Posted on April 1, 2016 · Posted in Windows Server 2012 R2

How to Clean Up “System Volume Information” Folder

On one of the servers (running Windows Server 2012 R2) I faced a problem with the lack of free space on a system drive. I have cleared all resource-consuming locations (WinSxS, TEMP directories, user profiles, outdated updates, etc.), but it didn’t have any evident effect. At last, I have found that a large part of a system disk has been occupied by System Volume Information folder. Let’s consider why we need System Volume Information folder in Windows systems, what is stored in it and how to clean up it.

Note. The instructions given in this article are applicable to other Windows versions as well: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 2008 R2, Windows 2012 / 2012 R2.

System Volume Information folder is in the root of each disk. System data related to system recovery and Shadow Copy Service are stored in it. By default it is hidden and only the SYSTEM has access to it. Even the administrator cannot open it and look through the contents of the folder. To view the contents of the folder, you have to assign yourself as the directory owner and give your account the NTFSpermissions to access it.

Folder System Volume Information

What is stored in System Volume Information folder? I found information about the following services, which store their files in this folder (the list is not exhaustive):

  1. System restore points on client systems or System State backups made using Windows Server Backup (wbadmin) in server OSs
  2. The contents of Indexing Service database used for fast file search
  3. Distributed Link Tracking Service database
  4. Disk snapshots  made by Volume Shadow Copy, which can be used to recover older versions of files
  5. Disk quota settings
  6. The database of file deduplication service

When using shadow copies, each new VSS snapshot is stored in System Volume Information folder. The more often the shadow copies are created and data on the disk are changed, the faster the size of this folder grows.

System Volume Information vss files

Note. It is not recommended to manually delete files in System Volume Information folder, since important information necessary for system recovery is stored in it.

Firstly, let’s see what is stored in this directory. Display the statistics of using shadow copies:

vssadmin list shadowstorage

vssadmin list shadowstorage
vssadmin 1.1 – Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2001-2013 Microsoft Corp.
Shadow Copy Storage association
For volume: (E:)\\?\Volume{5a419164-9eba-11e5-84c5-004046bbefbb}\
Shadow Copy Storage volume: (E:)\\?\Volume{5a419164-9eba-11e5-84c5-004046bbefbb}\
Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 3.08 MB (0%)
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 896 MB (1%)
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 19.0 GB (29%)
Shadow Copy Storage association
For volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{843c6330-9866-11e5-80b3-806e6f6e6942}\
Shadow Copy Storage volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{843c6330-9866-11e5-80b3-806e6f6e6942}\
Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 912 MB (2%)
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 1.20 GB (3%)
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 3.98 GB (10%)

As we can see, 10% of space is dedicated to snapshot files on drive C:\ and only 2% of them are occupied. If the value of Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space is UNBOUNDED, it means that the limit for shadow copies is not set and they may occupy all free space on the disk. By default, the system gives 10% of the total disk space to store this data.

Reduce the limit of the disk space used by VSS to 2 GB with the following command:

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

In our example it will look like this:

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=c: /for=c: /maxsize=2GB

vssadmin resize shadowstorage
vssadmin 1.1 – Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2001-2013 Microsoft Corp.
Successfully resized the shadow copy storage association

If you create system state backups using Windows Server Backup, the old system state copies can be deleted as follows:

wbadmin delete systemstatebackup -keepversions:0

wbadmin delete systemstatebackup -keepversions:0

In Windows 7/8/10 you can manage recovery points and limits from GUI. In the system properties (System), go to System Protection tab.

disable system protection

By pressing Configure, we proceed to the settings of quotas for restore point storage. You can delete the existing restore points here.

 

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