Best Practice Ezine #27

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Guy’s Best Practice & Litmus Tests Ezine #27 – Shadow Copy

Suppose a user wished to recover yesterday’s version of their word document. How much would it cost you to restore that one file?  If you implement Shadow Copy, then the user can recover the file themselves and there would be no cost to you at all.

Contents for Ezine #27

Introduction to Shadow Copy

Volume Shadow Copy is one of the best new features of Windows Server 2003.  You may see in the press the following names for this service: Previous Version, Shadow Copy of Shared folders, Volume Shadow Copy.  Here we have a rare event, a feature which is loved by both users and Tech Support.  Users like Shadow Copy or ‘Previous Version’ because it gives them the power to retrieve a copy of a file that they made yesterday but made a mistake today.  Tech Support like this new feature because it saves them a boring and time consuming job of retrieving a file from last night’s backup.

Here are some terms used to describe Volume Shadow Copy :

  • Automatic backup for shared folders
  • Poor man’s version control.  Retrieve older copies of files with twclient.
  • An add-on for backing up open files in Windows 2003
  • A Recycle bin for network shares

What you need to do at the server end

Shadow Copy is only available on Server 2003 machines and naturally you need NTFS (not FAT32).  Configuration is easy, just click on the root of the any drive, Select a Volume, now press the Settings button.  A crucial point is that Shadow Copy only works on network shares, and not on plain un-shared folders.  So in passing, note that the number of shares for each volume.  ‘Best Practice’ suggests that you place the ‘Shadow’ on a separate disk or at least on a separate partition.  Personally, I would dedicate a disk to this service thereby improving performance.  To change the drive, select the ‘Details Button’.

Microsoft provide a schedule of two shadow copies a day, at 7:00 am and 12:00.  You may wish to adjust these timings.  When you select a schedule bear in mind that when you reach 64 shadows, the system starts over-writing.  So make a calculation of how far back you would like to keep copies.  My point is that if you go mad and schedule every hour, then you will start over writing within 3 days.  Is that desirable?  Would you want copies to be over-written so soon?  I think not both on the grounds of load on the server and on how long you would want to retain previous versions.

To see configuration diagrams,Check here

</a> </font> </h2>Shadow Copy Client side

What the clients see is ‘Previous Version’ when they connect to the file on the server share.  However, to see this extra tab the XP machines need a TWClient (Shadow Copy Client), so firstly, share out this folder:

Next send a memo to your users explaining how to install the client.  Perhaps an even better idea would be to install twclient via a Software Group Policy.

Finally, when the clients need to retrieve a previous version of a file, explain to your users how to connect to the share on the server, and then select the ‘Previous Version’ tab from the file in question.  To test Shadow Copy you need to make sure that the server has created a Shadow copy and also that the file has been altered compared to the original.

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Another use of Volume Shadow Copy

Another use of this Volume Shadow Copy technology is with Windows 2003’s backup (much improved over Windows 2000), always make sure Volume Shadow Copy is enabled.  That way you can be sure that any open files will be included in the backup.  Fortunately, by default, Volume Shadow Copy is selected, my advice is to leave the setting enabled.


Shadow copy, or Volume Shadow copy is one of the hidden jewels of Windows Server 2003, take the time to setup shadows on your file servers, and roll out the twclient via group policy.  Finally, send a memo to your users explaining how to access the ‘Previous Version’ tab of their network files.

To see configuration diagrams,Check here

Lots of useful disk and file articles

Windows 8 Files  •Windows 8 ReFS   •Windows 8  •Free Event Log Viewer  • Ezines

E 147 Disk Problems  • E 141 Defrag  • E 114 SFC  • E 77 Disk Failures  •E 66 WinFS  • SNMP Enabler

E 38 Achilles’ heel  •E 27 Shadow Copy  •E 4 Backup  •E 3 Diskspace  •Log & Event Manager (LEM)