FIX: Volume Shadow Copy Service error

by Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Matthew Adams
Windows & Software Expert
Matthew is a freelancer who has produced a variety of articles on various topics related to technology. His main focus is the Windows OS and all the things... read more
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  • The most common cause for the Volume Shadow Copy Service error is that the service has been disabled.
  • If you are facing a Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service error, check the storage space for shadow copies.
  • Sometimes, the antivirus or Windows Firewall can interfere with the VSS and lead to errors.
  • Junk files on your partition also lead to VSS errors, make sure to keep your partitions clean.
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VSS is the Volume Shadow Copy Service in Windows that automatically backs up file snapshots and storage volumes even when files are in use.

Volume Shadow Copy is essential to Windows backup and System Restore utilities. As such, you might get a Volume Shadow Copy error for a system image backup or when rolling Windows back to a restore point.

If a Volume Shadow Copy Service error pops up, the System Restore utility probably won’t restore Windows. Furthermore, the Windows backup tool might not work when you try to copy files to an external USB drive.

These are a few resolutions that might fix some Volume Shadow Copy Service errors in Windows 10.

How do I fix the Volume Shadow Copy Service error?

1. How can you recognize a VSS error?

These are two VSS error messages that can pop up in Windows: and they look like in the below pictures:

A Volume Shadow Copy Service failed. Please check VSS and SPP application event logs for more information.

The Volume Shadow Copy Service used by System Restore is not working. For more information view the event log.

2. Check the Volume Shadow Copy Service is running

  1. Go to the Windows search bar.
  2. Then input the keyword services and select it to open the window directly below.
  3. Scroll down to and double-click Volume Shadow Copy to open the window in the shot directly below.
  4. Select Automatic from the Startup type drop-down list.
  5. If the service is currently stopped, press the Start button.
  6. Press the Apply and OK buttons.
  7. Then reboot your desktop or laptop.

3. Erase junk files for all drive partitions

  1. Open the Windows search bar and input the keyword disk cleanup in the search box.
  2. Select Disk Clean-up to open the window shown directly below.
  3. Select a drive partition to scan from the drop-down menu, and press the OK button.
  4. Then select the checkboxes on the window below, and press the OK button to delete the selected file up space disk cleanup
  5. Press the Delete Files button to confirm.
  6. In addition to the junk files, you can also erase system restore points. To do that, press the Clean up system files button on the Disk Clean-up window.
  7. Then select a drive partition and click OK.
  8. Next, select the More Options tab shown directly below.
  9. Press the Clean up button to erase system restore points.

Note: Some users have fixed VSS errors by utilizing Disk Clean-up in Windows to erase junk files. If you have two, or more, drive partitions, you’ll need to scan each partition with a disk clean utility.

There are numerous third-party utility software you can delete junk files with, but this is how you can utilize Disk Clean-up in Windows 10.

4. Switch off the Windows Firewall

  1. Enter Windows Defender Firewall in the Windows search box.
  2. Select it to open Windows Defender Firewall.
  3. Click Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off to open the options below.
  4. Select the Turn off Windows Defender Firewall settings, and click the OK button.

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Note: Turn off the Windows Firewall to ensure that it isn’t interfering with VSS in any way.

5. Disable anti-virus software

In addition to switching off the Windows Firewall, disable third-party anti-virus software. You can temporarily switch off the anti-virus by right-clicking the system tray icons and selecting a disable option.

However, if you can’t find a disable option on the system tray context menu, open the anti-virus software’s main window to select a switch-off option from there.

6. Expand Volume Shadow Copy storage space

  1. Type Command Prompt in the Windows search bar.
  2. Click Command Prompt (Admin) to open an elevated Prompt window.
  3. Then you can expand the shadow copy storage on drive C by entering the following command in the Command Prompt:
    vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=c: /for=c: /maxsize=20%
  4. Adjust the percentage value (maxsize) and the letter for drive partitions (on) in that command as required, then press Enter.
  5. For Windows Server you can right-click a drive partition in File Explorer and select Configure Shadow Copies.
  6. That opens a Shadows Copies tab from which you can press a Settings button to open further shadow copy options.
  7. Then you can select a Use limit radio button and enter a higher storage space value to increase allocated shadow copy storage.

Note: VSS errors can be due to a lack of storage space for shadow copies. So allocating more storage space for shadow copies can fix VSS errors. 

7. Remove third-party backup software

Some third-party backup software utilizes its own VSS components to create shadow copies. For example, Acronis Backup has its own VSS writer.

Third-party backup software with VSS components can conflict with Windows’ Volume Shadow Copy Service. Thus, uninstalling third-party backup utilities can fix numerous VSS errors.

We strongly recommend removing the backup utilities with a third-party uninstaller that will also erase leftover registry entries. This is a Windows gadget that allows you to uninstall software more thoroughly.

When you uninstall the software from Control Panel, sometimes you won’t delete all the files associated with it. An uninstaller can find and remove these junk files, hidden or broken shortcuts from a previously uninstalled program.

8. Erase orphaned shadows

  1. Open Command Prompt as administrator like in the above solution.
  2. Type the following command in the Command Prompt, and press the Enter key:
    vssadmin delete shadows /all

Note: VSS errors can also be due to the accumulation of orphaned shadows in Windows. 

Some of those resolutions might fix VSS errors on your desktop or laptop so you can utilize System Restore and other Windows backup utilities. If you have any other system backup errors, check out this post.

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