Backing Up To Multiple Removable Drives in Windows 2008 R2

Productivity, Tips

These days, we use a dock that accepts SATA drives as a target for backing up client systems.  It allows for the most flexibility as data resources grow, easy swapping of media, etc.

However, Windows 2008 Server Backup doesn’t like this arrangement.  The wizard wants all targets present at the time of configuration.  Since we only have one dock (and a minimum of two drives), if we try to add additional hard drives to the job, the wizard fails with the error: “The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect” and the backup job is not modified.

Happily, Microsoft comes to the rescue with a KnowledgeBase article which outlines the three options:

  1. Reattach all disks (not an option in our situation)
  2. Delete the missing disk (not an option when there’s only one disk configured; you have to delete the whole job… plus, we *want* the missing disk to be part of the job since *all* disks except the one that’s connected will be missing)
  3. Do some command line voodoo.  (Bingo!)

So, the steps are:

  1. Find “Command Prompt” in the start menu and “Run as Administrator” from the right-click menu
  2. Get the drive ID of the disk we want to add to the job as we’ll need it for the next step:
    1. At the command prompt, type wbadmin get disks
    2. Each drive attached to the system will be listed; so find the removable disk and copy the long string of numbers (and the brackets) that make up the “Disk Identifier”  Copy this to the clipboard (using Mark, Paste from the Window menu… I use ALT+SPACE, E, M as a keyboard shortcut)
  3. At the command prompt, now type WBADMIN ENABLE BACKUP -addtarget:{PASTE-YOUR-DISK-ID-HERE} (I use the keyboard shortcut ALT+SPACE, E, P)
  4. You’ll get a one or a bunch of prompts (depending on if the drive is formatted for backups or not, if existing backups are present on the disk, etc.) which mimic the questions in the wizard about the disk, answer appropriately.
  5. Finally, make sure you answer Y to the question “Do you want to enable scheduled backups with the above settings?”

The script will finish running and eventually leave you back at a command prompt.  You can close the window.

Now, when you look at the Backup screen, you’ll see multiple targets in the DESTINATION settings, and the Destination Usage drop down will show the drive that’s connected PLUS the disconnected drive.

And we’re all set.

12 thoughts on “Backing Up To Multiple Removable Drives in Windows 2008 R2”

  1. Hi,

    Thanks for this. However, when I try the backup it always send the backup to the first drive, in my case an internal drive. The backup never uses the USB drive! Any ideas?


  2. Hi,

    Trouble is, I want to have the backup always go to the internal drive and to the currently attached USB drive. If I cannot do this then I will have to try and find an alternative.


  3. Hej Jeff,

    I have a similar Setup like you, but then a disk died. I replaced it, and now I have three disks in my Backup set. Do you have any idea how to REMOVE disks in this setup?

    I tried wbadmin and the power-shell snapin. No luck yet. -removetarget seems to be more picky than -addtarget.

    Any hint?


  4. Thanks for the Thread!
    This is how I managed to remove a backup target with the power shell after reading this thread – here is how to do it:
    1. Open Power shell as Admin

    2. add CMDLET:
    > add-pssnapin windows.serverbackup

    3. Policy read and make editable
    > $policy = GetWBPolicy -Editable

    4. Show Targets:
    > Get-WBBackupTarget -Policy $policy

    5. Store targets:
    > $backuplocations = Get-WBBackupTarget -Policy $policy

    6. Clear the [n]-th (from 0) Backuptargets from the list
    > Remove-WBBackupTarget -Policy $policy -Target $backuplocations[n]
    e.g. [0] for the first in the list

    7. Important: Close Backupsoftware window

    8. Activate modified Policy
    > Set-WBPolicy -Policy $policy
    (Needs some time. If you see an error message try plugging or unplugging one of the backup drives)

  5. Hi Jeff,

    Please delete my previous comment because there mail ID was wrong.

    I have windows 2008.
    I have install web drive and as FTP path via showing a Z: drive but why its not display with other partitions ?

    Any IDEA.

    Thanks / AA

  6. You do’t have to have all backup drives mounted, just the first drive used to configure the backup. You can tell this by opening Server Backup manager, it is the first one in the list on the bottom. As long as you have this drive connected you can add and remove drives with the Winsows Backup Manager byr running through the ”Backup Schedule’ on the right. As far as renaming, again you have to have the original drive mounted and then delete the volume being renamed, add it back and format it with the correct name. It’s been a while since I had to do that, but I do remember it being difficult to get the Backup Manager to format with the desired name, but it is possible. Hope that helps.

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