How To Reduce Disk Space Used By Windows Vista System Restore


vista.jpgI just upgraded my Computer to Windows Vista and notice that disk space usage is increasing daily. I tracked it down to Vista's System Restore but do not know how to stop it from taking up disk space. Is there a way to reduce the disk space that System Restore uses?

This has become one of the biggest problems with users who made the switch to Windows Vista and have limited disk space. Unlike System Restore in Windows XP, you could adjust the amount of disk usage from XP's Ststem Restore utility.

Vista's System Restore keeps two types of restore points, one for shadow copies of files used to restore previous versions of a file that you want to recover due to corruption or deleting of files, and the typical restoring of a previoius saved system state. System Restore uses up to 15% of each NTFS drive on the system that is at least 1 GB.

To determine how much disk space System Restore is using, the following command can be used:

vssadmin list shadowstorage

For the above command to run you must use elevated privileges:

1 – Click on the Start menu then click All Programs / Accessories.
2 – Right Click on the Command Prompt option and from the drop down menu click on the Run as Administrator option.
3 – At the command prompt type:

vssadmin list shadowstorage

and press Enter

(NOTE: if the command does not run change directories to c:\windows\system32).

After the vssadmin has executed you will see results similar to the following:

Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 237.419 MB
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 400 MB
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 2.092 GB

The output above shows space used on the C:\ drive by System Restore is 237.419 MB.
The maximum space allocated for System restore is 2.092 GB

To view the number of restore points you currently have on your Computer run the following command

vssadmin list shadows

Next, to reduce the allocated space used by Vista's System Restore, use the following command:

vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=[OnVolumeSpec:] /for=[ForVolumeSpec:] /maxsize=[MaxSizeSpec]


  • OnVolumeSpec: is the drive letter, for examaple C
  • ForVolumeSpec: is the drive letter, for example C
  • MaxSizeSpec: is the maximum size you want System Restore to use, example 1GB

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

When decreasing the space allocated to System Restore, you will loose the earlier system restore points. The advantage is gaining extra free space. If you are concerned with losing the previous restore points, wait until you do not need them anymore before reducing the allocated space.

If you plan on upgrading to Windows Vista or running a clean install and will need extra space, consider reducing the space after installation has completed.

It is not recommended to disable System Restore. The capability to restore to a previous point in time or having the new Shadow Copy feature available can be a time saver if something goes wrong or if you delete a file.

Filed under Windows Vista Tips by  #

Comments on How To Reduce Disk Space Used By Windows Vista System Restore Leave a Comment

March 22, 2007

Raven @ 6:50 pm #

You can also delete restore points quite easily in Vista by using Disk Cleanup in Accessories. I did mine that way, and it freed up a nice amount of space. The above is not recommendation listed here is not something a novice should venture into.

March 23, 2007
March 25, 2007

Raven @ 9:35 am #

I understand completely, thank you. But, in reading though the above, I see no recommendation for how much to set the amount of space allocated to Restore Points indicated. For a novice, this can be confusing. Perhaps an idea of the amount of space to give it would be in order. I am sure the author knows what a safe amount is.


April 9, 2007

Allan1 @ 4:31 am #

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

April 10, 2007

Allan1 @ 8:54 am #

Yep I did everything. I had x-setup (latest version) installed and used that to try and adjust the size of system restore. It didn't so I uninstalled it. Do you think it had something to do with this problem?

May 2, 2007

Alex @ 2:52 pm #

Great thanks original poster, just what I wanted. I fail to work out any logic by removing this option. In my case it was taking up 12Gb of a 110Gb drive. I've reduced it to 6Gb.

There is an error in your example though, it should be MaxSize NOT MaxSizeSpec.

Thanks again.


May 6, 2007

genex3m @ 3:38 pm #

thankx. this was an awesome help after i was getting suspicious as to why my hard disk space is decreasing and i google'd to find a way around as i didnt know to manually set the storage parameter to a lesser % provided microsoft havent given any direct option to do so. i have set my max to 1GB as my total is 80GB with C:\ having 20GB partition completely for vista.

