Q: We want to include a server configuration backup of our Windows servers in our change management procedures. How can I start a Windows system state backup from the command line?

A: In Windows Server 2008 and later, you can use the Wbadmin.exe command-line utility to perform a system state backup. Wbadmin.exe is available only if you installed the Windows Server Backup feature on your Windows Server OS.

To perform a system state backup, you must use the following Wbadmin command syntax:

wbadmin start systemstatebackup
  -backuptarget:<targetDrive> -quiet

In this command, you need to replace <targetDrive> with either the local volume identifier or the drive letter of the physical disk drive that will store the system state backup. The -quiet parameter is optional. If you don't want to be prompted to press the letter Y when the backup starts, include this parameter.

For example, to create a system state backup with no prompts and save it to volume D, you must run:

wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:D: -quiet

If you want to specify a local volume identifier rather than a drive letter in the above Wbadmin command, you can use the following command to get a list of your local volume identifiers:

wbadmin get disks

To view the complete syntax of the Wbadmin command, run:

wbadmin start systemstatebackup /?

To perform a system state backup with Wbadmin.exe, you must be a member of the Backup Operators group or the Administrators group. Wbadmin.exe must also be run from an elevated command prompt. To open an elevated command prompt, click Start, right-click Command Prompt (which you can find in the Accessories folder), then click Run as administrator.