Recovery plan

How to use wbAdmin to create a Windows 10 system image backup

You can use the wbAdmin command tool to make a system image backup on Windows 10, and in this guide, you'll learn the steps on how to use the tool.

wbAdmin command-line utility for Windows 10

On Windows 10, a full backup is an essential part of any recovery plan in case of hardware or system failure, viruses, or any other type of malware.

Although you can use third-party solutions, such as Macrium Reflect, or the built-in system image utility from Control Panel, Windows 10 also includes wbAdmin, which is a command tool that allows you to backup and restore your OS installation, volumes, files, folders, and apps using Command Prompt.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to create a full backup of your computer using wbAdmin with Command Prompt on Windows 10.

How to create full backup using wbAdmin on Windows 10

To use wbAdmin with Command Prompt to create a full backup on Windows 10, connect a storage with enough space, and then use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to use wbAdmin to backup your device and press Enter:

    wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:D: -include:C: -allCritical -quiet
    wbAdmin command on Windows 10
    wbAdmin command on Windows 10

    In the above command, make sure to D in the -backupTarget flag with the drive letter for the storage that you want to use for the backup.

  4. (Optional) Type the following command to create a full backup that includes all the drives connected to your device and press Enter:

    wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:D: -include:C:,E:,F: -allCritical -quiet

    In the command, replace the drive letters on flag -include:C:,E:,F: with letters that reflect the hard drives in your computer.


    (Optional) Type the following command to create a backup of your device to a shared network folder and press Enter:

    wbAdmin start backup -backupTarget:\\sharedFolder\folderName -user:username -password:userPassword -include:C: -allCritical -quiet

    In the command, make sure to replace the network path, and the username and password with the information that correspond to your environment.

Once you complete the steps, a backup of Windows 10, settings, apps, and files will be created in the external storage that you specified. The time to complete the process will vary upon all the data that needs to be backed up and other variables, and the wbAdmin utility will save the image backup inside the WindowsImageBackup folder in the target drive.

How the wbAdmin backup commands work on Windows 10

Let’s step back and look at the command you’re using. The wbAdmin start backup command starts a one-time backup on your computer. The -backupTarget:D: option tells wbAdmin where you want to save the image backup — in this case, we configured the command to save everything on the drive with letter “D,” which may be different on your computer.

The -include:C: tells the utility to make an image backup of your computer main partition that stores the OS, settings, apps, and on most cases personal files.

Then there’s the -allCritical option that makes sure to include all the values inside of the hard drive, and the -quiet switch runs the entire backup without prompting the users for extra input.

How to restore full backup on Windows 10

Use these steps to restore a backup that you previously created using wbAdmin:

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on Update & Security.

  3. Click on Recovery.

  4. Under the “Advanced startup” section, click the Restart now button.

    Advanced startup settings on Windows 10
    Advanced startup settings on Windows 10
    Quick tip: If your device isn’t working correctly, you can use these steps to access Advanced startup settings on Windows 10.
  5. Click on Troubleshoot.

    Advances startup settings
    Advances startup settings
  6. Click on Advanced options.

    Troubleshoot settings
    Troubleshoot settings
  7. Click the See more recovery options link (if applicable).

    See more recovery options on Windows 10 Advanced startup
    See more recovery options on Windows 10 Advanced startup
  8. Click on System Image Recovery.

    Advanced options for recovery
    Advanced options for recovery
  9. Select your account from the list after reboot.

  10. Type your account password.

  11. Click the Continue button.

  12. The latest system image backup will select automatically for recovery, but you can also use the Select a system image option to specify another backup.

    Windows 10 System Image Backup recovery

  13. Click the Next button.

  14. Click the Next button again.

  15. Click the Finish button.

    Re-image your computer wizard in Windows 10

After you complete the steps, the wizard will apply the full backup on your device restoring the OS installation, settings, apps, and files since the last backup was created.

While it’s still possible to create a full backup on Windows 10, Microsoft is moving away from backup tools in favor of other solutions, such as OneDrive to protect your files, and recovery options like “Reset this PC,” “Fresh start,” or full reinstallation to fix problems with Windows 10.

Update June 24, 2019: This guide was originally published in February 2016, and it’s revised for the latest version of Windows 10.