Just to be on the safe side. Is this a recommended size i have. Cos i always do backup my much needed files on my external drive and dont need any backup and aint much of a restore point fan. But i would like a professional opinion on this.

ONCE again…thankx a lot! 😀

May 7, 2007
June 7, 2007

froction @ 6:00 pm #

DUDE…GOD BLESS YOU…HOLY #$*@…seriously man…your not gonna believe this…I got a new computer..Dell XPS 410 with 500gb hdd and was so happy, but then, everytime i did something my hdd capacity decreased…it turns out that my System Restore Storage was set at a max of 60 GIGABYTES…GOD DAMN…seriously…thanks alot

June 28, 2007

Jon @ 3:54 am #

I'm with Froction…I got an XPS 410 with a 500GB HDD and thought I was going crazy as I watched my hard drive space dwindle before my eyes. I've been running virus and spyware scans with no success and it's been driving me nuts!! I did a Google search and found this page…thank you so much for your help and wisdom!! I even talked to Dell Support today about my issue, and the guy never once mentioned the System Restore. I did the 'vssadmin list shadowstorage' and found that 38GB of space have been used so far, and a total of 68GB have been allocated for use. In your expert opinion, what would be a reasonable amount to reduce this to…34GB? Please let me know what you would recommend. I thank you in advance for your help and want to let you know that it is greatly appreciated!

July 18, 2007

vuongtutruc @ 4:20 am #

I cannot run vssadmin list shadowstorage. The message is "No items found that satify the query"

August 22, 2007

Steve @ 10:33 pm #

I just ran vssadmin on my new Acer, it told me: "Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: Unbounded". Wow! 22 gigabytes of shadow file on a 32 GB drive partition. I don't know if "Unbounded" is something you could specify, or just the system's response to a malformed or corrupt setup. But, if you wanted to cripple your future ex's Vista computer, "unbounded" would be a good way to do it.

August 23, 2007

vuongtutruc @ 2:02 am #

Here is my problem related to the disk space. Please read this post.
I cannot fix the problem until now.

vuongtutruc @ 8:16 am #

I didn't. I'm worried about whether registry of all other softwares will be influenced or not or they will be wiped out. Give me an advice!

vuongtutruc @ 10:14 am #

Thanks but I won't rebuild it. It's so hard to start reinstalling heap of softs. I'll continue to find what's happening.

August 29, 2007

Carla @ 11:29 pm #

I've been wondering why my Hard Drive keeps decreasing every move
that I make on my laptop. I don't save much on my hdd. And it confuses
me why it decreases so much in a day.
I found out about this strategy of freeing some space on your hard drive.
I followed the steps and retrieved an amount of 18GB of my hard drive.
It went from 81GB to 99GB. I don't really know much about these computer
stuff. But I was also wondering what MaxSize was. Because I set mine to 1GB.
I don't know if that's enough but can anyone help me on this?
Thank you!

August 30, 2007

Dhanur @ 10:41 am #

this thread was extremely useful for me.
i was thinking of restoring my laptop to original configuration….and loosing all of my installed softwares.
It helped me clear up 13GB of free space.
I was surprised to see some people clearing upto 30GB by this!!!
However…after performing the disk cleanup…i still see that 7 GB is still occupied by something.

I know it's a small size to talk about…but can anyone tell me that WHAT is taking up 7GB of my HDD?

genex3m @ 11:44 am #

Hi Dhanur,

Good that you came across this topic to see how you were loosing hard disk space. well that 7gb is being allocated for your current restore points. so if you dont want to use the previous restore points you can delete that and keep the latest restore points.

Carla @ 11:50 pm #

I see.
So System restore is
basically the space you want for your
computer to restore documents and other things?
My laptop contains 120GB of hdd.
Is there an amount of space you can advice me
to increase my System Restore?
Thank you!

