I'm running Vista Prof 32bit on a lenovo w500 thinkpad. I have four external drives and use 4 different PCs, that all have system volume information folders, taking up lots of space, and I can't delete them.

I don't even know which computer's files are backed up on which external.

I've used Thinkvantage rescue and recovery to delete all backups, as well as checked system restore settings to only use my main C drive. I checked all the PC's to ensure only the Main drive keeps system restore points and deleted previous versions. I ran Disc Clean up too.

But I can't figure out how to get rid of these large folders from my external drives.

7 Answers 7


The solution is take ownership of the directory "System Volume Information":

Assuming the external drive is named G, Start cmd.exe using "Run as administrator" and type:

cd \
takeown /r /f "System Volume Information"

Answer "y" for yes when asked if to replace all permissions.

This will replace the existing owner SYSTEM by yourself, so you can delete the directory.


In Windows 7 & Vista you'll need to check that you're the real administrator:
Unhiding the "real" Administrator account

  • comment from Nadude: @harrymc I just upgraded to win7, and i tried your method, but got the following error. "ERROR: File ownership cannot be applied on insecure file systems; there is no support for ACLs" May 8, 2010 at 14:37
  • @Nadude: See my edit. Does that help?
    – harrymc
    May 8, 2010 at 17:43

Boot to the Recovery Console or a Linux Live CD and delete them. Windows makes it very difficult to delete them while it's running. Before you do it though make sure they won't show up again when you restart windows.

Go to Control Panel → System → System Protection → Make sure that it is off on the external drives.

  • comment from Nadude: @Marcin I dont know how to boot to recovery console/live cd. May 8, 2010 at 14:38


RMDIR /s /q

This is for removing a directory in Windows 7. It's the same as DELTREE in DOS.


Plug your external drive into any Mac running OS X or any computer running a Linux distro (e.g., Ubuntu). Find the 'System Volume Information' folder. Drag it to the Trash. Eject the drive. Done!


I'm on Windows 7 trying to delete the restore points in System Volume Information in an external drive with FAT32. I tried takeown and it returned "ERROR: File ownership cannot be applied on insecure file systems". So I right clicked the drive, chose Properties, Sharing, Advanced Sharing, Share this folder, Permissions, Add, my username on Windows 7, Full Control. Then I went Computer, Network, "System Volume Information" appeared there, I clicked on it and from there I was able to delete the restore points manually.


The Solution I found to work - after trying innumerable numbers of commands- was this (from the linked Forum):

there's a simple way to do so : (the quotation marks are NOT needed, except if specified before)

considering you have Total Control on the folder "System Volume Information" :

Step 1 : click on "Start" type "run" and press Enter (or step 1 :Win+R)

step 2 : in the command prompt window called "Run" type "cmd" and press Enter

Step 3 : type the drive letter and a semicolon and press Enter (eg: "I:" and press enter)

Step 4 : the quotation marks are needed for this step type : rmdir "System Volume information" /S /Q Press Enter




I found a folder on my drives called System Volume Information which took up 280 GB of disk space and i could not delete the contents of this folder. Even when taking ownership of the folder or trying to delete via Administrator Command Prompt, it didn't work. Not even with the method directly mentioned above via Sevenforums.com, Unlocker didn't work either. I had system recovery disabled because the certainty of having system recovery points was uncertain, as they disappeared on a regular basis even though enough disk space was allocated. What i did was, i connected the drive to another PC ( in my case HP Pavilion with Windows XP ), opened the System Volume Information folder on the drive and noticed that there was only 2 mb data in there. I also have to mention that System Restore was enabled on the Windows XP PC. After connecting the drive back to my Windows 8 PC the System Volume Information folder contained approximately 2 mb data, and freed up 280 GB data on the disk. I also did this with other external disks and every time the System Volume Information folder shrunk to just a few mb. Hopefully this information can help others with the same problem.

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