Change the amount of space used by System Restore

System Restore is a very useful feature of Windows Vista but it has one main drawback. After running for a few weeks, it can use a lot of your hard disk space. With the default settings turned on, System Restore might use up to 15 percent of the space on each disk. For example, if you have a 250GB hard disk drive, System Restore might end up using 37,5GB of it. That is a lot of space.

What can we do to limit the amount of space used by System Restore? In Windows XP making this kind of configuration was pretty easy. You had a slider in the System Properties window that you could move left or right to the desired percentage. Unfortunately this slider was removed from Windows Vista.

In order to configure the amount of space used by System Restore, you need to use a tool called Volume Shadow Copy Administrative Command-Line Tool (or vssadmin.exe).

To access vssadmin.exe we will have to open the command prompt with administrative rights. In order to do that, type “cmd” or “command” in the Start Menu search field. The first result should be cmd.exe or the Command Prompt. If you have UAC turned on, right click on it and select Run as administrator.

Start Menu

The Command Prompt will open. The Volume Shadow Copy Service offers several configuration option. Type vssadmin /? and press Enter to see the list of available options.

If you want to know how much space has been allocated and the maximum amount of space that can be used by System Restore, type vssadmin list shadowstorage and then hit the Enter key.

vssadmin

If you want to change the amount of space used by System Restore, you should use the following command:

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=[drive letter]: /For=[drive letter]: /Maxsize=[maximum size]

MaxSizeSpec must be 300MB or greater and accepts the following suffixes: KB (for kilobytes), MB (for megabytes), GB (for gigabytes), TB (for terabytes), PB (for petabytes) and EB (for exabytes). If a suffix is not supplied, MaxSizeSpec is in bytes. If MaxSizeSpec is not specified, then there will be no limit to the amount of space it may use.

For example, if you want System Restore to use a maximum of 1GB of space for the restore points on drive “C:”, you should type the following:

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /On=C: /For=C: /Maxsize=1GB

vssadmin

The maximum space used by System Restore has now been resized.

Related articles:
System Restore
How to disable or enable System Restore

55 Replies to “Change the amount of space used by System Restore

  1. I followed all of the
    I followed all of the instructions perfectly but it won’t resize for me. I get an error saying ‘/For’ is not recognizable as an internal or external command, operable program or batch file

  2. Yep, I hit the spaces
    Yep, I hit the spaces exactly like it says
    vssadmin resize shadowstorage /On=C: /For=C: /maxsize=2.5GB

    But it still says the same error. I assume it’s me doing something wrong but for the life of me I just can;t figure it out!

  3. OK, I got it. The problem
    OK, I got it. The problem was that I wasn’t running Command Prompt as Administrater. But I fiugured it out . Many thanks for all your help! – Allan

  4. great post
    Thanks for the info.
    I have been fighting with mysterious disk space usage, after reading article I figured
    Vista has reserved 60 GB and using all 60GB for system restore.
    I used ‘windir stat’ which is a great tool to visualize disk usage on XP, but apparently it failed to recognize the
    disk space used by Vista for Restore files.

    1. thanks dear…i also got the
      thanks dear…i also got the problem solved…

      if ever any user wants to see the folder size of all folders at a place use “Disk Size Manager” software.

  5. recovery size
    I followed the instruction above, even got the confirmation of the resize. However, under the computer icon the D drive is still allocated almost 8g. I resized it to 2g? Suggestions?

  6. Tip
    hi, useful article, but it didnt work for me the first time I used it. I tried to make it 3GB, but it wasnt having it. Soo instead I put 3000MB and it wokred like a charm – hope it helps!

  7. System Restore
    Very interesting article. Could the problems I (and many others) have with Backup failures have a similar source of difficulty (Message always “Backup not successful. Shadow copy could not be created due to insufficient storage available..(0x8004231f)” My system has 650GB total hard disk space available
    Have not been able to create backup since purchase in Aug 2007. Also have been unable to successfully make Recovery disks using DVD-R, System tells me “failed” towards end of second disk insertion.

  8. I think I’ve got a problem.
    I did what you told me to do but I resized it to 2GB then I checked how much bytes it was using and realized that it didn’t use much so I resized it again to 1GB then I checked it again and it said it was using 0bytes. I haven’t restart my computer yet and I am just worried if I do will anything happen? I didn’t create any system restore point yet… so please help me! Will anything happen to my computer?

