By Lily / Last Updated February 24, 2020

The issue: Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups

Windows Server Backup (WSB) is the built-in backup and recovery solution for Windows server environments. It allows users to backup a full server, the system state, storage volumes and specific files or folders. First introduced in Windows Server 2008, WSB has been added new functionalities in Windows Server 2008 R2 and later versions including automatic usage of disk space, smaller and faster incremental backups and so on. For instance, you can create Windows Server Backup incremental to network share via VHD file.

Users benefit a lot from the new functionality of automatic disk usage management. After you configure a scheduled backup, WSB automatically manages the disk usage—you do not need to concern yourself with running out of disk space after repeated backups. However, some users find Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups regardless of automatic disk usage management feature. Here is a real case:

“I am doing a Windows Server Backup with Server 2012 R2. At this moment I am having this error: ‘Windows Backup encountered an error when writing data to the backup target. Detailed error: There is not enough space on the disk.’ How can I configure Windows Server Backup to delete the oldest backup so that this issue will not occur?”

How comes Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups?

Automatic disk usage management takes effect (i.e. Windows Server Backup deletes backups automatically) when it detects there is insufficient space for new backups. WSB creates space for new backups by shrinking the storage space allocated for snapshots (called diff area). Once the diff area gets shrunk, old snapshots as well as corresponding backup versions get deleted.

WSB will not shrink the diff area to less than 1/8 of target volume size as Windows doesn’t think we want to lose all past backups just to create a new one. That’s why we discover Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups sometimes, thus causing new backups fail due to Windows Server Backup drive full. How can we solve the problem?

How to resolve Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups efficiently?

I’m going to show you how to resolve Windows Server 2012 Backup not deleting old backups in two solutions separately:

Solution 1: Delete old backups manually using wbadmin command

If WSB fails to delete the old backups automatically, you may use wbadmin to delete backups manually. To delete the system state backups, you can run “wbadmin delete systemstatebackup” command. As for non-system state backup deletion, you should use “wbadmin delete backup” in Windows Server 2012 (R2) and Windows Server 2016 or delete the shadow copies where the backup exists as a workaround in Windows Server 2008 R2 and previous versions. Learn how to delete the system state backups below:

1. Right click on the Start icon and select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu.

2. Type wbadmin delete systemstatebackup -keepVersions:3 and press Enter to delete all system state backups, except the three most recent.


✎ Note:
Other parameters you may use in “wbadmin delete systemstatebackup” command:
-version:<VersionIdentifier>: delete the specific system state backup.
-deleteOldest: delete the oldest system state backup.
-backupTarget:<VolumeName>: delete the system state backup stored on specific volume.

3. Type exit and press Enter to exit Command Prompt.

Solution 2: Delete old backups automatically with a powerful utility

AOMEI Backupper Server is a powerful backup and recovery tool for Windows Server. It supports both Windows Server operating systems (Windows Server 2019/2016/2012 (R2)/2008 (R2)/2003, etc) and Windows PC operating systems (Windows 10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP). It enables you to do system/disk/partition/file backup with more flexible options.

With the Schedule feature, you can set the backup task to run at fixed intervals. And it will delete old backup versions automatically if you enable the Scheme option. Follow the steps below to schedule a system backup and enable automatic disk space management via AOMEI Backupper. Before you start, you may download the 30-day free trial of AOMEI Backupper Server:

Download Free Trial

Secure Download

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper. Click on “Backup” and select “System Backup”.

System Backup

Step 2. The required system partition(s) is (are) selected by default. Choose the destination path to store the backup files.

Select Destination

Step 3. Tick “Schedule” in the bottom, and then set the frequency of the system backup to run. Under “Advanced‘’ tab, you can choose to run full/incremental/differential backups.

Schedule Settings

Step 4. Tick “Scheme” and choose “Enable Backup Scheme” in the pop-up window. Then, choose from the 5 scheme types to delete old backups automatically.

Backup Scheme

Step 5. Confirm the operations and click “Start Backup”.

Start Backup


When you find Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups automatically, you can either use wbadmin command to delete backups manually or do system backup with AOMEI Backupper. AOMEI Backupper makes you never worried about using up disk space after repeated backups. What’s more, it offers quick workarounds to WD Sync not working and Samsung Data Migration multiple partitions clone. Go for AOMEI Backupper right now!

If you want to protect unlimited PCs and servers within your company, you may choose AOMEI Backupper Technician Plus. It offers unlimited billable technical services to clients. It also enables you to copy installation directory for portable version creation.