How to Use Windows 11 Shadow Copy Correctly

Things you need to know about how to use Windows 11 shadow copy correctly are here, follow if you don’t know how.


By Maggie Updated on March 8, 2024

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What is Shadow Copy in Windows 11?

Effective execution of backup and restore processes necessitates seamless collaboration among backup applications, line-of-business applications, and storage management systems. To facilitate this coordination and optimize their integration, the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) was introduced in Windows Server 2003.

VSS serves as a conduit, enabling efficient communication between these components, thereby enabling the backup of application data without disrupting their online functionality. When all the involved elements support VSS Windows 11, you can leverage its capabilities to perform backups while keeping your applications accessible and operational.


Windows 11 Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) offers more than just creating backups for application data. It encompasses additional functionalities, including:
✪Restoration of LUNs: VSS allows for the restoration of Logical Unit Numbers (LUNs), including the ability to swap and resynchronize them.
✪Data mining with transportable shadow copies: VSS facilitates data mining operations by leveraging transportable shadow copies. These copies provide a convenient means to access and extract data for analysis purposes, contributing to enhanced data management and decision-making processes.
✪Restoration of individual files from shared folders: VSS enables the restoration of individual files that are associated with shadow copies related to shared folders.


Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) provides the ability to create access and copies of files even when they are in use, locked, or open. This functionality ensures that you can work with files without any interruption or conflict.
With VSS, you can make modifications to shadow copies without impeding your ongoing work. This means you can access and copy files from the shadow copies while maintaining the integrity and availability of the original files.


✪Storage footprint: each created copy of an image takes up a certain amount of storage space. Over time, these copies may take up a significant amount of disk space, which may result in a disk space crunch and may require periodic management of the copies to free up space.
✪May affect system performance: causing delays in file operations or slower system response.
✪Not available for all file systems: Shadow Copy is primarily available for NTFS file systems. Other file systems, such as FAT32, may not support Shadow Copy.
✪Cannot protect system files: Shadow Copy is primarily used to recover user files and folders, not system files. As a result, Shadow Copy may not provide full system recovery in the event of a system crash or major failure.
✪Not a replacement for a full backup solution: Shadow Copy is primarily focused on file and folder level recovery, while a full backup solution can provide a more comprehensive system and data backup, including system state, settings, applications, etc. 

How to use shadow copy in Windows 11 correctly

Here is a full and detailed guide for you to enable volume shadow copy Windows 11 and use it to backup files correctly.

How do you enable Shadow Copy in Windows 11?

To enable VSS Windows 11 do the following.

▸To enable the shadow copy, which will allocate a certain amount of disk space on your drive(s).
▸Once that allocated quota is reached, older shadow copies will be overwritten by newer copies.

Step 1. Open the Start Menu. Click on Settings.

Step 2. Select System in the Setting window.

Step 3. Scroll down in the left side menu until you reach About. Locate the System protection option there.

System Protection Windows 11

Step 4. All of the volumes in your computer are listed here. Turn on all drives (here we only have our C: drive, and protection (shadow copies) are turned off). Click on Configure ...

Configure System Protection C Drive

Step 5. Click on Turn on system protection tab and use the slider below to set the allocated disk space for the copies.

Turn on System Protection

How do you create a Shadow Copy Backup in Windows 11?

Once Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) is enabled, you have the capability to utilize it for backing up volumes or specific files. By default, VSS is set up to handle these backup operations seamlessly. However, if you require further clarification or would like to verify the settings, you have the opportunity to review and customize them according to your specific needs.

Step 1. Press Win + I to open Settings and click Storage after click System.


Step 2. On the Storage settings page, click Advanced storage settings. Then, choose Backup options under Advanced storage settings.

Backup Options

Step 3.  On the Backup options settings page, click Go to Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Backup and Restore

Step 4.  In the pop-up window, click the Create a system image option from the left pane.

Create A System Image

Step 5.  Choose a location to save your system image, and then click Next. If you choose to save the system image on a hard disk, the disk must be formatted as NTFS.

Select Destination

Step 6. Confirm your settings and then tap on the option of Start backup.

Add Additional Drive

Best free alternative for shadow copy on Windows 11

Windows 11 shadow copy is useful in backing up and restoring your Windows data. Powerful as it is, you cannot ignore its disadvantages. Is there any third-party software to complement it or replace it perfectly? That must be AOMEI Backupper. It is a full-featured backup and restore software that for example, which is capable to perform Samsung T5 automatic backup, so that you can execute regular backup without effort.

☑Functionally, in addition to file and folder backup, AOMEI Backupper still supports disk backup, system backup and partition backup.
☑The software provides you with three flexible backup methods to cater to your specific requirements as full backup, incremental and differential backup per your needs. (The last one is offered in the professional version)
☑For backup schedule, it allows you to automate your backup tasks on daily, weekly, monthly, and event triggers, USB plug-in mode.

Here is a full guide to executing file backup for your convenience. Now download AOMEI Backupper and launch it.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 1. Click File Backup after choosing Backup. If you want to backup the entire hard disk, click Disk Backup instead.

File Backup

Step 2. Click Add File or Add Folder to select files or folders on your laptop that you want to back up.

Add Folders Files

Step 3. Select the location as the destination path to store the image file.

Select Destination

Step 4. Confirm your setting by clicking Start Backup button and wait for the task to finish.

In the end

This flexibility and non-disruptive approach provided by Windows 11 shadow copy greatly enhance productivity and convenience. The best alternative software----AOMEI Backupper enables you to backup everything you want  effortless and carefree. Apart from Windows backup, it is also the best external hard drive cloning software that provides powerful cloning plans.

Maggie · Editor
Maggie is a technical editor from AOMEI and troubleshoots technical problems against data protection. She has received professional and systematic technical training. With a focus on user experience, security, and problem-solving, she always puts herself in the readers' shoes and provides them with valuable technical insights.