How to Use Shadow Copy in Windows Server 2012?

Posted by @Ailsa

January 2, 2019

Trying to use Shadow Copy to backup and restore data in Windows Server 2012? Follow the detailed steps to create shadow copies with simple clicks.

What is Shadow Copy?

Shadow Copy also called Volume Snapshot Service, Volume Shadow Copy Service, or VSS, which is built-in Microsoft Windows. It allows you to take backup copies or snapshots for files and volumes manually or automatically, even the file or volume is in use. Shadow Copy only applied to the NTFS file system volumes on local or external hard drive. You could use it to create a Windows operating system backup. 

Shadow Copy supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and Windows Server 2003, 2008 (R2), 2012, 2016, 2019. Thus, you could use Shadow Copy to restore or recover operating system to previous state under some circumstances.

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:

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

After enabling the VSS, you could create shadow copies for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server backup 2012 VSS best Practices:

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

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


Besides, if you do not want use Shadow Copy anymore, you could disable it:

Disable Shadow Copies

Reliable Backup and Restore solution for Windows PCs

Shadow Copy has its limitations: you can only backup a volume or you may meet some VSS error 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 a 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), Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2012, 2016 (including R2), SBS 2003, 2008, 2011. Except for partition backup, you could backup Windows 7/8/10, or entire HDD. Besides, the clone or sync feature would do you a big favor if needed. To show you how it works, taking system backup for example:

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

System Backup

2. Input a Task Name.

3. Choose a destination disk to save these system files in the Step2.


  • The system partition associated with system files will be selected automatically in the Step1.

  • You are allowed to backup system to local hard drive, external SSD, USB flash drive, CD/DVD, NAS, network share, etc.

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

Start Backup


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

  • Schedule: you could set up the task running daily/weekly/monthly/event triggers/real-time sync, even create incremental and differential backup, or full backup, etc.

  • Scheme: You could enable disk space management.


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. Now, you may want to download to have a try. 

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.