This article edited by MiniTool company gives an overall review on WBAdmin. Especially, it describes some common WBAdmin commands including enable backup, start system state backup, start system state recovery, delete backup, etc. Besides, this article also introduces some alternatives to WBAdmin.

What Is WBAdmin?

In computing, WBAdmin is a command line utility integrated into Windows PC operating systems (OSes) including next-generation Windows 11, Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista; as well as Windows Servers including Windows Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2012 R2, 2016, and the latest 2019.

WBAdmin exe is used to perform backup and restoration tasks of systems, hard drive volumes/partitions, all kinds of files/folders, as well as applications from a command-line interface. It is the command-line version of Windows Backup and Restore.

WBAdmin Features

WBAdmin is a disk-based backup system. It can build a “bare metal” backup that can be used to recover OS to similar or dissimilar hardware. Typically, the created backup file(s) are in the form of Microsoft Virtual Hard Disk (.VHD) files together with some accompanying .xml configuration files. The .vhd file can be mounted in Windows Disk Manager for viewing content. Yet, the .vhd backup file isn’t a direct “disk clone”.

WBAdmin can simplify the creation of system backup and restore using its graphical user interface (GUI). Workstation editions like Windows 7 make use of a backup wizard in Windows Control Panel while the server version is done via a (pre-installed) Windows Feature using the Windows Management Console WBAdmin.MSC. The WBAdmin Management Console recovery no matter for a single file or multiple folders.

Relying on the command line or GUI, WBAdmin is able to create a backup that can be easily restored using just the Windows media installation DVD and the backup files saved on a removable storage device. Once the original copy is damaged or lost, you can quickly get it back without reinstalling it from scratch.

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WBAdmin relies on a differencing engine to update the backup files. Once the original backup file is created, volume shadow copy service (VSS) updates change and subsequent full backups take a matter of moments instead of many minutes taken to create the original backup file. Automatic backups can be scheduled regularly using a wizard.

Generally, WBAdmin supports 2 types of restorations as below.

  • Individual file, folder, and system state restore: Files, folders, or the computer’s system state can be restored from the command line through WBAdmin.
  • Bare metal restore: With the help of the Window recovery environment (Windows RE), you can complete a full server recovery to either the same server or a server with dissimilar hardware (hardware independent restore – HIR).

What Is NTBackup?

NTBackup is the predecessor of the WBAdmin command-line and it was built in Windows NT 3.5.1, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, and Windows XP.

NTBackup comprises a command-line utility and a set of wizard interfaces that offer multiple options to create, customize, and manage backups. It is integrated with shadow copy and task scheduler. NTBackup exe creates backups in a proprietary BKF file format to external sources including hard drives, floppy disks, tapes, and ZIP drives, as well as MTF (Microsoft tape format) for tape drives only.

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WBAdmin vs NTBackup

Although WBAdmin and Backup & Restore have replaced NTBackup since Windows Vista, you can restore NTBackup by copying necessary files from Windows XP. And, WBAdmin exe and Windows Server Backup replaced NTBackup since Windows Server 2008.

As for reading and restoring older backups created by NTBackup, Microsoft enable NTBackup recovery utility in Windows Vista and Windows 2008. For Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, they can only read BKF files.

The following is a table listing the main differences between WBAdmin and NTBackup.

Backup utility WBAdminNTBackupBackup and RestoreWindows Server Backup
Supported OSes
  • Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista
  • Windows Server 2019/2016/2012 r2/2012/2008 r2/2008
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows NT 4.0/3.5.1
Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/VistaWindows Server 2019/2016/2012 r2/2012/2008 r2/2008
Backup destination devices
  • hard disks: HDD, SSD, SSHD, USB flash drives, hardware RAID, NAS
  • Home File Server, PC cards, Thumb drives, and virtual disks
  • Floppy disks, tapes, and ZIP drives
hard drives, floppy disks, tapes, and ZIP drives
  • hard disks: HDD, SSD, SSHD, USB flash drives, hardware RAID, NAS
  • Home File Server, PC cards, Thumb drives, and virtual disks
  • Floppy disks, tapes, and ZIP drives
  • hard disks: HDD, SSD, SSHD, USB flash drives, hardware RAID, NAS
  • Home File Server, PC cards, Thumb drives, and virtual disks
  • Floppy disks, tapes, and ZIP drives

How to Use WBAdmin?

