By Ivy / Last update June 29, 2021


Backup failed

How to make Windows Server 2008 delete old backups?

I set a schedule full backup to a volume in Windows server 2008. It running smoothly until today, now my full backup failed due to the disk full and contains 2 old backups. I thought the old backups will be deleted automatically to keep the newest backup after several backups; I don’t have any other options to modify. How can I keep the most recent versions of the backup and overwrite the oldest backup to spare space on my hard disk?


Windows Server Backup Failed Error


Windows Server Backup

Windows Server Backup (WSB) is a built-in utility to backup and recovery data in Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012, 2016 (R2), SBS 2003, 2008, 2011; especially for Windows Server 2008 (R2). It has the ability to backup an entire hard drive, selected volumes, the system state, or specific files or folders to local hard drive or on a remote network share. Besides, you are allowed to create bare metal backup and recovery.


How does backup work in Windows Server Backup?

How it works with Windows Server Backup? Windows Server Backup creates a virtual hard disk (VHD) file for the source volume when you perform a backup, especially Windows Server Backup to network share incremental, and then create a shadow copy of the destination volume where is the backup image file located. Then the backup time, shadow copy identifier (Shadow Copy ID) and Version identifier will be updated in backup catalog. Then, you could restore to previous versions with these shadow copies.

If the target storage location is full, Windows Server Backup delete old backups to spare room for the current backup, and then the oldest backup will be deleted automatically as long as the new backup created, you don’t have to manage manually.

The way Windows Server Backup is by decreasing the storage space of the shadow copy (snapshot). However, Windows Server Backup will not shrink the storage space of shadow copies to 1/8 below the target volume size. That’s why your backup failed and Windows Server Backup not deleting old backups. By the way, there is no such thing about backup limit number of Windows Server Backup copies.

Important: If you want to use Windows Server Backup to backup data, you have to get the elevated permissions from the system.


How to make Windows Server Backup overwrite old backups now?

You have two ways to make Windows Server Backup remove older backups: Change snapshot storage or Delete old backups manually.

Way 1: Change snapshot storage

1. Double click the Computer, right click the volume contains shadow copies (snapshot), choose Properities.

2. In Shadow Copies section, press Settings to change the path.

Shadow Copy Settings

Way 2: Delete old backups manually (Not Recommended)

You could use wbadmin delete systemstatebackup command to delete the system state backups. If you are planning to delete other kinds of backups, try WBADMIN built-in backup utility.

1. Click Start, and input cmd in search box, run as administrator.

2. First of all, run the following command to track Windows Server backup multiple copies, like Shadow copy ID, creation time, shadow copy volume, etc.:

vssadmin list shadows 

3. Then delete shadow copies starting from the oldest shadow copy, the command to remove shadow copies from Windows Server in cmd is:

vssadmin delete shadows /For=C: /oldest (change the C: with the right volume that contains the shadow copy which you want to delete)

Delete Shadow Copy Oldest

Or you could run vssadmin delete shadows /For=C: /all to delete all shadow copies. Then you might get free space for another backup. 

However, Windows Server Backup might overwrite old backups (It would not guarantee to get the free space). And sometimes you may find Windows Server Backup keep only one copy.  Thus, it's wise to get easier way to manage multiple backup versions effortlessly, and a professional third party backup software would be suitable for you.

The Best Server Backup Software

The professional backup and recovery software – AOMEI Backupper Server, will allow you to backup system, individual partition, files or folders, and entire hard drive to local hard drive, external hard drive, network share, clouds, etc. It allows you to create full backup, incremental backup, differential backup, schedule backup, etc. You could handle these backup files in computer easily.

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More important, it allows you to delete old backup images automatically with Backup Scheme settings. Here are the steps to how to delete backups to free up space according to disk backup:

1. Open AOMEI Backupper Server, choose Backup, and then click Disk Backup.

Backup Disk

2. Input a proper Task Name, choose the system hard disk to backup by clicking Add Disk.

Add Disk

3. Choose a destination disk to save the backup copy then.

4. Tick Scheme and then check Enable Backup Scheme, specify the number of backup versions you want to keep.


★ Tip: You have 5 schemes to choose: Full Backup Scheme, Incremental Backup Scheme, Differential Backup Scheme, Space Management Scheme, and Other Backup Scheme. Refer to the backup scheme to know more details about the retention policy.

5. Press Start Backup for Windows Server backup to save backups on limited storage space on disk.

Start Backup Scheme

★ Tips:
Options (optional): this powerful program allows you to comment, compress, split, encrypt the backup image, backup only the used sectors, and more.
This program applied to all Windows Server and PC editions (32-bit and 64-bit), like Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016 (including R2), SBS 2003, 2008, 2011 and Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP.

Besides, you could set the backup running daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers and USB plug in via Schedule option (optional).

  • Daily/Weekly/Monthly: To avoid forgetting to backup, you could set the backup running daily, weekly, monthly to automatically run on a regular basis.

  • Event Triggers: You could trigger the backup task via the following four events: User logon, User logoff, System startup, System shutdown, not affecting your working time.

  • USB plug in: AOMEI Backupper will immediately back up the data on the USB or backup local data to USB device as long as detecting the USB device of the task is plugged in.

Schedule Settings General



After that, you don’t have to worry about the backup limit number of Windows Server Backup. Meanwhile, like Windows Server Backup overwrite old backups, AOMEI Backupper Server will delete older backups to keep the recent backup versions for you after setting up. 

You could go Tools -> Explore Image to manage image files in File Explorer. In the future, you might need to restore the backup file to repair hard disk failure, the software has the ability to restore to identify location or restore to dissimilar hardware computer, etc. 

 And 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.