By Ailsa / Last Updated June 24, 2020

What is Shadow Copy?

Shadow Copy (also called Volume Snapshot Service, Volume Shadow Copy Service, or VSS) is a technology included in Microsoft Windows. It allows you to take backup copies or snapshots for files and volumes manually or automatically, even when the files or volumes are in use. Shadow Copy only applies to the NTFS file system volumes on local or external hard drive.

Shadow Copy supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012, 2016, 2019. You could use Shadow Copy to create a Windows operating system backup. Thus, you could restore or recover operating system to previous state when problems occur.

How to use Shadow Copy in Windows Server 2012 (R2)?

If you want to use Shadow Copy on a certain volume, you have to enable Volume Shadow Copy first. Otherwise, the backup process will run into issues.

Part 1: Enable Volume Shadow Copy

1. Open File Explorer, right click the volume you want to enable the VSS and select Configure Shadow Copies.

Configure Shadow Copies

2. Pitch on the volume and press Enable button.

Enable Shadow Copies

3. A window will show up to prompt you, click Yes.

Enable Shadow Copies Yes

Part 2: Run Windows Server 2012 shadow copy

1. Right click the Computer, choose Manage.

2. Click Storage -> Disk Management.

3. Right click Disk Management, choose All Tasks -> Configure Shadow Copies.

Configure Shadow Copies All Tasks

4. Choose the volume you want to create shadow copies. And press Settings to configure, then click OK.

5. Choose Create Now button to create a Shadow Copies.

Create Now


✦ To restore the previous state for your volume in Windows Server 2012, click Revert to restore:


✦ If you do not want use Shadow Copy anymore, you could disable it in the Shadow Copies window.

Disable Shadow Copies

Reliable backup and restore solution for Windows Servers

Shadow Copy has its limitations: you can only run volume-level backup or you may meet some VSS errors when you backup Windows Server 2012. Thus, if you want to backup entire hard drive or system files, you may need to look for another approach. Another reliable backup and restore solution could be the best Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy alternative – AOMEI Backupper Server.

AOMEI Backupper Server is powerful backup and restore software for Windows PCs and Servers, including Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 (all editions, 32/64-bit) and Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012 (R2), 2016 (R2), 2019, SBS 2003, 2008, 2011. Except for partition backup, you could backup the operating system or entire hard drive. Besides, the clone or sync feature would do you a big favor if needed. Take system backup as an example to show you how it works.

1. Open AOMEI Backupper after installing, choose Backup -> System Backup.

System Backup

2. Input a Task Name. The partition(s) associated with system files will be selected automatically.

3. Choose a destination disk to save the system image. You are allowed to backup system to local hard drive, external SSD, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, NAS, network share, etc.

Select Destination Path

4. Click Start Backup to backup Windows Server 2012 system.

Start Backup

Besides, there are multiple optional settings for you to configure if you want:

1. Options: You could comment, compress, split this task, and set up to backup used sectors, VSS backup, etc.

2. Schedule: You could set up the Windows Server 2012 (R2) backup task running daily/weekly/monthly/event triggers/real-time sync. You can also choose to create incremental or differential backup.

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: Set the backup task based on daily, weekly, monthly to automatically perform to save your time.

  • Event Triggers: You could trigger the backup task to via User logon, User logoff, System startup, System shutdown 4 events.

  • USB plug in: It's useful to backup data automatically once detecting the USB device of the task is plugged in.

  • Real-time Sync: Sync files immediately once they changed, please try real time file sync to keep all the files up to date.

Schedule Settings General

3. Besides, If you would like to manage your hard drive space. You could set up Scheme to delete old backups to free up space, and there are 5 schemes provided: Full Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Differential Backup Scheme, Space Management Scheme, Other Backup Scheme.


Now, wait for the operation finished, your Windows operating system will be backed up with a success. You can perform Windows Server 2019 backup with above steps as well.


Compared with Shadow Copy, the best Shadow Copy alternative – AOMEI Backupper Server is more flexible and easy to use for Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016 (including R2), SBS 2003, 2008, 2011 and PCs.

Furthermore, you may be interested in Technician Plus to install this program on unlimited computers within one company or provide unlimited billable technical services to your clients, etc. Obviously, choose the right one according to your needs.