Enable Shadow Copies on Windows Server 2003

All of the VSS configuration options are accessible through Windows’ Disk Management Console. You can access the Disk Management Console by entering the DISKMGMT.MSC command at the Run prompt. When the Disk Management console opens, you must verify that the volume that you plan on running VSS on is formatted as NTFS. If the volume is currently formatted as FAT or as FAT-32, you can enter the command CONVERT C: /FS:NTFS at the Run prompt, where C: is the drive letter assigned to the volume that you want to convert. Keep in mind that converting a volume to NTFS is a one way operation and the volume can not be converted back to FAT or FAT-32 without reformatting.

Now that the hard disk has been prepared, it’s time to enable VSS. To do so, right click on the volume that you wish to enable VSS for and select the Properties command from the resulting shortcut menu. Keep in mind that VSS can only be enabled at the volume level. You can not control VSS at the disk level or at the folder or share level. At this point, you should see the volume’s properties sheet appear. Select the properties sheet’s Shadow Copies tab and you will be able to see which, if any, of the volumes currently have Shadow Copy enabled, as shown in this picture.


You could just click the Enable button to enable shadow copies on the selected volume, but I recommend clicking Settings instead. This allows you to configure the shadow copy behavior. As you can see in Figure B, Windows automatically limits the amount of space that can be consumed by shadow copies (although shadow copies require 100 MB minimum). You can tell Windows not to limit the space though. I recommend not limiting VSS because with enough free disk space, VSS can maintain up to 64 versions of each file. Besides, as disk space starts to run low, Windows will automatically delete older shadow copies to make room for new data.



Another feature of the Settings dialog box is the schedule. By default, Windows schedules shadow copies to be made twice a day. You can set the schedule to make shadow copies of your data as often as you like provided that you don’t schedule shadow copies to be made more than once an hour. Although Windows won’t stop you from creating shadow copies more often than once an hour, doing so really hurts the servers performance and runs the risk of making incomplete shadow copies.

When you are done setting up the configuration options, just click OK and then click Enable to enable VSS on the selected volume. Click OK to close the volume’s properties sheet.

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