After learning the basic information about WBAdmin, now, let’s see how to make use of it to create/delete a backup, enable/disable backup, start a backup, start recovery, and so on. The following content will show the instructions one by one.

Before using WBAdmin, you have to be a member of the Backup Operators or the Administrators group, or you have been authorized with proper rights. If you want to configure a regularly scheduled backup with WBAdmin commands, you must have the privileges of an Administrator.

Besides, you are required to run WBAdmin from an elevated command prompt, CMD or PowerShell. Just right-click the command prompt application and select the Run as administrator option.

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First of all, let’s preview what operations can WBAdmin do.

  • WBAdmin enable backup: Configures and enables a regularly scheduled backup.
  • WBAdmin disable backup: Disables daily backups.
  • WBAdmin start backup: Runs a one-time backup.
  • WBAdmin start systemstatebackup: Runs a system state backup.
  • WBAdmin start systemstaterecovery: Runs a system state recovery.
  • WBAdmin start sysrecovery: Runs a recovery of the full system.
  • WBAdmin start recovery: Runs a recovery of the specified files, folders, apps, or volumes.
  • WBAdmin stop job: Stops the currently running backup or restoration.
  • WBAdmin delete systemstatebackup: Deletes one or more system state backups.
  • WBAdmin delete catalog: Deletes backup catalog on the local machine.
  • WBAdmin restore catalog: Restores a backup catalog from a specified storage location in case of the original catalog on the local computer gets damaged or lost.
  • WBAdmin get disks: Lists current online disks.
  • WBAdmin get items: Lists the items included in a backup.
  • WBAdmin get status: Shows the status of the running backup or recovery
  • WBAdmin get versions: Lists details of backups restorable from the local machine or another computer if it is specified.
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Next, we will pick out some popular WBAdmin commands and introduce them in detail.

1. WBAdmin Enable Backup

This command creates and enables a daily backup schedule or modifies an existing backup schedule. If no additional parameters are specified, it will display the currently scheduled backup settings.

wbadmin enable backup [-addtarget:<BackupTarget>] [-removetarget:<BackupTarget>] [-schedule:<TimeToRunBackup>] [-include:<VolumesToInclude>] [-nonRecurseInclude:<ItemsToInclude>] [-exclude:<ItemsToExclude>] [-nonRecurseExclude:<ItemsToExclude>][-systemState] [-hyperv:<HyperVComponentsToExclude>] [-allCritical] [-vssFull | -vssCopy] [-user:<UserName>] [-password:<Password>] [-allowDeleteOldBackups]  [-quiet]

  • -addtarget: Specify the backup destination. If you select a disk, the disk will be formatted and all data on it will be permanently erased.
  • -removetarget: Specify the storage location (as a disk identifier) that you’d like to remove from the existing backup schedule.
  • -schedule: Specify times of day to create a backup, formatted as HH:MM and comma delimited.
  • -Include: Specify the comma-delimited list of sources to include in the backup.
  • -nonRecurseInclude: Specify the non-recursive, comma-delimited list of items to include in the backup.
  • -Exclude: Specify the comma-delimited list of items to exclude from the backup.
  • -nonRecurseExclude: Specify the non-recursive, comma-delimited list of items excluded from the backup.
  • -hyperv: Specify the comma-delimited list of components to be included in the backup.
  • -systemState: Creates a backup that includes the system state in addition to any other items that you specified with the –include
  • -allCritical: Specify that all critical volumes that contain system state are to be included in backups.
  • -vssFull: Perform a full backup using the Volume Shadow Copy Service.
  • -vssCopy: Perform a copy backup using VSS.
  • -user: Specify the user with write permission to the backup target place if it’s a remote shared folder.
  • -password: Specify the password for the username provided by the parameter –user.
  • -allowDeleteOldBackups: Overwrites any backups made before the computer was upgraded.
  • -quiet: Runs the command without prompts.