August 31, 2007

Dhanur @ 1:43 pm #

well…i checked the space taken up by system restore files by vssadmin list shadowstorage method…and it showed that almost 1gb is occupied for system restore….what about the other 6GB?

September 1, 2007

Carla @ 1:39 pm #

I have read your comment on May 7th,
And now if I take half of 15%, that'll be around 7% right?
Which is 8.4GB in my case since I have a 120GB hdd.
So I can put my MaxSize Restore to 8.4 GB? :}
Sorry, I'm kinda slow on understanding things 😛
"(in your case it may not matter much since you don't use restores)"
is it because he has an external hdd and he can backup his files on there?
Thank you once again!
You've been a great help!

September 14, 2007

Rie @ 8:04 pm #

Wow! thank you so much! I just bought this pc and upgraded to Windows Vista Ultimate after two days of purchase. It was eating up 30 gigs already!! damn! I just did the run command like you said and it worked!! I freed up to 30 gigs…before my HD was only 231 of 289 now it's 265 of 289! not bad, eh?

Thank you very-very much!! I feel so relieved!!

September 19, 2007
September 26, 2007

The Core @ 8:29 pm #

I really needed to find this site. Turns out, my shadow copy limit was unbounded (that's scary). I had been wondering where my hard drive was going.

The Core

September 29, 2007

reg @ 7:54 am #

I too am very appreciative of this post. I was convinced I had a virus since space on a 300gb hard drive was fast diminishing. So fast infact that I began deleting items to keep up. It was only when I started to delete files in system restore that the penny dropped. I too, with your help, discovered that the max storage was set at 'unbounded'. Phew! Saved my life. Saved my marriage. Saved my sanity.

Why would PCWORLD and/or Advent set 'Unbounded' defeats me unless it sends hapless individuals scurrying to their repair department.

September 30, 2007

Bill @ 1:33 pm #

This is a great post. I've recovered over 50G of space. I have a problem however. When using diruse it reports a directory using 69GB called c:\users\william\my documents but that directory while it exists is empty and attempting to delete it returns back directory does not exist. See below:

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6000]
Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Volume in drive C has no label.
Volume Serial Number is E86B-1D35

Directory of C:\Users\William

09/28/2007 01:04 PM .
09/28/2007 01:04 PM ..
03/01/2007 08:24 PM Contacts
09/25/2007 07:46 PM Desktop
09/28/2007 01:11 PM Documents
09/23/2007 07:20 AM Downloads
05/19/2007 08:57 AM Favorites
08/30/2007 10:10 AM Links
04/17/2007 07:16 PM Music
09/28/2007 06:12 PM Pictures
02/20/2007 03:23 PM Saved Games
08/30/2007 10:10 AM Searches
09/25/2007 07:05 PM Videos
0 File(s) 0 bytes
13 Dir(s) 91,740,405,760 bytes free

C:\Users\William>cd my documents

C:\Users\William\My Documents>dir
Volume in drive C has no label.
Volume Serial Number is E86B-1D35

Directory of C:\Users\William\My Documents

File Not Found

C:\Users\William\My Documents>rd my documents
The system cannot find the file specified.
The system cannot find the file specified.

C:\Users\William\My Documents>cd..


The OS is associating exactly the same size and number of files to the "my documents" directory as to the "Documents" folder. I have a similiar problem with a "local settings" directory that exists, has no files in it, cannot be deleted, but diruse returns it using 9GB.

Any thoughts.

thanks in advance.

October 1, 2007
October 13, 2007

Neal @ 2:22 pm #

Still can't find my missing GB's and I don't need/use restore points… I have a Thinkpad w/Vista factory installed. Recently I saw that I have 78GB used of 105GB on my C drive. What the ? I accounted for 43GB in my file system using Disktective but cant find the missing 35GB's… that's a lot more than 15% for Shadow Copy. The analysis tools show folders RRbackups, Documents and Settings, and System Volume Information all without file sizes or space usage info.

