Automated System Image Backup

The windows 7 Backup and Restore console do not allow you to schedule System Image backups :(  On the other hand, ad hoc manual System Image backups can be performed!

System Image Backup

However, in Windows 7 you can use the Wbadmin command-line utility to perform scheduled clones (snapshots) of your PC!  The normal backup rules need to be observed before using this utility and these are:

  • The destination location should be a second internal hard drive, an external hard drive, a network shared drive or multiple DVDs – not recommended/feasible
  • The destination drive should be formatted with NTFS file system – windows 7 default
  • Adequate space is available on the destination drive – equal to the source data size (Actually, even less than that!)
  • The utility needs administrative privilegese

Now, let’s see how easy it is to create an automated task that initiates a System Image backup of the c: drive and saves it to another drive :) Assuming your windows volume or drive is the c: and your destination drive is e: (where e: can be a second hard drive or a network share). Save the following text in a file with an extension .bat Ex: SystemSnapshot.bat

wbadmin start backup -backuptarget:e: -include:c: -allCritical -quiet

This wbadmin utility will start an image backup of your system, system and boot volumes while it saves it to the e: drive.

As with any script, you can then create a schedule job using SCHTASKS ( Windows Task Scheduler command) as follows:

SCHTASKS /Create /SC weekly /D sun /TN “Imagebkup” /TR c:\scripts\SystemSnapshot.bat /ST 22:00 /IT

where the task scheduler will run the Image backup script every Sunday on weekly basis at 22:00 hours. Assuming the user is logged on and have administrative rights! However, I do recommend to use the native Windows 7 Task Scheduler Utility to set a schedule as this utility is much improved in this new OS :) Check for errors if any in the history tab of your scheduled task. An error return code of O means ok!

image backup command output

A folder structure is created on the destination drive together with a number of files. The most important file is the .vhd one where in Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate editions, you can restore all your data and applications. How to mount this image and restore your computer will be explained in a future article :)