How do I setup the Shadow Copy Client? How do I use the Shadow Copy feature?

by Daniel Petri - January 8, 2009

Shadow Copy Restore is a component of the intelligent file storage technologies in Microsoft Windows Server 2003. It enables you to prevent data loss by creating and storing shadow copies of files and folders on your network at predetermined time intervals.

How the Client User Interface Works

Shadow copies can be accessed by computers running Windows Server 2003, on which Shadow Copies of Shared Folders is a native function. Shadow copies can also be accessed by computers running Windows XP Professional, Windows 2000 Server, Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows 98 on which the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client has been installed.

The Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client pack installs a Previous Versions tab in the Properties dialog box of files and folders on network shares.

Users access shadow copies with Windows Explorer and by selecting one of three options—View, Copy, or Restore, which are located on the newly installed Previous Versions tab.

The above screenshot shows how the Previous Versions tab in the Properties dialog box looks to the end user. This view is consistent for both files and folders. The UI is consistent in all supported client operating systems.

When users view a network folder hosted on a server running Windows Server 2003, they can ask to see all old versions of a file or directory. Viewing the properties of the file or folder will present users with the folder or file history—a list of read-only, point-in-time copies of the file or folder contents that users can then open and explore like any other file or folder. Users can view files in the folder history, copy files from the folder history, and so on.

Client UI Setup

End user setup of the client UI is as simple as installing any kind of simple application plug-in.

Shadow copies can be accessed only by computers on which the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software (Twcli32.msi) has been installed. For Windows Server 2003, Shadow Copies of Shared Folders works by default. For Windows XP Professional, the code is available on the Windows Server 2003 CD at %Windir%\System32\Clients\Twclient\X86.

You can install this file manually on clients or deploy the file by using the software distribution component of Group Policy.

Client computers running Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Home, Windows 2000 Server (SP3 and above), and Windows 2000 Professional, and Windows 98 can also access shadow copies after the Shadow Copies of Shared Folders client software has been installed. See links on the left for a link to download the client setup, or visit Windows 2003 - Download Shadow Copy Client.

Note: If these operating systems have not yet been deployed on client computers, one or more computers that users can use to restore previous versions of files can be deployed. If it is better to have end users perform self-service downloads, the file size of the client is 290 KB. Download time will vary depending upon the speed at which end users connect to the network or computer hosting the client file. End users should be advised accordingly.

Note: Client computers running Windows NT Server version 4.0, Windows NT Workstation version 4.0, or Windows Millennium Edition are not supported at this time.

Recovery of Files or Folders

There are three fundamental situations in which most end users find themselves at one time or another when they use their computers. These scenarios include:

  • Accidental file deletion, the most common situation.
  • Accidental file replacement, which occurs for example, when users forget to use Save As.
  • File corruption.

It is possible to recover from all of these scenarios by accessing shadow copies. The process is a little different when accessing a file compared to accessing a folder.

Important: End users should be notified regarding how frequently shadow copies of the selected volume will be made. End users should also be made aware that there is a maximum of 64 shadow copies, after which the earliest copy is purged.

Recovering a Deleted File

To recover a deleted file, use the following procedure:

  1. Navigate to the folder in which the deleted file had been stored.
  2. Position the cursor over a blank space in the folder. If the cursor hovers over a file, that file will be selected.
  3. Right-click the mouse and select Properties from the bottom of the menu. Select the Previous Versions tab.
  4. Select the version of the folder that contains the file before it was deleted, and then click View.
  5. View the folder and select the file that will be recovered.
  6. Drag and drop, or cut and paste, the shadow copy to the desktop or folder on the end user’s local machine.

Recovering an Overwritten or Corrupted File

Recovering an overwritten or corrupted file is easier than recovering a deleted file because the file itself can be right-clicked instead of the folder. To recover an overwritten or corrupted file use the following procedure:

  1. Right-click the overwritten or corrupted file and click Properties.
  2. Select Previous Versions.
  3. If you want to view the old version, click View. To copy the old version to another location, click Copy... To replace the current version with the older version, click Restore.

Recovering a Folder

To recover a folder use the following procedure:

  1. Position the cursor so that it is over a blank space in the folder that will be recovered. If the cursor hovers over a file, that file will be selected.
  2. Right-click the mouse, select Properties from the bottom of the menu, and then, click the Previous Versions tab.
  3. Choose either Copy or Restore.
  4. Choosing Restore enables the user to recover everything in that folder as well as all subfolders. Selecting Restore will not delete any files.

Links

Windows 2003 Homepage

Introduction to Shadow Copies of Shared Folders

Shadow Copy Client: Accessing Shadow Copies on Windows Server 2003 (488kb)

Storage Services

Shadow Copy FAQ

View an animated demonstration of Volume Shadow Copy Service



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