System state backups are useful because they back up the system registry, Active Directory, COM+ database, SysVol, Certificate Services, and IIS metabase. It is important to note that system state backups should not be relied on for re-imaging of servers that experience hardware failures; this is due to a Microsoft limitation where system states are only meant to be restored back to the same machine or one with identical hardware. With this in mind, here is how you can set up a system state backup set.
Before you begin, there are two prerequisites to using the system state plugin. If the machine you are backing up is Windows Server 2008 or later, you must have Windows Server Backup installed. Directions for installing that are here. In addition, you will need a storage location to use as a "scratch drive" to temporarily house the system state files during the backup.
This scratch drive must meet the requirements listed under "Choosing a storage location" and it is recommended the scratch drive have at least 30-40 GB of free space. In addition, for Windows Server 2008 and later, the scratch drive cannot be a "critical volume" or one which contains files or programs the operating system uses.
Once you have these two prerequisites met, you can move on to making the system state backup set.
Creating a System State Backup Set
Log into the management portal, then go to the computer account for which you want to add the system state backup set.
Go to the Backup tab and click on the Add Backup Set button; this will open the Create Backup Set wizard.
Select System State from the left-hand side, give a name to the backup set, and choose a backup destination. Then, hit Next.
Set a schedule for the system state backups to run on. Generally, you don't need to have the system states run more than once a week. When you are finished setting the backup schedule, press Next.
On the Settings page, you will set the archiving rules (how many backups you want to keep), pick a temporary folder location, and choose your scratch drive. You will need about as much temporary space as is taken up by the system state on the scratch drive.
Click Next when you are done.
The final page provides you with a summary of the backup set you have just configured. Click Create to finalize the backup set.