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JSI Tip 6746. Description of the Shadow Copies Feature in Windows Server 2003.

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Microsoft Knowledge Base article Q304606 contains:

The information in this article applies to:
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition
This article was previously published under Q304606


This article provides a description of the Shadow Copies feature in Windows Server 2003.


The Shadow Copies feature provides point-in-time copies of files on network shares. With shadow copies of shared folders, you can view the contents of network folders as they existed at points of time in the past. This feature may be very beneficial in the following three scenarios:
  • You want to recover files that were accidentally deleted. This is the network equivalent of the Recycle Bin functionality. If you accidentally delete a file, you can open an old version of the file, and then copy it to a safe location. Shadow copies of shared folders can recover files that are deleted by any mechanism, as long as the required history folder exists.
  • You want to recover a file after you accidentally overwrite it. Shadow copies of shared folders can be very useful in environments where you commonly create new files by opening an existing file, making modifications, and then saving the file with a new name. For example, you might open a financial-modeling spreadsheet, make modifications based upon new scenario assumptions, and then save the spreadsheet with a new name to create a new spreadsheet. The problem arises when you forget to save the file by using a new file name, so that the original work is erased. You can use a shadow copy of the shared folder to recover the previous version of the file.
  • You want to check different versions of the same file while you are working on the file. You could use shadow copies of shared folders during the normal work cycle when you want to determine what has changed between two versions of the same file. For example, you might want to see what your original text looked like before you spent time editing the file.


You can access shadow copies of shared folders on the Shadow Copies tab of the Local Disk Properties dialog box. You can also view the same dialog box in the Computer Management snap-in. To do so, right-click Shares, point to All Tasks, and then click Configure Shadow Copies.

The Vssadmin.exe tool is the command-line equivalent tool for the Volume Shadow Copy service.

For more information about shadow copies, search for "Shadow Copies" in Online Help.

Access Shadow Copies on Windows Server 2003 from Another Operating System

You can use the Shadow Copy Client to access shadow copies on Windows Server 2003 from client computers that are running other operating systems.

NOTE: See Shadow Copy Client: Accessing Shadow Copies on Windows Server 2003.

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