Windows Server Backup Limitations

In a world of restrictive IT budgets, it’s hard to beat free! And nobody would disagree that a simple, functional backup is better than no backup at all.Feeling boxed-in? However the question often comes up, “Is the backup software that is included with the Microsoft Windows operating systems sufficient to protect the data of my business?”. In all likelihood it depends upon your environment and your backup needs. Today we’ll take a brief look at the shortcomings of Windows Server Backup (WSB), the software included with Microsoft Windows Server product. (Note: You may find similarities with the backup included with the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system as well.) Selecting the correct solutions and methods of protecting data can be crucial to the health of your business.

  1. Storage Media

Windows Server Backup limits the range of usable storage technologies. Users must back up to a fixed local disk meaning that automated backup to removable media Tape, DVD and RDX are not possible. Backups to dedicated drives then become invisible to Windows Explorer, while backups to a volume will offer comparatively reduced performance.

  1. Network Share

While you can send backups to a network share, the software will keep only a single backup, erasing the previous backup each time a backup is completed. Many businesses will find this option unusable, an effective deal-breaker due to their businesses file versioning and data retention requirements.

  1. Encryption

By default, WSB backups are not encrypted. To create encrypted backups with Windows Backup, you must first install Bitlocker (a separate application). Source and destination locations must then be enabled and prepared for Bitlocker. If the required drive is not encrypted when the backup job runs, the backup job will fail. A USB drive will be required for encryption keys. This is not typically what SysAdmins would call seamless integrated encryption.

  1. Support

When was the last time you tried to call Microsoft about one of their free included tools? Due to the importance and complexity of data protection manufacturer support is one of the essential requirements for a professional backup solution. Consider your recourse should a critical backup fail to restore.

  1. Monitoring

Windows Server Backup manages the backups on a per server basis, which means you may be running between multiple servers to verify, maintain and manage your backups. If you require the ability to verify the backup status of all machines at a glance with central monitoring, you’ll be out of luck.

  1. Reporting

Modern backup programs offer instant verification of whether backups succeed or fail, often through automated email reports and alert notifications. But if you are looking for detailed reporting with WSB, you may want to think again.  Those are considered enterprise level features which are not included.

  1. Granularity

WSB will perform complete backup of SQL or Exchange when a VSS aware backup is enabled. Hopefully you’ve tested to see exactly how long it will take to recover. You will only have the option of restoring the entire exchange store or SQL database, rather than being able to restore specific mailboxes and tables.


Growing businesses face ever changing needs in regards to their data protection. Are there more weaknesses that you’ve run into with free or included backup products? Tell us what you ran into that created a need for a second look at your backup methods in the comments below. NovaStor’s small business product line offers server backup products and a free monitoring console for keeping tabs on the health of your data. If you would like to speak with an expert about how your backup solution could be improved, click here.

Sean Curiel

Written by Sean Curiel.
Sean is a marketing expert serving NovaStor’s NovaBACKUP and DataCenter communities. The views expressed are exclusively his own and not necessarily that of NovaStor’s.

Sean Curiel

Sean is a Technology Marketing Professional at NovaStor, with over a decade of experience in the industry. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

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