How to Let Windows Server Backup Overwrite Old Backups?

Posted by @Ailsa

October 10, 2018

Windows Server Backup could not delete or remove older backups to running the new back task? We will help you find the cause and offer you the best disk management tool for backups.

Backup failed

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

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 create a virtual hard disk (VHD) file for the source volume when you perform a backup, 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 will delete the oldest backup version 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:

vssadmin list shadows

3. Input the command to get the shadow copy ID for backups:

wbadmin get versions –backuptarget:<TarGetDrive>

4. 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=<driveletter>: /oldest (change the <driveletter> with the right one)

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). If you want to get easier way to manage multiple backup versions, the third party backup software would be suitable for you.

The best Windows Server backup solution

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.

More important, it allows you to set the latest versions of backup image file by Disk Space Management, i.e. auto delete old backups. Here are the steps to set details about Disk Space Management according to disk backup:

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

Backup Disk

2. Input a proper Task Name, choose the system hard disk to backup in the Step1.

Task Name

3. Choose a destination disk to save the backup copy in the Step2.

4. Tick Scheme and then check Enable Disk Space Management, specify the latest versions of backup image file 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.

Enable Disk Space Management

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

Start Backup


  • Backup Options: this powerful program allows you to comment, compress, split the backup image, backup only the used sectors, and more.

  • Schedule: you could set the backup running daily, weekly, monthly, event triggers and real-time sync, and other settings.

  • 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.

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 Utilities -> 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.