Windows Server

Recover lost Windows Server 2003 files with Volume Shadow Copy

Windows Server 2003's Volume Shadow Copy tool eliminates the need to refer to old backup media to locate an overwritten or deleted file. It also allows you to create snapshots of server volumes and store them on disk at predetermined times throughout the day, enhancing backup mechanisms. Here's how to get back lost files in Windows Server 2003 with Volume Shadow Copy.

Windows Server 2003's Volume Shadow Copy tool eliminates the need to refer to old backup media to locate an overwritten or deleted file. Volume Shadow Copy allows you to create snapshots of server volumes and store them on disc at predetermined times throughout the day. This doesn't take away from the requirement of removable backup media or offsite storage -- it enhances it.

Shadow copies work on a per volume basis, meaning that you can enable them for whole volumes only and not just individual shares. Once enabled, they allow an administrator or an end user to retrieve copies of their files saved at predefined times throughout the day, reducing the reliance on backups for individual file recovery.

To configure Volume Shadow Copy, follow these steps:

1. Open the Disk Management snap-in.

2. Right-click the disk you wish to enable shadow copies on.

3. Select Properties from the Context menu.

4. Choose the Shadow Copies tab.

5. In the Select A Volume Area of the Shadow Copies tab on the Properties dialog box, highlight the volume you wish to enable the service on.

6. Click the Settings button to set the times and days of the week you want shadow copies made.

Note: If you don't set any preferences, the default schedule will be 7:00 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. on weekdays. (Time zone settings would be the same as those configured on the server, so you don't need to specify them.)

You can also set the path where the shadow copies should be stored in the Settings pane. To do so, continue with these steps:

7. Click OK in the Settings dialog box to return to the Main Property dialog box.

8. To create a starting snapshot, click the Create New button. This enables Volume Shadow Copy and sets the schedule.

9. Click OK to close the Properties window.

Using Volume Shadow Copy can reduce the amount of restores that you perform for single file restoration, while still providing more frequent access to overwritten files. Since any user with access to a folder can, by default, view its previous versions, the use of shadow copies can even help reduce the number of calls the help desk receives about missing files.

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About

Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.

15 comments
chama87
chama87

Can someone pls help me with this ?? When copying some files from a windows server 2000 to a windows server 2008, the files seems they've been lost. Both servers are Raid configuration. What can I do to recover the lost files?

jnleclaire
jnleclaire

Derek offers some quick and easy steps that could save some of you a lot of headaches. If you've ever lost Windows Server files, well, you know what I mean. It can be dramatic at best and downright traumatic at worst. Thanks to Derek for offering some relief. Jennifer LeClaire ServerPronto University http://www.serverpronto.com/spu/

RNR1995
RNR1995

Best thing M$ ever offered ...I wonder who they stole it from? FYI works like a charm except on heavy I/O load machines. You can also get to the tab by using \\127.0.0.1 then properties of the share

SteveEyler
SteveEyler

Ditto. I'm with you guys. Good page 1 however where's the rest of the story? What happens if the restore procedure makes the whole idea of using this feature unthinkable? Would Microsoft have any software like that? Just some thoughts out loud...

tom
tom

I think the article is a functional first page. But, until it includes the instructions for how to restore the files, it doesn't seem complete. I don't suppose there will be a follow-up? I realize I will probably get flamed for being lazy and not researching it myself, which I have already started, but I could have done that for the first part also.

dgodfrey
dgodfrey

I would really like to implement this feature, however I am unsure about the amount of freespace I'd require. Is there some sort of calculation based on the total amount of a volume vs it's freespace??

as400doofus
as400doofus

We are in transition. I've salvaged things for years using Novell. Will this do the same thing? I read the technet article and it appears I'd have to make a full copy of the data directories and then implement the on write feature of shadow copy.

SteveEyler
SteveEyler

Thanks for the link. All questions answered for me. Maybe could have been in the original tip?

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

Flaming is un-necessary. There will be a follow-up going through the process of restoring files from a shadow copy.

d50041
d50041

Unfortunate for those of us who have used Netware, MS is years behind

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

The tech net link is a great resource. I didn't catch it while preparing the post simply because I use VSS alot and went off of experiences.

tom
tom

Oops, reread my post. Thought you were considering my post a flame. This article came at a time I was starting to research VSC so was very timely. I did some research and figured out how to restore. I don't think it is very intuitive, but once you figure it out, can be a real life (file?) saver. I see someone else posted a link to the KB so I won't repeat it here.

Derek Schauland
Derek Schauland

I am glad you found the post helpful. There is another piece coming soon that adds a bit more to the VSC idea. I was merely suggesting that no-one need to flame anyone... I appreciate the feedback and am glad I provided something helpful