How can I see how big these folders are or where else something may be gorging on 35GB's of my data…?

July 2, 2008

Ian @ 7:11 am #

Thanks, I've been struggling with only 7% free disk space and have tried loads of things. Your fix worked perfectly.

July 12, 2008

jmdelivery29 @ 1:07 pm #

I've decrease the max size for the system restore and ran disk cleanup, yet I did not recover any additional space. Any recommendations on what I need to do next?

July 31, 2008

Yoav @ 4:28 pm #

Hey, maybe anyone here can help me –
I have this same problem as everyone, with missing disk space. The restore points / shadow copy is reported to only take 6GB and limited to 7.5GB, however I am missing about 70GB additional (disk space is ~140GB, windirstat / rightclick>poperties / everything else reports ~60GB in use, vssadmin list shadowstorage says max is 7.5GB, and free space reported is (currently) about 5GB – so I am missing 142-60-7-5 = 70GB).
Anyone has any other idea for where could the disk space hide?


Yoav @ 4:32 pm #

By the way, I have a lenovo thinkpad. Thought this might be related (as thinkpad also has some sort of system restore).

Yoav @ 4:47 pm #

OK I have indeed found out that the tinkpads have a similar, additional feature that takes up much more space, and found that it takes up about 55GB of my disk space. However, just like Vista's system restore, it is too not so easy to manipulate. I am not sure how to save space rather than just delete backups (for which I might be sorry later…) I know the backups are incremental so just deleting some of them (even if I find a way to do so) might make the later ones not work. Limiting the number of allowed backups from lenovo settings deletes the recent backups, which I would probably need most… 🙁 and limiting the allowed space does not erase old backups but rather just prevent me from making any new bakcups.
Anyone knows this problem and can help?


August 1, 2008

pH @ 11:45 pm #

I have a question. I'm a bit paranoid with things like this, so I was wondering if shrinking the disk space used would in any way shape or form affect the hidden recovery partition I have on my laptop? Thanks in advance.

August 2, 2008
September 20, 2008

pasha @ 2:10 am #

iam using windoes vista operaing system, my hard disk shows more space as occupied but if i see in hard disk it is having only half of the space than shown why it is showing like that is ther any way to solve the problem

April 2, 2009

Josias @ 5:52 pm #

Just SO useful..!

May 3, 2009

YorkshireJumbo @ 3:46 pm #

I've just released 184.3Gb! I only noticed recently, as I've installed and removed a couple of trial program suites. I thought SWMBO and the kids were storing lots of things, but it turns out I had the "UNBOUNDED" upper limit

June 1, 2009

almny @ 2:52 am #

thanks man
you can use disk cleanup and click more options and and choose clean up

June 23, 2009

Clinton @ 2:20 pm #

I can not thank you enough for this page. Recently a program I installed destroyed my music directory. The program was call Songbird and was supposed to be the Firefox of Media Players. But after installing it completely destroyed my music. After deleted all my music though, I realized that about 50 gigs were completely uncounted for, and through this tutorial, was able to recover that space. Thank you so much!

July 17, 2009

Kevin Roos @ 12:18 am #

THANK YOU!! The shadow copies on my mother's Vista laptop had claimed 200GB of space (I'm not exaggerating) and I was totally stumped as to where all the space was going. Your suggestions cleared it right up!

July 22, 2009

Mer @ 3:31 am #

Thanks for this 🙂 I have a 500 gig HD and the maxsize was set at 68 gig.. I thought that was a bit much, so I changed it to 38 gigs. First time I've ever used the command prompt btw – I was always too scared to use it, even tho I've been using computers since 2000 – I was afraid I'd mess something up. However it worked and everything went fine. Thanks again 🙂

August 9, 2009

Kris @ 6:36 pm #

Thanks for this info, helped me out a lot when I went from 50GB of HDD space down to 8GB in a day from just browsing the web. Not sure why Microsoft didn't put a natural cap on it instead of how much system restore could grab.

