Let Windows Server Backup Overwrite Old Backups Now

You can perform Windows Server backup overwrite old backups manually with 3 methods in simple steps, to make it flexible and automatic, try professional backup and restore software.


by Ivy Updated on October 24, 2022

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Windows Server Backup (WSB) is the built-in backup utility in Windows Server 2008, 2012, 2016, 2019, 2022, etc. It enables you to backup folders, volumes, system state, entire disk, or even perform bare metal backup and recovery. But sometimes you may find Windows Server Backup days it failed due to backup disk full.

 If you are experiencing Windows Server not deleting old backups, don't worry about it much, and this article will introduce you to the reasons and how to let Windows Server delete old backups.

Windows Server Backup Not Overwriting 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

Why Is Windows Server Backup Disk Space Management Not Working 

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, and you can use it to restore to previous versions.

If the target storage location is full, Windows Server Backup auto delete old backups to spare room for the current backup. More specifically, when WSB detects there is not enough space on the disk to accommodate a new backup, the automatic disk management feature will shrink the storage space allocated for snapshots, deleting one or more old snapshots that occupy the shrunken diff area, along with the corresponding backup version.


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 as backup limit number of Windows Server Backup copies.

How to Make Windows Server Backup Overwrite Old Backups Manually

You have three ways to make Windows Server Backup remove older backups: Change snapshot storage, use vssadmin delete shadows, or wbadmin delete systemstatebackup.

Way 1. Change Snapshot Storage

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

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

Shadow Copy Settings

Way 2. Use Vssadmin Delete Shadows

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. 

Way 3.  Use Wbadmin Delete Systemstate Backup 

1. Right click Start menu and select Command Prompt (Admin).

2. Type the following command and press Enter to delete all system state backups, except the most three copies.

wbadmin delete systemstatebackup -keepversions:3


Note: You can also specify system state backup you want to delete with -version-deleteOldest or -backupTarget pareamater.

However, it's not guaranteed to get free space, and sometimes you may find Windows Server Backup keeps only one copy.  Thus, it's wise to get a professional third-party backup software to backup Windows Server and manage backup versions effortlessly.

How to Backup Windows Server and Delete old Backups Automatically

Except for Windows Server Backup, you still can use the professional backup and recovery software – AOMEI Backupper Server to back up system, entire disk, individual partitions, files & folders to local drive, external hard drive, network share, cloud drive, etc. 

It allows you to create a schedule backup with full backup, incremental backup, and differential backup in simple clicks. And it still contains one more powerful backup cleanup feature to let you delete old backup images automatically. You have 3 options in the following:

By quantity: it's the easiest and simplest cleanup method, you just need to type the number of backup sets you want to keep, and then the old backups will be deleted afterward. One backup set consists of 1full plus 6 incremental backups.
By time: it only keeps the latest 7 days of backups by default and you can choose to set days more than 7 or use weeks or months as the basis to delete backup images regularly. 
By daily/weekly/monthly: it's a hierarchical deletion method, and it will delete incremental backup at first and then full backups until the last full backup for every month is deleted. 

And you can also create a cloud backup with it and enjoy 1TB of free cloud storage in 15 days after you register an AOMEI account.

Please download the free trial and follow the tutorial below to have a try! This program applied to all Windows Server and PC editions (32-bit and 64-bit), like Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2019, 2022 (including R2), SBS 2003, 2008, 2011 and Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, XP.

Download Free Trial Windows PCs & Servers
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(PS: If you want to backup Windows Server and manage backup disk space effectively in a company, try AOMEI Backupper Technician or TechPlus edition.)

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

Backup Disk

2. Input a proper Task Name. Click Add Disk to choose the system hard disk and then destination path below to save backup image.

 Add Disk

3. Click Schedule Backup and select Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Event triggers, USB plug in afterward under the Enable Schedule Backup tab. By default, it will enable Incremental Backup feature to backup only changed files. 

Schedule Settings General

4. Switch to Backup Scheme, you can change backup method if you prefer the differential backup method and then select backup cleanup by toggling on Enable Automatic Backup Cleanup, and choosing by quantity, by time, or by daily/weekly/monthly from the dropdown menu.


5. Confirm the backup task and press Start Backup to create system image backup for Windows Server and it will delete old backups automatically based on the selected cleanup methods.

Start Backup Scheme

★ Notes:
The Event Triggers backup include User logon, User logoff, System startup, System shutdown.
The USB plug in is a plug-and-pull backup method, so it will backup disk automatically when USB drive connected
You can also click Options to comment, compress, split, encrypt the backup image, and more.


If you are experiencing Windows Server Backup overwrite old backups, you can choose to make it delete the backup manually or try professional backup and restore software with automatic backup cleanup methods. AOMEI Backupper Server is a great choice and it provides you with more flexible choices.

In the future, you might need to restore disk backup to repair a computer or hard disk failure, not only restore to new hard drive but also restore to dissimilar hardware computer. And you can protect unlimited PCs and servers within your company and copy installation directory for portable version creation. 

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.