What is VSS Backup and How to Create One?

If you want to learn more about VSS backup, continue to read below and learn what it means, how it works, and the top 3 ways to create VSS copy backup.


By Ivy Updated on December 13, 2023

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What is VSS backup?

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

So the VSS backup is also called Volume Shadow Copy Service-based backup, or shadow copies, which is a Windows service that captures and creates snapshots at a time point.

How does Microsoft VSS Backup work?

You may know the Microsoft VSS backup requires the Volume Shadow Copy Service, but it's not clear exactly how it works. It consists of the following 4 basic parts:

  • VSS service: It is used to help other components in the Windows operating system to communicate with each other and work together. 
  • VSS requester: It is typically a backup program, such as Backup and Restore (Windows 7), and has the ability to create shadow copies or import or delete them. 
  • VSS writer: It is to guarantee data consistency during the backup process and the VSS writers for various Windows components, such as registry, are included with Windows operating systems. 
  • VSS provider: It is to create and maintain the shadow copies, and occurs in the software, such as Backup and Restore (Windows 7), or hardware. The previous one uses copy-on-write and the latter one with SAN (storage area network) offloads this task from the host operating system.

For more details, please refers to the Microsoft document.

Process a VSS copy backup with Backup and Restore (Windows 7)

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. By default, this service is enabled, so you don't need to do extra steps. But if you are not sure, you can check it in the Service. 

Click on Start, type services, and press enter to open the Services window. Roll down the mouse, locate the service "Volume Shadow Copy", if its startup type shows Manual, right-click it, and select "Start" from the drop-down menu.

Local Service

After ensuring the Volume Shadow Copy Service is running, you can then follow the steps below and create create a backup under VSS with Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

1. Open Backup and Restore (Windows 7) by clicking the Start button, then clicking Control Panel, System and Maintenance, and Backup and restore (Windows 7).

2. Click Set up backup.

Set Up Backup

3. Select where you want to save your backup and click “Next”.

4. Select Let Windows choose or Let me choose and click “Next”. By default, it will include a system image if you don't uncheck the checkbox below. 

Choose Backup Files

5. Here you can review your backup settings, confirm it and click Save settings and run backup.

Note: The Shadow Copy technology requires the file system to be NTFS in order to create and store shadow copies. You need to convert FAT/FAT32 to NTFS if it is not.

Create a VSS full backup with AOMEI Backupper Standard🔥

Sometimes, when you backup with Windows built-in tool but failed, you may receive a Windows backup failed to read from the shadow copy or VSS insufficient storage error. If you are in such situations, you can choose to create a VSS full backup with professional third-party shadow copy backup software. 

AOMEI Backupper Standard is such software. It is not only embedded with Microsoft VSS technology but also provides a self-developed VSS backup service. If the Microsoft VSS is not working, it will use AOMEI Backup Service instead, so you don't need to worry about the backup failed due to VSS errors. And it is totally free and more flexible for backup task.

It allows you to create system backup, disk backup, partition backupfile backup or cloud backup. The last one allows you to backup files to AOMEI Cloud and offers you 1TB of free cloud storage in 15 days after you register an AOMEI account.
It helps you schedule a backup task daily, weekly, or monthly. By default, this software will enable incremental backup to backup only changed files since last backup and it can be a full backup or incremental backup. 
It supports multiple backup destinations, such as, external hard drive, USB drive, network drive, NAS, cloud drive, etc.

Please download VSS backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard and follow the steps below to create a Microsoft VSS backup or use AOMEI Backup Service. For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server!

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Take hard drive backup as an example.

1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard. Click Disk Backup under the Backup tab.

Disk Backup

2. Click Add Disk to select the disk you need to back up and then select a location to save the disk backup. You can backup disk to any recognized devices, such as, external disk, USB network drive, NAS, etc.

Disk Backup

3. Click Options > Backup Mode > Backup Service > Use Microsoft VSS or AOMEI Backup Service and click OK to confirm it. By default, this software use Microsoft VSS, if it is not working, it will automatically use AOMEI Backup Service to guarantee the data is consistent.  

VSS Backup

You can also set other backup settings:

  • Options: You can enable encryption for backups, email notifications, select compression level for a backup, etc.
  • Schedule Backup: You are capable of running a backup task automatically with different frequencies, such as, daily, weekly, or monthly. The Event triggers and USB plug-in features are available in AOMEI Backupper Professional.
  • Backup Scheme: You are able to choose incremental backup or differential backup, honestly, the latter one is relatively independent and easy to manage. And you can enable cleanup methods to automatically delete old backups and free up more space for new backups.

4. After all this is done, click Start Backup to create shadow copy backup in Windows systems.

Start Backup

Besides, AOMEI Backupper is also an amazing image restore or deployment software. With images created by this software, you can easily restore system, disk, partition, files to new hard drive or partition.

If it is a system disk, you can even use it to perform dissimilar hardware restore or deploy image to multiple computers over network. These features are available on the advanced edition. Please learn more in the edition comparison page and select a proper edition.

Set up a VSS backup with AOMEI Cyber Backup👍

Besides AOMEI Backupper, the best enterprise backup software - AOMEI Cyber Backup can also help you with VSS backup. It provides a convenient and reliable solution for centralized backup management of all Windows operating systems.

  • It enables you to create system/disk/partition backup for a bunch of Windows PCs and Servers, supporting Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 and Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012 (R2)/2008 (R2).
  • You are allowed to save backup images on a local disk, external hard drive, network share or NAS device, etc.
  • You can schedule a backup task to run daily/weekly/monthly using the full/incremental/differential backup method.

Don’t hesitate to download this powerful enterprise backup software and try it now!

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To backup hard drives on client computers, follow these steps:

1. Install and run AOMEI Cyber Backup. Log in with AOMEI Cyber Backup account or Windows account.

2. Click Source Device Windows Add Windows Device to add the Windows device that you want to backup. You need to enter the IP address, username and password of it.

3. Create a disk backup task.

  • Click Backup Task on the left menu bar and select Backup Task Create New Task.
  • Choose Disk Backup as the Backup Type.

Select Backup Type

  • Edit Task Name based on your need.
  • In the Device Name field, click Select + to select the device you just added.
  • In the Backup content field, click Select + to select one or multiple disks for backup.

Select Backup Disk

  • In the Target field, click Select + to add a local or network storage.

Choose Backup Target

  • Change the default schedule settings in the Schedule field.
  • Click Start Backup Add the schedule and start backup now to begin creating disk image.


Now, you have a basic knowledge of VSS backup and know how to create a backup under VSS easily to ensure data consistency. The built-in software is worth trying if the Volume Shadow Copy Service is running well, and you can also use third-party VSS backup software - AOMEI Backupper Standard or AOMEI Cyber Backup.

It adds an extra layer of backup task security, you don't need to worry about the backup failed due VSS error. Because it will automatically use AOMEI Backup Service to ensure the backup task running without interrupting when Microsoft VSS does not work. If you just want to create an exact copy of hard drive, try the Disk Clone feature and migrate system from HDD to SSD.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.