By Crystal / Last Updated May 21, 2024

What Is Windows Server Incremental Backup and How Does It Work

Incremental backup is a type of backup that only includes the changed or newly created files into the backup since the latest backup was taken before.

At the heart of incremental backups lies the "archive bit," a file attribute present in Windows systems. When a full backup runs, this attribute is cleared, signaling that the file has been successfully backed up. Subsequently, when the incremental backup process runs, only files with the archive bit turned on are selected for backup, effectively capturing and securing the changes made since the last backup. To see the archive bit attribute, just right-click on a file in Windows Explorer, choose "Properties," click "Advanced," and you'll spot the checkbox labeled "file is ready for archiving."

This passage will help you set up Windows Server incremental backup using Windows Server Backup, File History and efficient tools.

setup windows server incremental backup

Pros and Cons of Windows Server 2019 Incremental Backup

Windows Server 2019 includes robust tools for incremental backup, enabling enterprises to back up only the data that has changed since the last backup. Let's explore the pros and cons of this approach and how it fits into a comprehensive data protection strategy.

💡 Pros:

  • Save Storage Space:  Only store the changes made since the last backup, significantly reducing the amount of storage space required.
  • Lower Backup Costs: Save storage space leading to cost savings in terms of storage hardware and backup media.
  • Faster Backup Times: Only the modified or newly created data is backed up during each incremental session.
  • Reduced Network Load: With smaller backup sizes, incremental backups put less strain on the network during data transfer.
  • Granular Data Recovery:  Allow administrators to restore specific versions of files or individual files/folders without the need to restore the entire dataset.

pros and cons of windows server incremental backup

💡 Cons:

  • Complex Data Restoration: While individual incremental backups are smaller, the process of restoring data requires applying each incremental backup sequentially, starting from the last full backup.
  • Dependency on Previous Backups: Each incremental backup relies on the integrity of the previous backup. If any of the previous backups are corrupt or missing, it may affect the ability to restore data up to the latest point in time.
  • Impact on System Performance: Although incremental backups are generally faster, the backup process may still consume system resources and impact server performance during the backup window.

By understanding these pros and cons, you can optimize your incremental backup strategy on Windows Server 2012 or 2016 to ensure the security and availability of critical data in the event of unexpected data loss or system failure.

Next, let's explore how to backup incremental Windows Server.

How to Configure Incremental Backup in Windows Server (Built-in)

In Windows Server Backup, you can configure it to do a full backup or incremental backup while setting up a scheduled backup. In addition, Windows Server Backup does not require user intervention to periodically delete older backups to free up disk space for newer backups — older backups are deleted automatically.

Way 1. Use WSB to Backup Incremental on Windows Server 2012 / 2016 / 2019

1. Open Windows Server Backup, click Configure Performance Settings >> Faster backup performance, then click OK.

configure incremental backup

Faster backup performance: This option will track the changes since the last backup, which is called incremental backup.
Custom: You can select specific items and select Incremental backup for the volume you want to backup.

2. Click Backup Schedule, then follow the screen prompt to configure an incremental backup in Windows Server 2019.

backup schedule

Way 2. Use File History to Create Incremental Backup

You can make an incremental backup to the local disk or a network share using File History. Please make a full backup first before performing incremental backup. And here are the detailed steps.

1. Open Control Panel >> File History.

2. Click Advanced settings on the left side.

advanced settings

3. Specify the frequency and time of File History.

specify time and frequency

4. Click Save settings to start backing up the changed data since the last backup.

How to Automate Windows Server Incremental Backups Easily (Third-party)

This article provides you with 2 useful software to image Windows Server for bare metal recovery in case of hard disk failure. AOMEI Cyber Backup and AOMEI Backupper are capable of creating Windows Server image backup in almost all operating systems and is more flexible.

Way 1. Create Windows Server Backup Image with AOMEI Cyber Backup

AOMEI Cyber Backup is your trusted partner in achieving seamless Windows Server incremental backups. AOMEI Cyber Backup is a versatile data protection solution that ensures the safety of your critical data. With user-friendly features like flexible backup scheduling, a variety of backup methods, it provides comprehensive data security for individuals and businesses alike. Whether you're looking to safeguard personal memories or protect your company's crucial data, AOMEI Cyber Backup offers a reliable and efficient solution to keep your information safe and accessible when you need it most.

Why Choose AOMEI Cyber Backup for Windows Server Incremental Backup

Effortless Incremental Backups: AOMEI Cyber Backup simplifies the backup process, saving you time and storage space.

