My question is about how to manage the rotation (i.e., automatic deletion) of old backups when using Windows Server Backup.

I'm using Windows Backup on a Windows Server 2016 system. I know that backups are created as shadow copies on the destination drive I choose. However, I can't seem to get the rotation of the backups (deletion of the old shadow copies) to work correctly.

My backup destination is a separate hard drive (not the boot or OS drive). I have manually set a maximum shadow copy size on this drive to 3TB. I assumed that, when this limit is reached, old shadow copies will be deleted so that Windows Server Backup can save a new backup. However, this doesn't seem to be what's happening.

When the limit of 3TB is reached, I get the following message in Event Viewer:

The shadow copies of volume T: were deleted because the shadow copy storage could not grow in time.  Consider reducing the IO load on the system or choose a shadow copy storage volume that is not being shadow copied.

After that, I find that ALL shadow copies on the disk have been deleted, which means that I have now lost all backups!

I've reviewed Microsoft's documents and done a number of searches for solutions, but it remains unclear to me how I'm supposed to configure shadow copy storage on my destination drive so it deletes old backups as needed.

Some have suggested I should set the shadow copy limit to "unlimited". But I do want to limit it -- I would prefer not to let my backups grow unbounded until the disk is full.

Can anyone explain how shadow copy growth can be managed, and how I can achieve the automatic removal of old backups?

Thank you very much for any help!

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    I have a big problem assuming this is relevant in a properly managed business environment (which is on the lsit of requirements for this site). No decently manages system I have seen in like 20 ears uses windows server backup. – TomTom Sep 18 '18 at 11:43
  • Windows Server Backup is a component of the Windows Server OS, and its use is recommended by Microsoft. We use it as one of several tools for managing backups. While you may not personally prefer it, that doesn't make this question irrelevant or off topic. – A.J. Sep 18 '18 at 11:57
  • That is your argument, and mine is different. Now, if I am wrong - you have nothing to fear. If you are wrong, then your question gets closed because more people agree with me. And btw., I fail to see MS recommending it - when they actally sell Data Protection Manager for any more complex setup. No recommendtation here, sorry. – TomTom Sep 18 '18 at 12:00
  • Pretty sure Windows Backup doesn't have that feature. If you want to do that, you'd have to use other tools, like creating powershell scripts to manage the size/age of your backups, or a whole enterprise backup solution. – Nixphoe Sep 19 '18 at 18:10
  • Thanks for your comment. It appears Windows Server Backup doesn't have this feature, but my understanding of shadow copies suggests that they should automatically expire as they hit their limit on disk space, with the oldest being deleted first. I think the real issue is with VSS, but sadly the error message I reported above is poorly documented. – A.J. Sep 19 '18 at 22:27

I tried using Windows Server Backup but didn't really like it and was advised to try Veeam free backup solutions. It gets the job done and I would also recommend you to take a look at it and try it out.


  • Thanks for your comment. I am indeed using Veeam as a backup solution on this system, and it is good software. But I'd like to find out why my backups using Windows Server Backup aren't being retained as expected. – A.J. Sep 19 '18 at 22:13
  • Got it, if I come across anything will let you know. – P.Pauls Sep 27 '18 at 18:18

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