August 24, 2009

Brian @ 12:10 pm #

Your article on "How To Reduce Disk Space Used By Windows Vista System Restore" was a godsend and brought sanity to a very frustrated newbie to Vista. After many fruitless ours of googling to find a solution that WORKS was a relief.
Many Thanks

October 24, 2009

Gaurab @ 8:54 pm #

thanks man, it really works… system restore was using up 40GB and now i could limit it to 4GB…….thanks a million!!!!!!!

December 25, 2009

Tammy @ 10:00 am #

Thanks. I went from having 6GB of free space to 14GB. Bit worried though as I have a 80GB drive and set the limit to 2GB. Just have to wait and see….

January 5, 2010

Brian @ 6:13 pm #

Yep this worked perfectly for me, I figured I had just a lot more music than I had thought and it wasn't until I started moving files around that I noticed an issue. Using these commands I was able to check my shadow storage usage and it was, like many others, unbounded and by now using over 50% of my hardrive space.

Great information and a great thing to check out~Cheers

January 18, 2010

Jello @ 11:49 am #

This was an AMAZING help, Im bookmarking this page asap. It beat days of 'dell help and support' instantly.

I have just reinstalled Vista. My C: is 223GB, with 19GB free. I can see the C:Windows folder is 11GB, any idea where the missing 8GB might be?

When I ran the vssadmin list shadowstorage it showed my C: using 27GB, I reduced it to 5GB.

On my D: (recovery?) is 10GB alocated with 4GB being used. Is this ness?

Again, thanks so much for this article.

ps- before reducing the shadowstorage, I ran disk cleanup and saved 5GB as well.

February 18, 2010

Zoam @ 12:24 am #

I had a 687GB hard appears that the default amount of space was set to 103Gb..which is wierd..I set it 20GB is it OK or did i make it too less

June 8, 2010

3dak @ 2:06 pm #

ThanX bro……….it's really work's n u help me to save up to 4GB.

July 3, 2010

donnyien @ 8:41 pm #

Great info.thanks!

July 13, 2010

arun basil jacob @ 1:09 am #

I did a disc clean up last day in c and it also deleted my personal files in user's file and desktop.could you please send me how to recover my files.i have not created any back up discs.please mail to

September 25, 2010

vidhya @ 12:41 pm #

my lap is always showing a disk full of 'c' local disk eventhough i m havin lots of free space in other disks. i m nt at all storin anything in dat disk.
please tell me suggestions to reduce my disk space.
please mail me at

September 26, 2010

Steve @ 4:59 pm #

Thanks mate, I have a 300GB drive showing 28GB free with on 70 GB of Data on. 190GB was the shadow copy. Size was showing as unbounded. Followed your instructions and resized the shadow copy to 20GB . Recovered all the free space… Thanks a bundled…. seems incredible that the size was set as unbounded?

October 8, 2010

Sarah @ 2:15 pm #

Thank you – I was losing 4GB of space to system restore. All sorted now.

January 3, 2011

Shailja @ 5:19 am #

my laptop's specifications are
Acer Aspire 5635WLMi
Windows Vista Home Premium

160 GB HDD ( 69 GB for the C Drive and 69.5 GB for the D Drive.)

My C drive has 34.6 GB of Used Space and 35.1 GB of Free space.

Out of 34.6 GB of Used Space, I can trace only 18.7 GB of memory usage. ( 34.6- 18.7 = 15.9 GB –> unknown)

At present my Maximum Shadow Copy storage space is 5GB.
I changed it from 10.467 GB to 5 GB after reading your article!

My Used shadow copy space changed from 9.246 to 4.479 GB after the above change.

I'm still not aware of 11.4 GB memory usage
(15.9 – 4.479= 11.4 GB)

Should I reduce my Maximum Shadow Copy storage space to 1GB or so..?!

