What is Volume Shadow Copy in Windows 10?
Available in Windows 10/8/7, Volume Shadow Copy is a feature that creates snapshots (shadow copies) of disk volumes, even when they are in use. You can create or store shadow copies on local disk, external hard drive or network drive.
Shadow Copy requires the NTFS file system to create and save shadow copies. Therefore, Windows Backup and Restore that use Shadow Copy technology can only protect volumes formatted with NTFS.
You probably have more shadow copies than you know. Every time a system restore point is created, you will have a valid shadow copy. When your Windows 10 system does not work as it should, you can use system restore point to restore Windows 10 to previous version.
As mentioned, Shadow Copy maintains snapshots of the entire volumes, so you can also use shadow copies to recover deleted files besides restoring system. By default, System Protection is turned on for system drive (C: drive). You can manually use it to protect other volumes besides C: drive.
How to use shadow copy to restore lost files?
If you have shadow copies available on the drive on which the lost files were previous located, then you can easily use the Previous Versions to restore deleted files. For example, to restore some files that were saved on Desktop, you can try the following steps:
1. Locate the Desktop folder in File Explorer.
2. Right click on the Desktop folder and select Properties.
3. Navigate to Previous Versions tab, and then select the right version you want to restore and select Restore.
If you cannot find the folder containing the lost files, you can find its parent folder and then restore it to the previous version.
If you forget where the deleted files located, then you can download the free tool Shadow Explorer to help you many shadow copies in a very convenient way.
How to delete shadow copies?
By default, Windows 10 allows you to take 5% of the volume space to store shadow copies. If you think the shadow copies have taken too much disk space, then you can delete all shadow copies or delete all but the latest one.
To delete all shadow copies:
1. Right click on This PC and select Properties.
2. Select System Protection
3. Click Configure.
4. In a new pop-up window, click Delete to delete all shadow copies.
It is recommended to delete all but the most recent shadow copies. To only save the most recent shadow copy, you can use the built-in utility Disk Cleanup.
Can volume shadow copy replace backups?
Windows 10 shadow copy cannot replace backup for a couple of reasons.
1. The shadow copies are stored in the original volume, so if the volume crashes, no shadow copies are available.
2. Shadow copies may not be created regularly by the default settings.
3. Your valuable shadow copies may be deleted without warning you when disk space is low.
4. Shadow copies may not correctly record all the files changes.
Therefore, if you want your system and data to be safe, you should create actual image backups besides shadow copies.
Free backup and restore software for Windows 10
AOMEI Backupper Standard is free backup software for Windows 10/8/7. It provides System Backup, Disk Backup, Partition Backup and File Backup, so you can separately backup system and files or backup the entire hard drive including system and files.
To always get your data backed up, you set up a scheduled backup task to automatically create backup. in order to save disk space, AOMEI Backupper will keep creating incremental backups after the first full. You can also change it to differential backup or full backup.
You can set the scheduled backup to run at a specific time daily, weekly, or monthly. If you want the backup running on a certain event, you can use AOMEI Backupper Professional to configure event triggered backup task.
To create an auto backup task with AOMEI Backupper:
1. Download and install this free backup tool.
2. In the main interface, click the Backup tab and select System Backup. If you want to backup entire hard drive, just select Disk Backup.
3. In the next screen, you can see system related partitions have been included automatically. Just click Step 2 to choose a location folder or drive to receive the backup image. It is recommended to backup to external volumes.
4. Then click Schedule to configure scheduled backup settings based on your preference. After that, click Start Backup to start the backup.
Compared with Windows Backup and Restore, AOMEI Backupper is super fast. It took me 4 minutes to backup 70GB of data on a SATA SSD. If you use NVME SSD, it will be even faster.
When the backup completes, you can create a bootable media in case serious issues. When your system fails to boot, you can boot your PC from the AOMEI bootable media and restore your system from a backup from there.
As mentioned, shadow copies may not always work, it is highly recommended to create image backups on a regular basis along with shadow copy in Windows 10.