By AOMEI / Last Updated March 9, 2021

Content of this article:

What is Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10?

Volume Shadow Copy is a feature available in Windows 10/8/7 that creates snapshots (shadow copies) of disk volumes, even when they are in use. You can create or store shadow copies on local disk, external hard drive or network drive.

Shadow Copy requires the NTFS file system to create and save shadow copies. Therefore, only NTFS volumes can be protected when you enable Shadow Copy technology in Windows Backup and Restore. The same is true for System Restore and File History.

You probably have more shadow copies than you know. Every time a system restore point is created, you will have a valid shadow copy. When your Windows 10 system does not work as it should, you can use system restore point to restore Windows 10 to previous version.

As mentioned, Shadow Copy maintains snapshots of the entire volumes, so you can also use shadow copies to recover deleted files besides restoring system. By default, System Protection is turned on for system drive (C: drive). You can manually use it to protect other volumes besides C: drive.

How to restore lost files using Windows 10 shadow copy ?

If you have shadow copies available on the drive on which the lost files were previous located, then you can easily use the Previous Versions to restore deleted files. If you don't create any shadow copy, you can chooose to enable volume shadow copy in Windows 10 first. 

For example, to restore some files that were saved on Desktop, you can try the following steps:

1. Locate the Desktop folder in File Explorer.

2. Right click on the Desktop folder and select Properties.

3. Navigate to Previous Versions tab, and then select the right version you want to restore and select Restore.

Windows 10 Shadow Copy Restore Deleted Files

‚ÄĘ If you cannot find the folder containing the lost files, you can find its parent folder and then restore it to the previous version.
‚ÄĘ If you forget where the deleted files located, then you can download the free tool Shadow Explorer to help you many shadow copies in a very convenient way.

Shadow Copy Explorer

How to delete shadow copies in Windows 10?

By default, Windows 10 allows you to take 5% of the volume space to store shadow copies and the shadow copies will be deleted if the Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10 has a high disk usage. Also, you can choose to manually delete it, either delete all shadow copies or delete all but the latest one. Please follow the steps below.

To delete all shadow copies:

1. Right click on This PC, then select Properties and System Protection. Or you can directly go to Control Panel > System and Security > System, then tap on System Protection in the System Properties window.

2. Click Configure.


3. In a new pop-up window, click Delete to delete all shadow copies.

It is recommended to delete all but the most recent shadow copies. To only save the most recent shadow copy, you can use the built-in utility Disk Cleanup.

Can volume shadow copy replace backups?

Windows 10 shadow copy can help you protect data or system in some cases, but it still cannot replace backup for a couple of reasons. 

1. The shadow copies are stored in the original volume, so if the volume crashes, no shadow copies are available.

2. Shadow copies may not be created regularly by the default settings.

3. Your valuable shadow copies may be deleted due to the Volume Shadow Copy Windows 10 high disk usage issue. 

4. Shadow copies may not correctly keep all the changes.

Therefore, if you want your system and data to be safe, you should create actual image backups besides shadow copies.

Free Windows 10 backup software to protect computer

AOMEI Backupper Standard is free all-in-one backup software for Windows 10/8/7 that provides System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup and File Backup. Thus, no matter you want to separately backup system, partition, files or the entire hard drive including system and files, you can use this software.

To always get your data backed up, it's wise to set up a scheduled backup task (eg: daily, weekly, monthly) to automatically create image backup. And the default backup type is incremental backups, which only backup the changed files since the first backup, thus saving backup time and disk space.

If you want a safer way, you could consider using differential backup, it's based on full backup and only backup the changed data. More so, you can use single full backup or one full backup plus any differential backup to restore. Note that the scheduled differential backup is a available on AOMEI Backupper Professional at least. 

Then, download free backup software AOMEI Backupper Standard and create an auto backup task with it. 

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

1. In the main interface of AOMEI Backupper Standard, click the Backup tab and select System Backup. If you want to backup entire hard drive, just select Disk Backup.

System Backup

2. In the System Backup screen, you can see system related partitions have been included automatically. Just click the folder shapped button and choose a location folder or drive to store the backup image. It is recommended to backup Windows 10 to external hard drive.

Backup Location

3. Then click Schedule to configure scheduled backup settings based on your preference. After that, click Start Backup to start the backup.

Schedule Settings

Compared with Windows Backup and Restore, AOMEI Backupper is super fast. It took me 4 minutes to backup 70GB of data on a SATA SSD. If you use NVME SSD, it will be even faster.

When the backup completes, you can create a bootable media in case serious issues. It gives you a chance to boot your PC from the AOMEI bootable media and restore system image to new hard drive when your system fails to boot.