created previously. Its been replaced with Windows Server backup. This does pretty much what the old one did with one omission....it no longer supports tape units.  Personally when I was an IT Pro working for a systems integrator - I hated tape units. They were an absolute pain in the neck and generally unreliable. That said we still do implement the tape drivers in the OS, just not the tape support in Windows Server backup. Instead we now support optical media and support hard disk based backup. Some people actually liked tape though and even used Ntbackup to perform their daily backups- though in the vast majority of cases these were very small business customers.

Though here's some of the rationale why it makes sense:

1. The vast majority of customers, especially those with large data backup sizes above what small business typically backs up, used third party backup tools like Veritas Backup Exec or Commvault. It makes sense - these tools gave significantly better functionality and granularity than what we provided. These third party tools still support tape units in Windows Server 2008 even though we don't.

2. Ntbackup was never designed as an enterprise backup tool. I remember the days when ARCserve and Backup Exec started doing brick level backup of Exchange....and Ntbackup just couldnt...

3. Trends toward Optical and Disk backup are increasing and while people are still reliant on tape - many would rather not be. For small business optical and disk based backup suits quite well. Disk is relatively cheap, easier to maintain and store - especially removable disks - and with very high capacities! Backup and restore windows are quite a bit faster too.

If you have needs beyond the scope of Windows Server backup - use the third party tools. In many cases these companies have worked directly with us to make sure their product works well with any new advancements we made in file systems or snapshot support. Ours is intended to be an entry level product. Dont assume it will do more than that.

Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lots of questions at the recent Wave roadshow around our decision to remove native support for tape back-up

  2. Anonymous says:

    Having never really liked NTBackup, i can't say that i'm saddened that it's been replaced

  3. Thanks Mark and Dean for the recent comments and feedback.

    So far on this topic Ive seen comments that range from frustration to indifferent.

    I did actually have one comment that for the first time in 4 four years of having this blog I chose not to publish. I felt it was very rude, was unconstructive and attacked me personally – I will not allow comments such as this. I am all for positive and negative critique and constructive feedback – pointing out areas that could be improved or calling out an issue. No problem with constructive criticism at all.

    That said – for those of you that have expressed valid concerns I will be escalating your comments to the relevant product teams for their consideration.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone!

  4. Stuart/Orin – I guess my point here was that the backup in the Windows Server was never really designed to be an enterprise backup tool – and Exchange DB backup is more than basic backup capability. While NTbackup did do these things before – it was always positioned at the smaller business end of the market.

    The changes in Windows Server 2008 now reflect this position.

  5. Windows Server Backup also can not backup Exchange databases, which was also a good option to have in an emergency.

  6. Orin Thomas says:

    Actually there are some other significant differences in how Windows Server Backup works compared to NT Backup. For example the "minimum unit of backup" is the volume. You can’t create a backup job for just a specific file or folder (though you can restore an individual file or folder). You can also set backup to write to multiple devices at the same time, allowing you to send one USB HDD off site while keeping the other in the server room.

    You don’t select a differential/incremental or normal backup in setting up the schedule – you create a schedule and then determine whether it will be normal each time or incremental each time as a performance option (if you choose incremental, the first backup is normal).

    Lots of good info on Windows Server Backup at:


  7. There’s also a nice little catch to Windows Server Backup – it doesn’t let you backup files from a drive > 2TB.

    ntbackup let you backup files from a drive this large, so you’re kind of screwed now with windows server 2008.

  8. mark anyon says:

    We have over 100 small business site using ntbackup to back up to tape. I hope that SBS 2008 can backup to tape without requiring 3rd party apps.

    It appears to me that its a loss of funtionality now that tape backup is not supported natively in win 2008.

    For a site that needs to backup 50gb or so every night, tape is ideal. Offsite storage is convenient with a tape. Tape drive capacity’s have grown lately to match growing data requirements.

    This is one reason for us not to rush our sites to win 2008 !

  9. Dean Calvert says:

    It’s true that SBS2008 won’t support tape backup natively – same as Windows Server 2008. You will need a 3rd party application to support backup to tape. However you can still READ from tape backups using NTBACKUP under the 2008 product family.

    The backup technology has changed radically – but this is a good thing as backups will be run faster, simpler and be easier to restore/recover from.

    For specific SBS2008 backup information have a look at http://sbs.seandaniel.com/2008/03/small-business-server-2008-backup-q.html

    Imaging based backups are becoming more popular and present a better DR solution for recovering a system either to new hardware or a virtualised environment.

    Having been a supporter of tape backups for years, my company made the jump to disk & image based backups last year and we haven’t looked back – both for us and our clients.

    Don’t get fearful of the changes in the backup process – investigate the new technology, test it, play with it and then make a judgement. I personally think you’ll be happy with the results.

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