WBAdmin enable backup example:

wbadmin enable backup -addtarget:Disk 1 -schedule:07:00,21:30 -include:C:,D:\programs -exclude: C:\Windows.old -vssFull -password:123 -quiet

The above example performs a full backup of C: and D:\programs (excluding the Windows.old folder in C:\) using VSS to Disk 1 at seven o’clock in the morning and 9:30 in the evening every day without prompts.

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2. WBAdmin Start Backup

This command creates a VSS copy backup using specified parameters and doesn’t update the history of the files that are being backed up. If no parameters are specified and you have created a scheduled daily backup, it will create a backup using the settings for the daily backup.

wbadmin start backup [-backupTarget:{<BackupTargetLocation> | <TargetNetworkShare>}] [-include:<ItemsToInclude>] [-nonRecurseInclude:<ItemsToInclude>] [-exclude:<ItemsToExclude>] [-nonRecurseExclude:<ItemsToExclude>] [-allCritical] [-systemState] [-noVerify] [-user:<UserName>] [-password:<Password>] [-noInheritAcl] [-vssFull | -vssCopy] [-quiet]

For the parameters in this syntax that have the same name as those mentioned above, they have the same function. So, we will only list the different parameters below.

  • noVerify: Specify that backups stored to removable devices like a CD/DVD are not verified for errors.
  • noInheritAcl: Apply the access control list (ACL) permissions corresponding to the credentials provided by the -user and -password parameters to \\<servername>\<sharename>\WindowsImageBackup\<ComputerBackedUp>\ (the folder that contains the backup).

WBAdmin start backup example:

wbadmin enable backup -addtarget:Disk 1 -schedule:07:00,21:30 -include:C:,D:\programs -exclude: C:\Windows.old -noVerify -vssFull -password:123 -quiet

The above example performs a full backup of C: and D:\programs (excluding the Windows.old folder in C:\) using VSS to Disk 1 at seven o’clock in the morning and 9:30 in the evening every day without prompts and verifying backup images for errors.

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3. WBAdmin Start Systemstatebackup

This command line creates a system state backup of the local computer and saves it on the specified location.

wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:<VolumeName> [-quiet]

4. WBAdmin Start Recovery

This command order performs a restoration relying on the customized parameters.

wbadmin start recovery -version:<VersionIdentifier> -items:{<VolumesToRecover> | <AppsToRecover> | <FilesOrFoldersToRecover>} -itemtype:{Volume | App | File} [-backupTarget:{<VolumeHostingBackup> | <NetworkShareHostingBackup>}] [-machine:<BackupMachineName>] [-recoveryTarget:{<TargetVolumeForRecovery> | <TargetPathForRecovery>}] [-recursive] [-overwrite:{Overwrite | CreateCopy | Skip}] [-notRestoreAcl] [-skipBadClusterCheck] [-noRollForward] [-quiet]

  • version: Specify the version identifier of the backup to restore in MM/DD/YYYY-HH:MM format.
  • items: Specify a comma-delimited list of files, folders, applications, or volumes to recover.
  • backupTarget: Specify the recovery address that includes the backup that you would like to restore.
  • machine: Specify the name of the computer that you plan to restore the backup for.
  • recoveryTarget: Specify the location to recover to.
  • recursive: Restore files in the folders and all files subordinate to the specified folders. Valid only when restoring files.
  • overwrite: Specify the action to carry out when a file that is being restored already exists in the same location, Skip, CreateCopy, or Overwrite. Valid only when recovering files.
  • notRestoreAcl: Specify to not restore the security access control lists of the files being restored from the backup. Valid only when restoring files.
  • skipBadClusterCheck: Skip checking the disks you are restoring to for bad cluster Valid only when recovering volumes.
  • noRollForward: Allow for previous point-in-time recovery of an app if you choose the latest version from the backups. Valid only when restoring apps.

WBAdmin start recovery example:

wbadmin start recovery -version:09/15/2021-17:52 -items:C:\Users -backupTarget:\\\mybackup -itemType:File -overwrite: overwrite

This recovery command restores the Users folder backup version 09/15/2021-17:52 on \\\mybackup and overwrites the same folder in the target location.

