(I looked pretty hard and couldn't find an appropriate previous question, but I have to think this has been asked...somebody please point me at a duplicate?)

Is there any way to disable (or restrict to 0% disk space) the 'Previous Versions' functionality on files in Windows 7 without disabling System Restore or the Volume Shadow Copy service (this service in particular needs to be running for another particular application that requires it)?

Just hiding the UI elements is not sufficient; I don't want these backup copies being written to any files that aren't going to be restored in the System Restore process. (A list of what directories System Restore doesn't care about would be a nice start, but I'm guessing it's not that specific.)


Show your actual VSS-Storage-limitations with vssadmin list shadowstorage.

Resize it with vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=C: /on=C: /maxsize=10GB
For Maxsize you can use percentage (/maxsize=3%), unlimited (/maxsize=UNBOUNDED) or MB/GB (/maxsize=10GB).

Edit: you must at least specify 300MB for shadowstorage.

I think I found something that should work. According to this Blogpost you can stop the VSS-Service and configure it to start manually. That should prevent the System from doing Shadow-Copies. If you want to restore or create a System-Restore-Point, the service will be started automatically.

However Windows 7 creates System-Restore-Points periodically. If you don't want Windows to do this, you can modify the scheduled task like described on How-To Geek.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you've additional questions.

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  • This doesn't address the question at all. I'm talking about the actual creation of copies, not the restrictions on the VSS service itself. – Shinrai May 20 '11 at 1:51
  • I thought it's possible to set that to 0%. But it isn't ;) You could set it to 300MB in order to let the system create less copies... I didn't found a solution to disable VSS for the systemdrive yet. – wullxz May 20 '11 at 11:22
  • The problem isn't the space taken up by the copies, it's concerns about disk throttling and excess writes (which is probably actually made worse by reducing disk space because it has to more frequently erase the older files) – Shinrai May 20 '11 at 12:58
  • You could try to exclude Directories from VSS – wullxz May 20 '11 at 13:24
  • Is there a canonical list somewhere of which directories System Restore functionality needs access to? I'd guess pretty much the entire drive, so that's not a guaranteed workaround. (If you can find one you're my hero and I'll bounty this just to give you extra rep.) – Shinrai May 20 '11 at 14:51

There's really nothing you can do to fine tune what is included by Volume Shadow Copy (VSC)--it's going to make a shadow copy of the entire protected partition. At a higher level, though, you could probably help yourself (with respect to your concerns) by placing your data files (My Documents) or even all of your user files (including AppData, etc.) on a separate partition than your system files. Then the shadow copy on your system partition would include only system files, and you could decide whether to enable System Protection on your data partition (in order to have Restore Previous Versions available).

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  • Welcome to Super User, and thanks for the great suggestion. Unfortunately, in this particular situation we have no control over where the end users in these scenarios will be putting files, and no opportunity to educate them in the hows and whys. – Shinrai Jun 18 '11 at 14:23

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