I have deleted all the temporary files, internet temp files, unnecessary hidden files.
I have even finished the disc clean up for the C drive.

Please Help ASAP

January 30, 2011

Paula Chess @ 3:08 pm #

Dude, you're a life saver. I was in the red zone (3gb left) and searched for an answer for 2 days. You freed up 24GB of free space on my 3 month old 320GB computer. Would it be TMI if I said …I love you?

February 22, 2011

Dana @ 9:26 pm #

I, too am in the 'red zone'; however…when I attempt to right click on the 'Run' command & choose 'Run As Admin'…I do not have that option. When I type the command in the 'Run'…the black screen pops up for a split second & disappears.


April 15, 2011

rishi @ 8:34 am #

I have tried everything including the system restore thing on my C drive but still i am left with only 11Mb of disk drive, I have to do more than 30 disk clean up per day.

I read the thing about vssadmin and tried the command but nothing was displayed not even shadow copy, I'm struggling with this since the last 3 months, my laptop is Acer Aspite 5310 please i need help, since 3 months my disk space has been by 23 GB ! unable to locate where it has gone, I have downloaded AVG, SpyBot, treesize but nothing helped and had to delete them coz my hard disk has almost no space

April 18, 2011

kike @ 12:05 pm #

my computer has only 8 mb and everytime i type vssadmin shadow that thing, well nothing appears

June 24, 2011

Kimboa @ 4:43 am #

Hi, when ever i type the command "vssadmin list shadowstorage" and enter. this is what i get.

"Error: You don't have the correct permission to run this command. please run this utility from a command that has elevated administrators previlages."

Can anyone help please. i seem to loose space everyday on my hard drive.

Kris @ 7:28 pm #

@Kimboa, its been a while since I have used Vista, but you should be able to right click the icon and select "Run as Administrator". That should help you out.

June 27, 2011

Barticus @ 5:42 pm #

This is an awesome post, thanks for explaining it so well and helping us novices out. I freed up over 20GB in 5 minutes.

August 2, 2011

Cor Blimey @ 12:33 am #

I just ran compcln.exe (from Vista SP2) in the command box. It took a few seconds and released a life-saving 2GB, all "shadow storage"

Cor Blimey @ 12:38 am #

Thanks for this. My Acer was sold with a stupid 30GB c: drive partition. I've been struggling to keep some spare c: drive space. compcln.exe gave me 2GB in seconds and without problems.
So 2 billion thanks…

January 28, 2012

Bill Barnes @ 5:58 pm #

This post was extremely helpful. After reloading Vista I could not figure out where 35gb were at and this post solved the mystery. I once again have a clean and spacious system!

Thank you so much!!!

Right on and power to the people.

April 8, 2012

Emily @ 10:28 am #

This is amazing, thank-you so much! I've now got an additional 21GB! 😀

February 27, 2015

Bella @ 11:44 am #

After hours of time and effort researching the same issue in Vista Home Premium as the above, I was thrilled to locate Mike's fabulous & clear resolution. I followed it to the letter, checking all syntax, and still cannot get the command to "take". The error returned is "Invalid option value".
–I notice that in the command line, /On=C: the colon is removed! (after I hit ENTER to execute the command line, as shown in Mike's example.)
–Also, within the error msg, microsoft's example is showing I should type /On=D:
I am trying to limit the C drive MaxSize, not the D! (CD/DVD drive).
As I said, I am very carefully typing the exact syntax and have done it 3 times.
–vssadmin resize shadowstorage /On=C: /For=C: /Maxsize=25GB [my HDD is 225GB].
Can someone help me????? thanks!

March 1, 2015

Bella @ 1:04 pm #

Thanks for your help, Mike! I ran through the same process again. This time it did work. The only difference: I also ran the "vssadmin list shadows" command. (I hadn't thought it necessary before, silly me).

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