  9. Not working for me 🙁
    Hey i had done the same thing earlier and it worked perfectly…but after that…i had to re-install vista on my lappy….but now the same command is giving me this error:
    “The specified volume shadow association was not found”
    What the hell is this??….please help out… 🙂 🙁

    1. No
      All you are doing is limiting the amount of space that System Restore uses.
      The only thing you should not do is make it too small, as then you will not have any restore points. 300mb is the absolute minimum that it requires, so a size of 1gb or higher will allow you to have several restore points.

  10. Excellent article!
    I wanted System Restore to use MORE of my free hard disk space, to see if it would save more restore Points before points dropped off the bottom of the list. So I followed this tutorial, copying and pasting the line “vssadmin resize shadowstorage /On=C: /For=C: /Maxsize=1GB” and then changing the 1GB to 15GB – and lo and behold it worked a treat!

    If this still does not allow enough Restore Points to be saved, I will run “vssadmin list shadowstorage” and “vssadmin resize shadowstorage /On=C: /For=C: /Maxsize=1GB”again and increase the size to 20GB or more!

    Thank you so much WinTuts for this excellent tutorial!

  11. Error Message
    I used the administrator account yet I received an error message like this…
    “you don’t have the permissions to run this command. please run the window that has elevated administration privilege.”

    what do i do?

  12. Thanks
    At last I can stop System Restore eating up 100gb of space. My C:/ drive storage space was showing as UNBOUNDED, which would leave system restore use up all the space. I have now made it 30GB, which will leave me with plenty of restore points and also plenty of space on my C:/ drive.
    Many thanks for an easy guide.

  13. system restore space
    Hi
    I followed your instructions and the last panel shoiws:
    used shadow copy storeage space: 1.051 GB
    allotted shadow copy storage space: 3.202 GB
    Maxinun shadow copy storage space: 15.513 GB

    Do you think I need to change anything? I am still not running a normal restore. I am considering running a full factory restore. I have a DVD that has the program on it. I did this once before and it took me several hours to get all the up dates installed so you can see why I use that as a last resort. Thanks for the help. Bob

  14. Thanx
    Thanks for the great tutorial..I have been searching for the reason behind my drive space usage problem..
    I use Acronis True Image for weekly image backups as my main restore feature and before this tutorial my backups were huge..( almost 100 GB each ) Now I seem to have freed about 98 GB of hard drive space and hopefully my backups will be much smaller..

    Thanks again for the help!!!

  15. Good Info but…
    Thanks for the informative article. If only it were useful info…
    What are your recommendations for the “correct” size of the system restore space? It’s good to know HOW to change it, but it might great to know WHAT to change it to.

    Thanks.

  16. 184Gb restored!
    Wow! So glad I found this. I’ve recently trialled and removed a few program suites, and suddenly found my disk space disappearing. I deleted or archived some data, but it still kept disappearing. I was advised to turn off System Restore before checking for viruses, and that released 184.3Gb! And I thought SWMBO and the kids were saving lots of data…

    When I ran vssadmin, it reported the maximum space as “UNBOUNDED”, which is why it kept on growing. So I cut and pasted the command line and it worked fine

    MANY THANKS!

  17. Works Great!
    I’ve been rooting around in the interface of Vista for months trying to figure out a way to do this, and I’m no stranger to the command line, I just never knew about the command until now. Thanks for this! Windows was sucking up 7-9G every few days, then I’d clean it and regain the space only to find it used up again. We only have an 80G drive and store lots of pics and video, so this really helped a lot. I just hope it really does work.

  18. No items found that satisfy the query.?
    when i tiype in the instuctions this is what im getting

    C:Windowssystem32>vssadmin /?
    vssadmin 1.1 – Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
    (C) Copyright 2001-2005 Microsoft Corp.

    —- Commands Supported —-

    List Providers – List registered volume shadow copy providers
    List Shadows – List existing volume shadow copies
    List ShadowStorage – List volume shadow copy storage associations
    List Volumes – List volumes eligible for shadow copies
    List Writers – List subscribed volume shadow copy writers
    Resize ShadowStorage – Resize a volume shadow copy storage association

    C:Windowssystem32>vssadmin list shadowstorage
    vssadmin 1.1 – Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
    (C) Copyright 2001-2005 Microsoft Corp.

    No items found that satisfy the query.

