How to fix Windows 10 VSS Errors and resume system backup

By: Matthew Adams
5 minute read
fix Windows 10 VSS Error

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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 fairly essential to Windows backup and System Restore utilities. As such, you might get a VSS error for a system image backup or when rolling Windows back to a restore point. These are two VSS error messages that can pop up in Windows:

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.

If a VSS 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 VSS errors in Windows 10.

Windows 10 VSS Error: Here are 5 solutions to fix it

  1. Check the Volume Shadow Copy Service is Running
  2. Erase Junk Files for All Drive Partitions
  3. Switch Off the Windows Firewall
  4. Disable Anti-Virus Software
  5. Expand Volume Shadow Copy Storage Space
  6. Erase Orphaned Shadows
  7. Remove Third-Party Backup Software
  8. Add Acronis VSS Doctor to Windows

1. Check the Volume Shadow Copy Service is Running

  • First, check that VSS is enabled and running in Windows. To do that, press the Cortana button on the Windows taskbar.
  • Then input the keyword ‘services’ in the search box and select Services to open the window directly below.

  • Scroll down to and double-click Volume Shadow Copy to open the window in the shot directly below.

  • Select Automatic from the Startup type drop-down list.
  • If the service is currently stopped, press the Start button.
  • Press the Apply and OK buttons.
  • Then reboot your desktop or laptop.

ALSO READ: FIX: Antivirus blocking System Restore in Windows 10

2. Erase Junk Files for All Drive Partitions

Some users have fixed VSS errors by utilizing Disk Clean-up in Windows to erase junk files on their drive partitions. 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.

  • Open the Cortana app.
  • Input the keyword ‘disk cleanup’ in the search box.
  • Select Disk Clean-up to open the window shown directly below.

  • Select a drive partition to scan from the drop-down menu, and press the OK button.
  • Then select the check boxes on the window below, and press the OK button to delete the selected file categories.

free up space disk cleanup

  • Press the Delete Files button to confirm.

  • 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.
  • Then select a drive partition and click OK.
  • Next, select the More Options tab shown directly below.

  • Press the Clean up button to erase system restore points.

3. Switch Off the Windows Firewall

  • Turn off the Windows Firewall to ensure that it isn’t interfering with VSS in any way. To do that, open the Cortana app.
  • Enter ‘Windows Firewall’ in the search box, and select to open Windows Defender Firewall.

Windows 10 Store can't buy

  • Click Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off to open the options below.

turn off windows firewall pc

  • Select the Turn off Windows Defender Firewall settings, and click the OK button.

ALSO READ: The 15 best firewall devices to protect your home network

4. Disable Anti-Virus Software

In addition to switching off the Windows Firewall, disable third-party anti-virus software. You can temporarily switch off some anti-virus utilities by right-clicking their 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.

5. Expand Volume Shadow Copy Storage Space

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. On Windows Server platforms you can select a Configure Shadow Copies option on drive context menus. However, on Windows 10 desktops you can expand storage for shadow copies with the Command Prompt as follows.

  • Press the Windows key + X to open the menu in the snapshot below.

  • Click Command Prompt (Admin) to open an elevated Prompt window.
  • Then you can expand the shadow copy storage on drive C by entering ‘vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=c: /for=c: /maxsize=20%’ in the Command Prompt and pressing Return. Adjust the percentage value and the on and for drive partitions in that command as required.

Windows Server users can right-click a drive partition in File Explorer and select Configure Shadow Copies. That opens a Shadows Copies tab from which you can press a Settings button to open further shadow copy options. Then you can select a Use limit radio button and enter a higher storage space value to increase allocated shadow copy storage.

6. Erase Orphaned Shadows

  • VSS errors can also be due to the accumulation of orphaned shadows in Windows. To erase orphaned shadows, open the Cortana app’s search box.
  • Then you can input ‘cmd’ in the search box.
  • Right-click Command Prompt and select the Run as administrator option.
  • Enter ‘vssadmin delete shadows /all’ in the Command Prompt, and press the Return key.

7. Remove Third-Party Backup Software

Some third-party backup software utilize their 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.

Remove the backup utilities with a third-party uninstaller that will also erase leftover registry entries. Advanced Uninstaller PRO 12 is freeware system optimizer for Windows that includes an uninstaller with which you can more thoroughly uninstall software. This is how you can remove backup utilities with that software.

  • Press the Download Now button on the Advanced Uninstaller PRO homepage to save the software’s setup wizard.
  • Open the Advanced Uninstaller PRO setup wizard to add the system optimizer to Windows.
  • After opening the software, click General Tools > Uninstall Programs.

  • Select a third-party backup utility, and press the Uninstall button.

  • Select the Use the leftover scanner option on the dialog box window that opens, and press the Yes button to confirm.

  • Thereafter, select all the leftover registry entries on the Application uninstall cleanup window; and press the Next button.
  • Restart Windows after removing the backup software.

8. Add Acronis VSS Doctor to Windows

Acronis VSS Doctor is freeware software designed to resolve VSS errors. It analyzes your desktop’s or laptop’s current VSS configuration, checks all the VSS services and even repairs some VSS errors. So running that software in Windows might also resolve a variety of VSS issues. The software is compatible with Windows platforms from XP up. Press the Download button on this webpage to save the VSS Doctor’s setup wizard. Note that the software also requires .NET Framework 3.5.

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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