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Tip: Free-up hard drive space by decreasing space used by Shadow Copy Storage
Posted By Jeremy On March 6, 2012 @ 8:00 AM In Tips 'n Tricks | 13 Comments
Let’s start this article with a story. A little while ago, when I turned on my PC, I noticed one of my backup drives had significantly less free space than it should have (approximately 50 GB of space unused space was not available). I didn’t understand how this space was missing because I had not saved any data to the drive since the last time I had turned my PC off. I checked all the files I had on the drive. The storage space used by the files was about 50 GB less than the total used space being reported on my drive. I ran the scan disk tool in Windows to see if there were any errors on the drive, noting none. So where did this 50 GB mysteriously go? I was stumped. I ended up getting frustrated, backed up my data to a different drive, and reformatted the seemingly corrupted drive. After reformatting the drive, it was back to normal.
Fast forward into the future and something similar happened to me with another drive. This time I wasn’t about to flinch in the face of pure evil. Rather, I did some research and realized the “mysteriously disappearing space” is due to Shadow Copy Storage.
Shadow Copy Storage is the place on your hard drives where shadow copies are stored by Volume Shadow Copy Service. Shadow copies may differ depending on the type of Windows you have but generally speaking, shadow copies are essentially System Restore points.
By default Windows sets aside 15% of total hard drive capacity or 30% of available free space for Shadow Copy Storage. You can check how much space is used by Shadow Copy Storage for your hard drives by:
…and hit Enter on your keyboard.
(Typically you’ll see 15% of hard drive is the maximum amount that can be allowed to Shadow Copy Storage but in my case it is 1% because I have already reduced it.)
As mentioned above, by default Shadow Copy Storage typically uses 15% of total hard drive capacity. Simply deleting System Restore points does not recover this hard drive space. The only way to recover this space is to reduce the amount of space consumed by Shadow Copy Storage.
To reduce the amount of space used by Shadow Copy Storage on your hard drives, do the following:
Note: This guide is for Windows Vista and Win7. Windows XP users can easily reduce the amount of space given to System Restore by right-clicking on My Computer -> Properties -> System Restore -> selecting a drive -> Settings -> moving the slider.
Take note MaxSize can be in KB, MB, GB, TB, PB, or EB. Also note MaxSize should be set at 300MB or higher or else bad things will happen.
Repeat this process for all the hard drives which you want Shadow Copy Storage to be reduced.
dotTechies should be aware that there are drawbacks for resizing Shadow Copy Storage. The obvious drawback is if you set Shadow Copy Storage too low then System Restore – and whatever else is using Shadow Copy Storage – won’t function properly. Another drawback is resizing Shadow Copy Storage may cause your current System Restore points to be deleted.
Generally speaking, with hard drives being so large nowadays, it is not a good idea to modify Shadow Copy Storage space on your main drive. If you insist on modifying on your main drive, be sure to give it enough space for System Restore to function properly. I leave mine at 7% of total capacity.
If you ever find yourself in a sticky HDD storage situation, reducing Shadow Copy Storage may be a potential solution. Is it the best solution? I don’t know. Shadow Copy Storage has been reworked and made leaner in Windows 8 because, according to Microsoft, it has a “negative impact on performance” and is not used often. So maybe we are justified in reducing Shadow Copy Storage. Or maybe we aren’t. Who truly knows. Whatever the case may be, I’d suggest keeping this tip in mind if you are in urgent need of extra storage capacity.
[First image credit: TheBankBall ]
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