From the Windows IT Pro Center documentation of the wbadmin start backup option -allCritical (italics by me):

Specifies that all critical volumes (volumes that contain operating system's state) be included in the backups. This parameter is useful if you are creating a backup for bare metal recovery. It should be used only when -backupTarget is specified, otherwise the command will fail. Can be used with the -include option. Tip: The target volume for a critical-volume backup can be a local drive, but it cannot be any of the volumes that are included in the backup.

Then there is the option -systemState:

For Windows°7 [sic] and Windows Server 2008 R2 and later, creates a backup that includes the system state in addition to any other items that you specified with the -include parameter. The system state contains boot files (Boot.ini, NDTLDR, NTDetect.com), the Windows Registry including COM settings, the SYSVOL (Group Policies and Logon Scripts), the Active Directory and NTDS.DIT on Domain Controllers and, if the certificates service is installed, the Certificate Store. If your server has the Web server role installed, the IIS Metadirectory will be included. If the server is part of a cluster, Cluster Service information will also be included.

Am I right to assume that -allCritical includes the data referenced by the option -systemState?


Yes, it does! As you can read on this Technet blog post by MSFT Jose Barreto.

Q) If I take an Allcritical Backup, can I perform a System State Recovery and create a IFM dump of my AD server with it?

A) Yes you can! There is no difference between a SSR or a IFM dump done from Allcritical or System State Backup. Allcritical Backup is basically a superset of a System State Backup.

Doing an Allcritical will be the smart move in most scenarios, since it will take less time in most cases, unless you have many non-OS-critical files on your server.

According to the same post there will be less IO and overhead:

Q) I am seeing that Allcritical backups are pretty faster than SSB’s why is that?

A) This is because Allcritical backups back up volumes at Block level , so the backing up happens below the file system layer and hence are faster than SSB’s which need to first identify all files to be backed up and then back them up individually one by one. This again is not true always , if for example you have a 150 GB hard disk with 10 GB system data another 130 GB of other data like photos , videos etc then the Allcritical backup will certainly take longer time for completion than SSB since the amount of data is much more.

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