By Ivy / Last update September 11, 2020

What is VSS backup?

VSS (Volume Shadow Copy) is also known as Volume Snapshot Service. It is a technology included in Microsoft Windows. It allows you to take manual or automatic backup copies or snapshots of computer files or volumes, even when they are in use.

A Volume Shadow Copy Service-based backup (VSS backup) is a Windows service that captures and creates snapshots called shadow copies.

Process a backup under VSS with Windows built-in tool

Volume Shadow Copy is implemented as a Windows service called the Volume Shadow Copy service. It manages and implements Volume Shadow Copies used for backup and other purposes. If this service is stopped, shadow copies will be unavailable for backup and the backup may fail. Therefore, to process a backup under VSS, you need to enable Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10/8/7 first.

Enable Volume Shadow Copy Windows 10/8/7

To enable Volume Shadow Copy Windows 10/8/7, click on Start, type services and press enter.

Roll down the mouse and Locate the service "Volume Shadow Copy". Right click it and then click "Start".

Local Service

At last, close Services windows.

Create a vss backup with Windows built-in tool

After configuring Shadow Copy in Microsoft Windows, you can create a backup without interrupting your work. Let’s see how to create a backup under VSS with Windows built-in tool.

1. Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button, then clicking Control Panel, System and Maintenance, and Backup and restore.

Backup and Restore

2. Click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard to select where you want to save your backup and click “Next”.

Set up Backup

3. In the next pop-out window, what do you want to backup? There are two options: let Windows choose and Let me choose. Choose one and click Next.

Location of Backup

4. Here you come to review your backup settings. Then, click Save settings and run backup.

Note: Shadow Copy technology requires the file system to be NTFS in order to create and store shadow copies. You can convert FAT to NTFS with AOMEI Partition Assistant if needed.

Create a backup with a AOMEI Backupper

Sometimes, when you backup with Windows built-in tool but failed, you may receive Windows backup failed to read from the shadow copy error or VSS insufficient storage error, you can have an alternative way to backup your computer with VSS technology.

VSS backup software

AOMEI Backupper Standard is a professional VSS backup software. It has embedded with VSS technology. You can set up VSS in Backup Setting while creating a backup. It allows you to create system backup, disk backup, partition backup and file and folder backup. You can create backup to external hard drive and internal hard drive. The best part is it is free to use.

Create a backup with AOMEI Backupper

Take hard drive backup as an example.

Step 1: Download AOMEI Backupper and open the software. Click disk backup under the Backup tab.

Step 2: Click Add disk to select the disk you need to backup. Then, click to select a location to save the backup.

Disk Backup

Step 3: Click Options to set up advanced settings. Click Backup Mode > Backup Service > Use Microsoft VSS. It uses VSS provided by Microsoft by default. If you do not use VSS, the program will automatically use AOMEI’s built-in technology in order to backup without interrupting and restarting the computer.

VSS Backup

Tips: There are still some other settings you can set up. For example: click general to enable encryption for backups and enable email notification. Click compression to choose the compression level for a backup.

Schedule: it allows you to set automatically backup with five modes, namely daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers and USB plug in. Click Advanced to set incremental and differential backup.

Scheme: it enables you to manage disk space. It can automatically delete old backups and keep the latest versions of the backup image file. Noticed that this feature is only available in paid version.

Step 4: After all this done, click Start Backup and wait for the process finished.


Now, you have learned what VSS backup is and how to process a VSS-based backup with two ways. It occurs to me, AOMEI Backupper has more powerful features than Windows built-in tool. If your VSS provided by Microsoft cannot be used due to some reason, you can still have a backup plan, that is to use AOMEI’s built-in technology to backup without interrupting.

AOMEI Backupper is also an amazing restore and disk cloning software. With images created by AOMEI, you can easily restore system, partition, disk to previous state. Migrating Windows from HDD to SSD is also an easy operation with disk clone feature. It supports all Windows system including Windows 7/8/10/XP/Visa.