By Ivy / Last Updated May 25, 2020

What is Volume Shadow Copy?

Volume Shadow Copy (also known as Volume Snapshot Service or VSS ) is a technology included in Microsoft Windows. It allows you to take backup copies or snapshots of computer files or volumes whether in use or not. It requires VSS service, VSS requester, VSS writer, VSS provider during the process. And you can do it manually or automatically.

Shadow Copies can be created on local and external volume by Windows component that uses VSS technology. In Windows 7, you can create a shadow copy via Backup and Restore, System Restore points. In Windows 8/10, you can use file history feature.

Shadow copies also give you a chance to restore deleted files or folders. In Windows 7, you can use the Previous Versions tab. But it was removed for local volumes since Windows 8. So, In Windows 8/8.1/10, you can choose to use ShadowExplorer, which allows you to look through the old shadow copies and restore files.

How to enable Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10/8/7?

Method 1: Enable Volume Shadow Copy using system restore points

Step 1. Type system restore in the search box, then select Create a restore point.

Step 2. Select a drive and click Configure.


Step 3. Tick Restore system settings and previous versions of files. After that, click Apply.

Enable System Restore

Step 4. Click Create to enable the volume shadow copy. After it's created, you can click OK to exit this window.


Method 2: Turn on Volume Shadow Copy using task scheduler

If you want to customize a volume shadow copy in Windows 10, you can use Task Scheduler. It’s more accurate. You can select a specific time to create a shadow copy.

Step 1. Open Task Scheduler. You can click Start, type task scheduler and select it from the list.

Step 2. Click Create Task and specify a name for the task (eg: ShadowCopy).

Create Task

Step 3. Create a new trigger. You can click the Trigger tab and New option in this interface, then select settings.

New Trigger

Step 4. Enable shadow copy. You can click the Actions tab and New option, type vmic under the Program or script option, input shadowcopy call create Volume=C:\ at the right side of the Add argument option.

Enable Shadow Copy

When you run program items using VSS technology, you may receive volume shadow copy error in Windows 10.

In this case, you should go to Services and check if the Volume Shadow Copy service is started at first time. Once it stops, the volume shadow copy service is not working in Windows 10 and the program will fail to create a snapshot for your volume.

There Are No Previous Versions Available

How to disable Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10/8/7?

Step 1. Go to System Properties window, select a drive and click Configure.

Step 2. In the Restore settings section, tick Disable system protection and click Apply and OK to exit this window.

Disable Shadow Copy

How to restore deleted files or folders via Shadow Copy?

Method 1: Using Windows Restore Previous Versions feature in Windows 7

Step 1. Select the file or folder you want to restore in a previous state. You can navigate to the file or folder and right-click it.

Step 2. Select Restore Previous Versions from the drop-down menu. In addition, you still can select Properties and click the Previous Versions tab.

Restore Previous Veresion

Step 3. Select the version of file or folder to restore.

In this window, you can see 3 options, including Open, Copy, Restore.

  • Open button allows you to view the content of file or folder.

  • Copy button allows you to copy file or folder to another location on the computer, even on external hard drive.

  • Restore button gives you a chance to restore the file or folder to the same location and replace the existing version.


Sometimes, you will receive a message like there are no previous versions available. One of the possible reasons is that the volume shadow service is disabled. You can manually enable it in task manager.

There Are No Previous Versions Available

The detailed steps: right-click taskbar> select Start Task Manager > click services at the bottom > find Volume Shadow Copy and double-click it > set the startup type as Automatic > click Apply to make it available.

Method 2: Turn off Volume Shadow Copy using shadow explorer in Windows 8/10

Step 1. Download ShadowExplorer utility, install and launch it.

Step 2. Select the drive and date to restore file or folder.

Step 3. Select the file or folder to restore its previous version. You can right-click it and pitch on Export option.


Step 4. Specify the location to save the previous version of file or folder. Wait and check the previous file or folder.

Can Volume Shadow Copy replace backup?

As mentioned above, volume shadow copy can create a snapshot of your computer files or volume. It’s very similar to backup, but can volume shadow copy replace backup?

No, it cannot. In general, the shadow copies are stored in the original volume and it will not work if the volume crashes. It it cannot keep all the changed files correctly. More so, it may be deleted without when the volume shadow copy in Windows has high disk usage.

A backup can be stored to any device, such as, external hard drive,flash drive, cloud drive (eg: Google Drive, OneDrive), NAS, etc, so it will be much safer. A proper backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard can help you create a differential backup or incremental backup, which can keep all the changed files to the target drive. Speaking of managing disk space, AOMEI Backkupper can help you delete old backup, keep the latest backup.

This shows, compared with Volume Shadow Copy, a backup will be a better choice. And you can use AOMEI Backupper Standard, which is free and easy to use. With it, you can backup files without effort. You can choose to backup large files, backup specific folders in Windows 10, backup large amount of data, etc.

Also, you can restore files from backup at any time, even from system backup or disk backup. This software can support various operating system, including Windows 7/8/10. You do not need to restore backup with extra software.

The detailed steps:

Step 1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper.

Step 2. Select backup type. You can click Backup and File Backup.

File Backup

Step 3. Select files or folders to backup. You can click Add File or Add Folder, pitch on a path and select file from the specified folder.

Add File or Add Folder

Step 4. Select a path to save the files and folders.

Select Destination

Step 5. Set up settings if needed.

Schedule Settings

Step 6. Click Start Backup to run the pending operation.

Wrapping things up

Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10/8/7 is a Windows Service, which can help you backup files and folders. It also gives you an option to restore files. But, sometimes, the Volume Shadow Copy is not working in Windows.

Volume Shadow Copy is similar to backup software, but the latter can do more for you. It supports differential or incremental backup, backup scheme, all kinds of backup device, including external hard drive, flash drive, Google drive, Seagate NAS, etc. Also, most backup software is also a restore software, which can help you restore your files or computer with backup image.

For backup and restore software, you can consider AOMEI Backupper Standard, which can create file backup, system backup, disk backup, file restore, etc. With it, you can complete all the backup and restore process without the help of extra software. It’s amazing.

If you want to protect unlimited computers within your company, you can pick AOMEI Backupper Technician. With the inbuilt AOMEI Image Deploy tool, you are also allowed to deploy/restore system image on server-side computer to multiple client-side computers over network.