Backup overview

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Backup overview

The Backup utility helps you protect data from accidental loss if your system’s hardware or storage media fails. For example, you can use Backup to create a duplicate copy of the data on your hard disk and then archive the data on another storage device. The backup storage medium can be a logical drive such as your hard disk, a separate storage device such as a removable disk, or an entire library of disks or tapes organized and controlled by a robotic changer. If the original data on your hard disk is accidentally erased or overwritten, or becomes inaccessible because of a hard disk malfunction, you can easily restore the data from the archived copy.

Backup creates a volume shadow copy of your data to create an accurate copy of the contents of your hard drive, including any open files or files that are being used by the system. Users can continue to access the system while the Backup utility is running without risking loss of data.

For more information on volume shadow copy, see Volume shadow copy overview.

Using Backup, you can:

  • Archive selected files and folders on your hard disk.

  • Restore the archived files and folders to your hard disk or any other disk you can access.

  • Use Automated System Recovery to save and restore all the system files and configuration settings that you need to recover from a complete system failure.

  • Make a copy of any Remote Storage data and any data stored in mounted drives.

  • Make a copy of your computer's System State.

  • Create a log of what files were backed up and when the backup was performed.

  • Make a copy of your computer's system partition, boot partition, and the files needed to start up your system in case of computer or network failure.

  • Schedule regular backups to keep your archived data up-to-date.

  • Backup also performs simple media management functions, for example, formatting. More advanced management tasks such as mounting and dismounting a tape or disk are done by a service called Removable Storage. For more information on Removable Storage, see Removable Storage overview.


  • You can use Backup to back up and restore data on FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS volumes. However, if you have backed up data from an NTFS volume, it is recommended that you restore the data to an NTFS volume of the same version to prevent losing data. Some file systems might not support all of the features of other file systems.

  • Physical access to a server is a high security risk. To maintain a more secure environment, you must restrict physical access to all servers and network hardware.