Shadow Copies of Shared Folders

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Windows Small Business Server includes the ability to create shadow copies of shared folders. This allows you to create backup snapshots of the files in shared folders. These snapshots are created automatically on a schedule you control, enabling easy fallback to older versions of a particular file in the event of corruption, deletion, or inadvertent and undesired changes. And, considering that a file deletion from a network share would otherwise be both immediate and permanent, with no intervening Recycle Bin, shadow copies are highly recommended. But even when you’re not dealing with the deletion of a file, shadow copies are a really useful tool. How many times have you inadvertently saved the wrong version of a file? With shadow copies, you can retrieve an earlier version and recover it quickly without having to restore from a backup tape.

Configuring Shadow Copies

Shadow copies provide a sort of “network Recycle Bin” by taking snapshots of shared folders at a set interval. This allows you to go back and look at earlier versions of files stored in network shares, even if a user deleted the original files or modified them. This permits you to recover deleted or overwritten files, or compare modified files to earlier versions (up to 64 versions can be kept). You’ll still need to perform regular backups, but shadow copies can be a great way to supplement your backup strategy.

Enabling Shadow Copies

Shadow copies are enabled by default on Windows Small Business Server on the volume that houses the Users shared folder, so you don’t need to do anything at all to enable them. However, you do need to think about your overall strategy for shadow copies and how you want to use them. You should consider the total amount of storage you’ll use for shadow copies, where the shadow copy storage will reside, how often automatic shadow copies will be made and how many versions you’re going to keep.

If you want to enable shadow copies on other volumes, you will need to manually enable them, as described in this section.


If you’re storing shadow copies on a different volume from the source files, you should make any disk changes to that volume before you enable it for storage. If you convert from a basic disk to a dynamic disk, you might lose the shadow copy data.

If the source volume is a dynamic disk, you can get around this problem by first taking the source volume offline, and then converting the volume storing the shadow copies to a dynamic disk and bringing the source volume back online. (This must be performed in fewer than 20 minutes to preserve the existing shadow copies.) But much better to configure all your disks first.

To enable shadow copies, complete the following steps:

  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the volume on which you want to enable shadow copies and select Properties.

  2. Click the Tools tab, and click the Defragment Now button to open the Disk Defragmenter tool and defragment the volume.

  3. When defragmentation is done, return to the main volume Properties page and click the Shadow Copies tab.

  4. Select a volume on which to enable shadow copies, as shown in Figure 8-8.

  5. Click Settings.

  6. If you’re going to store your shadow copies on a separate volume, select the target volume from the Located On This Volume drop-down list.

  7. Type in the maximum amount of storage to allocate in the Use Limit box, as shown in Figure 8-9.

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    Figure 8-8: Enabling shadow copies on a volume.

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    Figure 8-9: Setting storage location and limits for shadow copies.

  8. Click Schedule and specify the schedule for shadow copy creation. The default is twice a day.

  9. Click OK in the Settings dialog box to return to the Shadow Copies tab.

  10. Click Enable to display the Enable Shadow Copies dialog box, shown in Figure 8-10. Even though it says that Windows will use the default settings, the settings you just made will actually be used.

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    Figure 8-10: The Enable Shadow Copies dialog box.

  11. Configure any additional volumes and click OK when you’re finished.

Setting Up Clients to Use Shadow Copies

To access stored shadow copies, clients need to have the Previous Versions Client software installed. The Previous Versions Client software is automatically installed on Windows 2000 (SP3 or later) and Microsoft Windows XP clients when you configure a new client computer in Windows Small Business Server. The software is located in the ClientApps\ShadowCopy folder on the server. For Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows Me, the client must be installed manually, as discussed in Chapter 12, “Managing Computers on the Network.”

Accessing Shadow Copies

To access shadow copies from a client using the Previous Versions Client software, complete the following steps:

  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the network share and choose Properties from the shortcut menu.

  2. Click the Previous Versions tab, shown in Figure 8-11.


    For the Previous Versions tab to show up, at least one shadow copy on the server must be created. To create a shadow copy on the server immediately, open the Properties dialog box for the volume, click the Shadow Copies tab, and click Create Now.

  3. Select the folder version and then click the button corresponding to the action you want to perform:

    • View Opens the shadow copy in Windows Explorer. You can then open or copy the files just like in a normal folder (although you can’t delete anything or save to these folders).

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      Figure 8-11: Accessing previous versions of a file.

    • Copy Copies the shadow copy to the location you specify.

    • Restore Rolls back the shared folder to its state as of the snapshot image you selected.


To access shadow copies from the server, connect to the shared folder using its UNC path (for example, \\sbssrv\Users\Wally) instead of using a local path.

Disabling Shadow Copies

To disable shadow copies on a volume, complete the following steps:

  1. In Windows Explorer, right-click the volume you want to disable shadow copies on and select Properties.

  2. Select the Shadow Copies tab.

  3. Select the volume to disable and click Disable.

  4. Click Yes to confirm that Windows will delete all previous shadow copies on the volume.


Disabling Shadow copies on a volume deletes all previously saved shadow copies (snapshots) for that volume.


If you want to delete a volume on which shadow copies is enabled, first disable shadow copies for the volume. If you don’t first disable shadow copies, the event log will fill up with errors.

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Under the Hood

Command Line

To administer shadow copies from a command line, use the following command:

 vssadmin [Add ShadowStorage] [Create Shadow] [Delete Shadows] [Delete    ShadowStorage] [List Providers] [List Shadows] [List ShadowStorage]    [List Volumes] [List Writers] [Resize ShadowStorage] 

The available parameters for vssadmin are:

  • Add ShadowStorage Specifies on what volume shadow copies should be stored for the specified source volume

  • Create Shadow Manually creates a shadow copy

  • Delete Shadows Deletes all shadow copies for the specified source volume

  • Delete ShadowStorage Deletes the association between a source volume and the volume on which the shadow copies are stored

  • List Providers Displays the installed shadow copy providers (Windows Server 2003 ships with only one)

  • List Shadows Displays the complete list of stored shadow copies

  • List ShadowStorage Displays all associations between source volumes and the volumes on which shadow copies are stored

  • List Volumes Displays all volumes on which shadow copies can be enabled

  • List Writers Displays a list of all applications that make use of shadow copies

  • Resize ShadowStorage Changes the maximum size allocated to storing shadow copies

For additional help with individual parameters, type:

vssadmin <parameter> /?

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Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Administrator's Companion
Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Administrators Companion (Pro-Administrators Companion)
ISBN: 0735620202
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 224

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