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5. WBAdmin Start Systemstaterecovery

This command runs a system state recovery to a target place from a specified backup.

wbadmin start systemstaterecovery -version:<VersionIdentifier> -showsummary [-backupTarget:{<BackupDestinationVolume> | <NetworkSharePath>}]

[-machine:<BackupMachineName>] [-recoveryTarget:<TargetPathForRecovery>] [-authsysvol] [-autoReboot] [-quiet]

  • showsummary: Report the summary of the last system state recovery after the restart required to finish the operation.
  • authsysvol: Perform an authoritative recovery of the System Volume (sysvol) shared directory.
  • autoReboot: Specify to restart the system at the end of the system state restoration.

6. WBAdmin Delete Systemstatebackup

This command line deletes the specified system state backups. If the specified volume contains backups other than system state backups of your local server, WBAdmin delete backup won’t remove them.

wbadmin delete systemstatebackup {-keepVersions:<numberofcopies> | -version:<versionidentifier> | -deleteoldest} [-backupTarget:<volumename>] [-machine:<backupmachinename>] [-quiet]

  • keepVersions: Specify the number of the latest system state backups to maintain.
  • deleteOldest: Delete the oldest system state backup.

7. WBAdmin Delete Catalog

This command order deletes the backup catalog saved on the local machine when the backup catalog has been corrupted or you have no backups saved on the other locations that you can use to restore the catalog.

wbadmin delete catalog [-quiet]

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8. WBAdmin Get Versions

This command displays the details about the available backups saved on the local PC or another machine, including backup time, backup storage location, version identifier, as well as the type of recoveries you can perform.

If you use this command line without extra parameters, it will list all backups of the local computer even if the unavailable backups.

wbadmin get versions [-backupTarget:{<BackupTargetLocation> | <NetworkSharePath>}] [-machine:BackupMachineName]

For more info about WBAdmin commands, please refer to Microsoft Windows WBAdmin.

WBAdmin Alternatives

Just as mentioned above, Windows Backup and Restore, Windows Server Backup, and NTBackup are the replacements of WBAdmin in different situations, which most of you already have known well. Here, we will introduce another excellent counterpart of WBAdmin.exe called MiniTool ShadowMaker, which is a professional and reliable data backup software. Below is a brief guide for how to use this tool.

MiniTool ShadowMaker TrialClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

1. Download, install, and launch MiniTool ShadowMaker on your computer.

2. When it asks for purchase, click the Keep Trial option on the upper right.

3. In its main UI, move to the Backup tab from the top menu.

4. In the Backup tab, click the Source module to select whatever local items you want, files/folders, partitions/volumes, system, or the entire hard disks.

MiniTool ShadowMaker system backup

5. Click the Destination module to choose where you’d like to save the backup image files, internal locations, external hard drives, or NAS.

6. Click on the Schedule button in the bottom left to set up a schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, or on event) to automatically perform backups in the future.

MiniTool ShadowMaker schedule backup

7. Click on the Scheme button next to the Schedule button to specialize what kind of backup you want, full backup, incremental backup, or differential backup.

MiniTool ShadowMaker backup type

8. You can also click the Options button in the lower right to do some settings to the backup, including which disk sector to backup, how large the backup image can be, what files to be excluded from the backup, backup encryption, backup image file integrity verification, etc.

MiniTool ShadowMaker backup management

9. Finally, click the Back up Now button to start the backup.

Besides, MiniTool ShadowMaker also has a set of commands for data backup. You can run cmd.exe as administrator and run the below command:

cd C:\Program Files (x86)\MiniTool ShadowMaker (get access to the MiniTool ShadowMaker installation folder)

system_backup_cmd.exe –help (show the commands for MiniTool ShadowMaker command line backup)

If you MiniTool ShadowMaker isn’t installed in C:\Program Files (x86)\MiniTool ShadowMaker, just replace it with your own path. Then, you can use the system_backup_cmd.exe followed with the commands you want to specify your own backup.

Moreover, MiniTool ShadowMaker can also sync files/folders from one location to another, clone the whole hard disk to a new advanced drive, create bootable media, boot computers via a network, connect remote PCs and back up data on them……

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