Centralized Management: Our software creates backups from a central console, easily protecting Windows data.

Customized Scheduling: Tailor your backup schedules to fit your server's needs such as daily, weekly, or monthly backups.

User-Friendly Interface: AOMEI Cyber Backup offers an intuitive interface, making backup management a breeze.

Advanced Features: AOMEI Cyber Backup also offers features like auto backup cleanup, email notifications, enhancing your data protection strategy.

Join the thousands of satisfied users who have chosen AOMEI Cyber Backup for their data protection needs. Download the free version and try it today:

Download FreewareWindows Server & PC
Secure Download

1. First, you need to install the AOMEI Cyber Backup Agent on your target device before creating a Windows server backup.

configure agent

2. Navigate to Source Device to add Windows Device, then fill in the correct IP address and user information.

add windows server

3. Go to Backup Task > Create New Task > Disk Backup.

disk backup

4. Choose your Windows Server hard disk to backup.

select disk

5. Choose a destination to save the backup. You can back up disk to local or external disk.

6. Schedule Windows Server incremental backup and run the backup tasks at daily / weekly / monthly.

7. Click Start Backup to protect your Windows Server data.

create windows server for free

✐(Optional) Upgrade to enjoy more features:
1 - Backup more Windows Servers
2 - Flexible retention policy
3 - Restore to new location easily

Please elevate your backup strategy with AOMEI Cyber Backup - your partner in Windows Server incremental backup excellence.

Way 2. Create Windows Server Backup Image with AOMEI Backupper

AOMEI Backupper Server supports schedule backup from daily to weekly, monthly, etc. The shortest interval is the hourly backup. By default, it will backup only changed files after the first full backup, greatly saving backup time and disk space. In addition, you can set backup scheme to delete old backup images in Windows Server automatically. Thus, your backup disk always has enough space for new data.

You can enjoy the following advantages during this process:

⊙ Create image backup in Windows Server and PC automatically: It not only supports Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019/2022 including (R2), but also Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista.
⊙ Backup only changed files: It supports Incremental backup and Differential backup, which backup only changes instead of a complete copy.
⊙ Delete old backup images automatically: It supports 4 cleanup methods, including By quantity, By time, By daily/weekly/monthly, and By space, depending on the select backup method.

Please download the Windows server backup software - AOMEI Backupper Server.

Download Free TrialWindows Server & PC
Secure Download

1. Click Backup > Disk Backup on the main window. To only backup Windows Server OS, choose System Backup instead.

Disk Backup

aaa2. Rename the Task Nameto distinguish from other backups if required. Tap + Add Disk to choose your Windows Server hard disk to backup.

Add Disk

3. Choose a destination to save the Windows Server image backup. It can be an external disk, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, share, or NAS device. 

Select Backup Destination

4. Click Start backup button to create a Windows Server image backup.

Start Backup

FAQ About Windows Server Backup Incremental

Q: Why my Windows Server backup not performing incremental backup?

A: First, the “Configure performance settings” are not set correctly. Go to the right side of the WSB interface and check if it is set to “Always perform incremental backup”. Second, if you make a scheduled backup to network share in Windows Server 2008/2008 R2, it can only be performed by full backups. Last, if the last backup cannot be detected by WSB, it will create a full backup instead of an incremental backup.

Q: Is Windows Server Incremental Backup available in all versions of Windows Server?

A: Yes, Windows Server Incremental Backup is available in various versions of Windows Server, including Windows Server 2003 and later versions, such as Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019.

Q: Where should I store my incremental backups?

A: You can use multiple external storage drives for backups, and you can rotate the drives between onsite and offsite storage locations. This can improve your disaster preparedness planning by helping you recover your data if physical damage occurs to the hardware onsite. You can also store incremental backups on a network location.

Q: How does Incremental Backup differ from other backup methods?

Incremental Backup differs from full backups and differential backups. While full backups capture the entire dataset every time, incremental backups only save the changes made since the last backup. Differential backups, on the other hand, save changes made since the last full backup, not considering intermediate incremental backups.


Windows Server Incremental backup enhances efficiency and reduces storage requirements for server backups. This article offers built-in features and third-party software to help IT professionals and server administrators easily set up incremental backups on Windows Server. By following these steps, you can image Windows Server Incremental Backup to protect your data efficiently and reduce storage space usage. Remember to customize the backup location, schedule, and other settings according to your specific requirements.