By Ailsa / Last Updated September 11, 2020

What is Shadow Copy?

Shadow Copy is a service for you to create backup copies or snapshots of computer files and volumes, and it also called Volume Shadow Copy service (known as VSS or snapshot) which is available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012 (R2), 2016, 2019. And there are two tools for shadow copy: DiskShadow and VssAdmin.

Sometimes, you might need to delete shadow copies (named restore point) to free up space in your Windows-based Computer, because these copies will take a lot of storage space, and cause the low disk space error.

Generally, these shadow copies located in C:/ partition and stored in System Volume Information folder (hidden by default), please run vssadmin list shadowstorage in CMD to find the shadow copies location.

Shadow Copy Location

Well, is it safe to delete these shadow copies, if your computer running well at this time, and ensure these backups that you don’t want to keep, it’s safe to delete, and create a new backup for you data. Then how to delete shadow copies in Windows 10?

Delete Older Shadow Copies via Disk Cleanup in Windows 10

1. Input Disk Cleanup in the Search box on taskbar, and hit enter to select Disk Cleanup.

2. Choose the drive or partition that you want to delete shadow copies, and hit OK.

Disk Cleanup Drive Selection

3. Click Clean up system files button, choose the partition again and press OK.

Clean Up System Files

4. Select More Options tab, hit Clean up… in the System Restore and Shadow Copies section.

More Options

5. Press Delete to delete all shadow copies but the most recent ones.

Delete Shadow Copies

Delete All Restore Point (Shadow Copies) with System Properties

1. Click Win + R key combination to open Run dialog.

2. Input SystemPropertiesProtection and hit enter.

3. Select a drive or partition you would like to delete all these shadow copies from, and then choose Configure.

System Properties Configure

4. Press Delete to delete all restore points from this drive or partition, and click Apply.

System Properties Delete

Or just Disable system protection in Restore Settings section (Not recommend), it will delete all existing restore points for you. Please note you could not perform system restore after disabling Shadow Copy. (If you want to enable shadow copy, select Turn on system protection.)

Delete Shadow Copies with CMD in Windows 10

Delete shadow Copies Use VssAdmin

As a part of Powershell, you could use VssAdmin to delete Shadow copies to free up space, here is the syntax:

vssadmin delete shadows /for=<ForVolumeSpec> [/oldest | /all | /shadow=<ShadowID>] [/quiet]

  • ForVolumeSpec: specify which volume’s shadow copy will be deleted.

  • /oldest: Delete the oldest shadow copy.

  • /all: Delete all of the specified volume’s shadow copies.

  • ShadowID: Delete the shadow copy by ShadowID (run vssadmin list shadows to get ShadowID).

  • /quiet: Specify no messages return after finishing the command.

For example: vssadmin delete shadows /for=c: /oldest

Vssadmin Delete Shadows Oldest

Resize Shadow Storage to Delete

Warning: This operation will delete all your restore points (shadow copies) on the specified volume.

VssAdmin will help you to modify the size of the shadow copy storage space, here is the Syntax:

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=<ForVolumeSpec> /on=<OnVolumeSpec> [/maxsize=<MaxSizeSpec>]

  • ForVolumeSpec: Specifies the volume for which the maximum amount of storage space is to be resized.

  • OnVolumeSpec: Specifies the volume storage.

  • Maxsize: Should be 1MB or greater and accepts the following suffixes: KB, MB, GB, TB, PB and FB. Or you could use percentage with “%” to define. If a suffix is not supplied, then is in bytes.

There is how to run this command:

1. Input cmd in Search box.

2. Right click the Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator.

3. Then input the command for example:

vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /Maxsize=900MB

Vssadmin Resize Shadow Storage

Easier Way to Delete Backup Copies

The professional Windows backup software – AOMEI Backupper Professional (paid version) will help you out. If you backup data with AOMEI Backupper, you could configure how many backups to retain. First of all, please download AOMEI Backupper Professional.

Then follow the steps, here is how to configure (take disk backup for example):

1. Open AOMEI Backupper Professional, select Backup -> Disk Backup.

Disk Backup

2. Rename the Task Name if needed, and then click Add Disk button to choose the hard drive you want to backup.

Add Disk

3. Choose a destination to save the disk backup image file.

Select Destination

4. Tick Scheme at the bottom of the interface, turn on Enable Backup Scheme, choose a scheme that you want to backup (here is Differential Backup Scheme), specify the number of backups to retain, click OK.

Enable Backup Scheme

Tips:

  • Apart from Differential Backup Scheme, there are four options provided: Full Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Space Management Scheme, and Other Backup Scheme.

  • Options: It allows you comment, split, compress the backup task, enable encryption for backups, and even enable the email notification after completed, choose backup mode, etc.

  • Schedule: you could set up a backup task via daily, weekly, monthly, event trigger, USB plug in.

5. Press Start Backup to create Windows 10 disk backup.

Start Backup Scheme

Wait for a moment, the cost time depends on the data size on your hard drive. If you created a scheduled backup for a while, you will get several backups for this task, when the number of backups exceed the retain number, the oldest backup will be automatically deleted to free up space for your current computer.

Conclusion

How to delete shadow copies in Windows 10/8/7? It's quite easy with the 4 solutions. And if you would like to create backup tasks and delete backups automatically, AOMEI Backupper is the best solution. After creating backup tasks, you could restore backup to dissimilar hardware computer if required, or restore selective files, and AOMEI Backupper provides other advanced tools for you, like create bootable media, AOMEI PXE boot tool, etc. For IT technicians, you could try AOMEI Backupper Technician (For PCs) or Technician Plus (for PCs & Servers).