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What I'm looking for, is info on what is contained in the server 2008 system state backup. It is incredibly large (10+ G), and annoying to backup remotely. is there a way to take a full system state, and then do like a weekly incremental?

I know the wbadmin tool, but its options are limited.

I'm also looking for the option to remove the 2nd or 3rd oldest backup.

Thanks for the updates. I have a few other questions:

1) How does everyone deal with backing up the system state for server 2008? What is your procedure?

2) We deal with over 100 separate networks, all with different configurations (hardware, OS, network, etc) and some servers have additional physical drives, and some do not. If what Jim said/linked is correct, and it has to be a local drive to avoid backing up the 10G of system state, are there any ways around this? I've heard you can edit the registry and allow wbadmin to backup the system state to the same drive, but I don't want that to be our workaround. Also, if it doesn't allow the incremental backup to a USB drive, I really don't want every system state to be appx 10G, and then try and uploading that offsite every time.

Thanks for the help everyone!

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

My wbadmin backup is also 10Gig on Windows 2008 64 bit. Tom's list short a few things i.e. the .NET framework files (on 64 bit also the 32 bit .NET FW files, which helps getting to 10G) and task scheduler files. This MSDN link (and this one) may help. Note also that some new Win 2008 based Domain Controllers will run DFSR instead of FRS, so it needs to be considered in the equation also.

Wbadmin makes use of the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to do the system state backup. It basically takes a VSS snapshot and gathers all the files together in a VHD file. There will be backup solutions out there that offer VSS based system state backups that will do the same as wbadmin but give incremental functionality and even Single instance storage e.g. Attix5. Most of the system state files really does not change very often like all the driver files, so you should get a huge drop in backup size after a full backup was done initially.

If you feel strong you can probably look into a tool that can extract files from VHD files or mount VHD files as windows drives and the use some backup tool to backup the exposed files.

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Extracting files from a windows backup seems like a risky thing. Have you heard of anyone doing this? – MJ. Mar 25 '10 at 14:05
Thats why I said "If you feel strong" :-). But the VHD format is an open format and its a virtual-hard drive. See So that reduces the risk I would think. I've seen backup solutions generating VHD files, so the extracting/recreating it is probably out there also but will require some research unfortunately. – Hannes de Jager Mar 26 '10 at 15:43

The system state components on a domain controller include the following:
System startup (boot) files. These files are required for Windows Server 2003 to start.
System registry
Class registration database of component services. The Component Object Model (COM) is a binary standard for writing component software in a distributed systems environment.
System volume (SYSVOL). SYSVOL provides a default location for files that must be shared for common access throughout a domain. The SYSVOL folder on a domain controller contains the following:
Net Logon shared folders. These folders usually host user logon scripts and policy settings for network clients that are running pre–Windows 2000 operating systems.
User logon scripts for Active Directory–enabled clients
System policies
Group Policy settings
File system junctions
File Replication service (FRS) staging directories and files that are required to be available and synchronized between domain controllers
Active Directory, including the following:
The Active Directory database (Ntds.dit)
The checkpoint file (Edb.chk)
The transaction logs, each 10 megabytes (MB) in size (Edb*.log)
Reserved transaction logs (Res1.log and Res2.log)

I dont know of a way to do incrementals of the system state Are you sure it's 10+ G, thats really large, I think either something else is backing up too, something is corrupted, or you have one huge network.

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See this technet article for an overview of windows backup. It already does what you are asking it to do. What's likely happening is that you are backup up to a network location rather than backing up to local disk and copying that to a network location. When backup up t a network location previous backups get overwritten (which makes every backup a full). Try creating a powershell script to run the backups you want and when complete copy (not move) the backup to a network location of your choice.

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From what you said, does backing the system state to a external USB drive trigger the same thing as backing it up to a network drive? IE full backup, rather than incremental? – MJ. Mar 25 '10 at 14:04

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