Two applications we use have been crashing whenever an hourly backup kicks off on our file server. The server is running Windows 2000, and lacks the volume shadow copy service.

Sounds to me like a good reason to get rid of the server and upgrade to a current OS, but I keep seeing conflicting information about VSS and Windows 2000. I can see it was introduced in Server 2003, but I have yet to find a Microsoft article to back up my assertions that there is no workaround to this problem.

Is there any way to install VSS, or any way to avoid file locks while backing up a Windows 2000 machine? (I hope the answer is 'no'.)

  • Nope. I'm pretty positive that VSS was introduced in W2K3. You should look into a backup product (like BackupExec) that can perform application aware backups and that has it's own snapshot provider.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:17
  • @joeqwerty - great minds think alike
    – TheCleaner
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:18
  • BE has its own snapshot provider?
    – MDMarra
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:21
  • 2
    @MDMarra - yes, Veritas created VSP (Volume Snapshot Provider) back in the day. Old article but relevant history: symantec.com/connect/articles/advanced-open-file-option
    – TheCleaner
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:23
  • Also, the BE VSS provider states Windows 2000 only so I'm assuming they created it for this exact use case.
    – joeqwerty
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:25

3 Answers 3



The VSS service (writers) isn't available in Windows 2000. The client itself can be installed (like on XP), but that only allows for access to shadow copies on other systems (previous versions).

As far as backups go, it depends on the backup software. BackupExec with their "Advanced Open File Option" and others offered their own way of backing up open files with or without a lock with Windows 2000.

So the answer technically is "Yes, there is a way to backup open files in Windows 2000" but it would require 3rd party software.


Some of the enterprise backup solutions have ways around this. E.g., TSM: http://www.redbooks.ibm.com/abstracts/tips0107.html I don't know how they managed to get around the VSS limitations of older verison of Windows, but it always did a great job.

Unfortunately, I think I just gave you some hope that it can be done, even without VSS, but I didn't give you a practical answer. Note the "fuzzy" backup of files they talk about. VSS doesn't do this, so it might give you ammunition to convince management to upgrade the OS.

OTOH, even with VSS, the files aren't "closed" when backed up, and will likely have to go through the apps consistency checks on restore. Always keep multiple backups and occasionally test restore.

Good luck :-)


This page list requirements of XP and later. A page linked of this one does not mention Windows 2000. This page lists a client for 2000 but only for accessing shadow copies on a 2003 server. It is not for backup. Finally all the third party sites listed below suggest different approaches for 2000 vs 2003 which further enforces that VSS does not work on 2000.

There were/are third-party options available. We used Backup Exec with the Advanced Open File. You should be able to find a copy on ebay. BackupAssist also has an Advanced Open File option in their current version. See documentation here.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .