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Volume Shadow Copy (VSS) previous version tab on Windows 2003 server missing / not there.

Posted on 2012-03-19
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-08-14
Hi all,

The old age question of VSS - please hear me out before crucifying me...

I have been running VSS for a long time now, no problems and saved my behind many times!

Well this is a routine check, every so often I see if I can restore something from VSS to make sure all is well. But I am finding something strange though. I have two Windows 2003 STD servers, one domain controller and the other one a Terminal server.

1) Server (Also Fileserver)
2) Terminal Server

I usually log on to my Terminal server to recover a file from VSS on the other "server", by doing the following:

1) On the Terminal server I would \\server to see all the shares
2) I would right-click on the share and click on properties
3) At the top, I would see "Previous Versions" which I would select to go back to previous versions for restore purposes.

The problem is, now there is no "Previous Tab" it is missing, gone and I cant find it. It use to be there before, now it is just gone. I have checked the following:

1) on the "server" the event viewer, there is no error logs of VSS.
2) I have set the size limit of VSS to "Unlimited" it use to be 50gb's for in case it ran out of space (which it should just replacing older copies if i does run out of space)
3) and if all else failed, reboot the "server" (which also did not work)

Please let me know where my "Previous Version" Tab had gone to.

Question by:wimpie_asg
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LVL 42

Expert Comment

by:Adam Brown
ID: 37738730
Have you checked to make sure the volume shadow copy service is enabled and running?

Author Comment

ID: 37739060
If all else fails....switch the PC on....

Well, I don't know what to say.

I suppose that should have been the first thing to check. What through me off guard was the fact the today's VSS restore was there... So if the service is stopped (not disabled), it would still create a snapshot? Please see picture attached, it created a snapshot if I went to "server" right-click on the drive that had VSS, go to "Shadow Copies" there was today's snapshot. And even after a server restart, it never started automatically? It is set to Manual, would it stop if it runs out of the "preconfigured" space that it is allowed to use?
The service on the server that was running VSS was stopped. It was set to Manual, but was stopped. Even after a server restart it never came to the "started" state. Why would the service of stopped by itself, and still managed to create a snapshot?

Anyway - thanks for the hint, it was the right one though. I will just go to bed now...

LVL 42

Accepted Solution

Adam Brown earned 2000 total points
ID: 37739180
The snapshot system for VSS starts the service, creates a snapshot, and shuts the service down if it isn't started when the snapshot starts. Some software can re-configure the settings for the service so it goes to manual instead of automatic in services, which would result in the service being in a stopped state on the next reboot. Manual services won't start at reboot and will only start when instructed to by an administrator or by a piece of software. So set it to automatic and you shouldn't have too much trouble with it. One of the things I've done in the past to stop software from changing the startup status of VSS is deploy a GPO that forces the status to Automatic and denies permission for changing the status to everyone.

Author Comment

ID: 37739311

I have noticed in event viewer now that it has the following:

source: ESENT
Category: ShadowCopy
Type: Information (not an error)
EventID: 2003

Descriptiom: wins (1908) Shadow copy 5 freeze stopped.

VSS is stopped now, but I can still access "Previous version" from the Terminal server while it is stopped.(Something I could not of done before I manually started it)

I have gone back in the log and noticed it has done (stopped and started) by itself many times before, but I have never had the issue where I could not access "Previous versions" tab from the properties tab before. I am still sceptic, I have a feeling the previous versions tab should never have disappeared since the VSS service does stop and start allot (pretty much after every snapshot it takes)

Just an FYI - When I manually started it, and I could access my Previous Versions tab again from my Terminal server, I have lost all my snapshots. I could not see all the dates it had taken snapshots (a whole month and 15 days) after I manually started the service. At least this has happened to me now, and not in a time of need.

It pays to check up on these things on a daily basis I tell you!


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