How to Create a Bootable USB for Windows Server

Microsoft Server Bootable USB

Keeping your server infrastructure up and running is unquestionably a task of utmost importance for any organization. And while image-based backups do a fine job of preserving data, sometimes they can't be restored fast enough, as emergency situations may require swift and immediate recovery. That's where a bootable USB drive can help. In this article we demonstrate how you can effortlessly create a bootable USB drive for Windows Server.

NB: This article contains two sections:

  1. Creating Bootable USB for Windows Server
  2. Restoring Windows Server from bootable USB


Bootable USB is a USB drive that contains a cut-down version of Windows with CloudBerry Backup and a number of other tools that can be used to boot a machine with no (or corrupt) OS. Having an image-based backup at hand along with a bootable USB will enable you to quickly restore your Windows Server on any hardware. This approach prevents you from being caught off guard in an emergency situation. The procedure for creating a bootable USB is identical for all supported versions of Windows Server:

  • Windows Server 2003 / Windows Server 2003 r2
  • Windows Server 2008 / Windows Server 2008 r2
  • Windows Server 2012 / Windows Server 2012 r2
  • Windows Server 2016

Before you proceed, ensure that you have an image-based backup in cloud or local storage. Only use USB drives that have at least 2 GB (8GB is recommended for Windows Server 2012 and later)  of storage.

Plug your USB drive into the computer where you want to create the bootable USB and launch CloudBerry Backup.

Creating Bootable USB for Windows Server

Step 1.  In CloudBerry Backup, click Make Bootable USB.

Step 1. Make Windows Server Bootable USB

This launches the bootable USB wizard. Here you can select whether you want to create the bootable USB (that's what we'll do) or whether you simply want to create an ISO image. You can optionally add CloudBerry Remote Assistant to the Recovery Disk. That option enables you or someone else who provides administration support to connect to the booted Windows Server. Specify a master password for extra security to prevent anyone unauthorized from using the USB disk.

The final step is to specify the path to specific Windows drivers. This step is optional and not be used unless you know which drivers are needed. As mentioned earlier, Windows Server 2003 may need AIK drivers. Newer versions of Windows may require the ADK drivers. You should only use these drivers if the tool fails to create a bootable USB without them.

Step 2. Once you complete entering all options, click Create Disk.
Setting master password for windows server bootable USB

The creation of bootable USB starts and usually takes no more than a few minutes, depending on speed of the USB drive.

Process of creating of recovery usb for Windows Server

Once complete, you have a fully functional, bootable USB and an image-based backup which you use to restore Windows Server on any hardware.

Restoring Windows Server from Bootable USB

Step 3. Restoring Windows Server from a bootable USB is fairly straightforward. Boot up the computer into Boot Manager with the USB stick plugged in. Select the USB Device and press Enter.

Boot from USB

Enter the master password you used when creating the bootable USB and press Enter.

CloudBerry BackUp boot menu

Click Bare Metal Recovery to launch CloudBerry Backup.

Bare metal recovery from bootable USB

Alternatively, you can launch the CloudBerry Remote Assistant by clicking on its icon in the upper, right-hand corner (provided that you selected this option when creating the bootable USB). You can use the Remote Assistant to give an authorized administrator or support personnel access to your computer.

Remote assistant for Bare Metal Recovery

In CloudBerry Backup, launch the Restore Wizard by clicking Restore on the main toolbar or utilizing the Ctrl+R shortcut.

Restore wizard for windows server

In the Restore Wizard, select or add the backup storage that contains the image-based backup. It's essential that the backup storage's backup prefix matches that of the backup itself.

Selecting restore source

Continue through the Restore Wizard steps.

Manual Restore for Windows Server recovery Selecting disk image

Selecting type of restore Selecting which partions from iamge to restore Select to which physical disk server image will be restored to

Complete configuring the image restore plan and execute. When the restore process completes, the OS will be fully restored.

windows server restoration process

Once completed, exit CloudBerry Backup and then exit the CloudBerry Boot Menu.

windows server recovery is complete

You return to the Boot Manager where you need to select your main hard drive which contains the freshly restored OS.

restored windows server is now ready to boot

Reboot the server and your Windows Server should boot up in the same state from the earlier backup.

restored windows server

This is how you create a bootable USB to quickly restore any version of Windows Server. If you have any questions as to working with bootable USB, feel free to let us know in the comments section below.

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