    C:Windowssystem32>

    could this be because i have a partitioned drive? there is 55gb missing and i think its this system restore

  19. Resize clears the restore data
    If you resize to a smaller value than your current used space, it clears all the restore data.

    i.e.: I had 4.776GB of 8.0GB of shadow storage used. I changed my Maxsize to 500MB. When I checked the space used it was 0.

  20. Allowcation of of ShadowStorage
    I’ve been able to increase the shadow Storage to a Maxium figure, but
    I can’t find any information of how to change the allocation of storage.
    My allocated storage space is zero.
    Which is surely the reason System Restore is not working on my machine.
    Can any one help. Thankyou

  21. Thank You
    Wow, excellent. I was skeptical at first: commandline? Microsoft really must not want us tampering with this. I didn’t think this was the reason 12 GB of my disk space went missing *immediately* after deleting it; I thought it was Explorer glitching (it glitches all the time… free disk space fluctuates faster than I can access my harddrive), but then I read the comments about how people saved 12 GB, 55 GB, 80 GB!!! I took some before-and-after screen shots and followed your steps and I got 12 GB back!!!! Now I have 23 free GB left, as I should have! If I hadn’t done this now, I would’ve lost up to 24GB and been broke once more!!! I’m gonna have to forward this everyone I know!!!! Shifty Microsoft. For the longest time I thought I just kept putting very large files to the hard drive and forgetting about them!!! No. I’m not insane — MS is just plain stupid!!! (btw I resized it to 4GB)

  22. Thank you!
    I landed here from

    Thank you!
    I landed here from Google 🙂

    I had over 185GB space taken up by shadow copies.. hardly had any drive space left at all. Maxsize was “unbounded”.
    Vista was slowed to a crawl & I was getting disk space warning popups.
    Finally added myself to ACL on System Volume Information folder as I suspected it might be storing more than 15% ..
    250GB drive — shows 221
    After vssadmin tips — now back to having over 180GB free.
    Reset Perms on system volume information & now all is well.

    Thanks again!

  23. ‘Run as Administrator’ not available from ‘Command Prompt’
    When I click on the command prompt ‘run as administrator’ does not come up as an option. I did obtain access to it a couple of years ago and when I finished I typed in ‘net user administrator /active:no’.
    This might have someting to do with why I am unable to access it, so if anyone has any ideas I would be very grateful

  24. vista backup
    Thankyou. i did’nt realise Vista used up so much disk space for back up or for windows it’s self. Hopefully now i get get my laptop to work at something that resembles normal.
    Tree size free is a great liitle bit of software that breaks down how much a file on each drive is using disk space.

  25. Thanks a lot!
    I’ve been trying to change the space that system restore takes up, and now I did thanks to this. Now I have 5GB off my C: drive and it’s running faster now. Again, thanks a lot.

  26. Wipes out ALL Restore Points
    I am glad to be able now to increase my measly 300mb of Restore space to 1GB thanks to the vssadmin command. I only had like 5 restore points due to the limited space of 300mb, and since my Start Menu folders all disappeared the other day in Vista, I was outta luck. The Retore Points only went back a few days, so it dropped off a RP where I could have gotten my programs back in Start Menu (But that is another problem to try to solve somewhere else).

    BUT…..
    Beware, the vssadmin with parameters to enlarge the space size, deleted ALL my previous Restore Points. Maybe that was mentioned in the article, but I didn’t see it.

    BEWARE

  27. Thanks for the solution
    I, too, had the problem of a disk partition filing up with System Restore points and shadow copies. It came out of nowhere after years of using this computer.

    This advice and the CSRF tool worked great.

    Thanks for solving my problem.

  28. I am running the command
    I am running the command prompt as administrator. I’m completely sure I typed the command correctly. I tried it multiple times but it still won’t work. I get an error that says “Error: The specified volume shadow copy storage association was not found.” What should I do?

  29. its is so absurd
    so easy to recover lost gigs… i had 35 gb reserved and 23 gb used… and i was wondering for last 2 months who ate so much of giga bytes…

    this is so absurd that Microsoft does not even want to recognize this small little fact that the today’s hard drives only need 1-2 gig of system restore… why lock in 15% of gigs … when 2 gig can store 4-5 system restores…. or 5 gig to store restore for a month or so…

  30. System Restore Max Allocation
    Thanks for the guide. Very useful, I was able to change the maximum size. However, when I checked the current storage settiings, not only was I shown the maximum size, I was also shown the maximum allocation. The latter was set at 300MB and the former was set at 1GB. My question is how do I change the maximum allocation?

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