Let Windows Server Backup Delete Old Backups Automatically

May 17, 2019

This article presents how to delete old backups in Windows Server 2003/2008/2012/2016/2019 and introduces an easier way to auto delete old copies for Server operating systems.

About Windows Server Backup utility you’re using

As a replacement of Ntbackup backup tool in earlier versions of Windows Server, Windows Server Backup (WSB) was first introduced in Windows Server 2008. It can back up a full server, the system state, and volumes. In Windows Server 2008 R2 or latter versions, Microsoft has added new functionalities.

You can include specific files or folders in a backup, you can let Windows Server Backup delete old backups automatically, and you can create faster and smaller incremental backups. Windows Server Backup is available from graphic users interface (GUI) or command line.

Does Windows Server Backup delete old backups?

By default, Windows Server Backup will automatically delete the old backups to free up more space when it detects that there is insufficient space for new backups. Before a backup is in progress, Windows Server Backup will allocate a storage space for creating snapshots. When the next scheduled backup is triggered, it will shrink the space allocated for snapshots, and delete the old backups and the corresponding snapshots.

However, when you cannot get enough space by shrinking the located space for snapshot, the backup will fail with a message saying that target drive is out of disk space, i.e. Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups, because Windows thinks that you don’t want to lose all the old backups to create a new one.

In this case, you need to manually delete old backups from command line. You can use "wbadmin delete systemstatebackup" in command prompt (for detailed steps, please refer to wbadmin delete backup). Windows Server backup does not allow you to delete other kinds of backups, but you can delete the shadow copies as a workaround.

Therefore, the Windows Server Backup disk space management isn’t as perfect as it looks. Is there a more reasonable way to automatically delete old backups?

More flexible way to make Windows Server delete old copies automatically

AOMEI Backupper Server is a powerful backup and restore tool designed for Windows Server in particular. It can be used for backing up system, disks, partitions, files and folders with more flexible options. After a scheduled full/incremental/differential backup is configured, you can enable its Disk Space Management to automatically delete the previous image backups as you like.

To enhance the recovery ability, the software allows creating bootable media like bootable USB drive or CD/DVD disc. Thus, backing up hard drive without booting Windows is available. Also, restoring system when Server fails to boot is doable.

To backup Server with Disk Space Management enabled:

1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Server.

2. Under “Backup” tab, select a type of backup. Let’s take System Backup as an example.

System Backup

3. It will automatically include the system partition in the backup. Choose a target location to save the image backup.

Destination Location

4. Click “Schedule” beneath to set a schedule for the backup task. You can set the backup to run monthly, weekly, daily, or more frequently, or when some special event triggers, or when USB plugged in. Under Advanced tab, you can choose to run full/incremental/differential backups.

Schedule Settings

5. Click the Scheme option to enable Disk Space Management. It provides 5 types of scheme to delete old backups.

Backup Scheme

6. Click Start Backup to add this schedule or run it as once.

Start Backup

Tips:

  • Backup Options: enable password protection, split or compress backup image, enable email notification, switch VSS backup here.

  • To restore backup images in the future, please go Restore tab.

  • To make bootable media, please go Utilities > Create Bootable Media.

Final words

Windows Server Backup deletes old backups automatically yet may fail when it has deleted many backups. With the Disk Space Management of AOMEI Backupper, you can put your mind at easy without worrying about running out of target space. Besides, AOMEI Backupper can also be used to clone hard drive or migrate only OS to SSD in the event of upgrading hard drive.

If you want to protect unlimited PCs and servers within your company, you may choose AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus. It offers unlimited billable technical services to clients. It also enables you to copy installation directory for portable version creation.