Microsoft offers a nice feature with their server operating system called Shadow Copies that makes it easy and quick to get a previous version of a file or folder without having to resort to restoring from your backups.

Shadow copies are used as a way to supplement your regular backup and to allow administrators or even users to restore previous versions of their files if needed. It is available on Windows Server editions and the Shadow Copy Client must be installed on each workstation. You can get the client installation software off your Windows server at C:\Windows\system32\clients\twclient\x86.


After it is enabled on the server and the client is installed on the workstation you will have an option to restore previous versions of shared files and folders. When you right click a file or folder you will see a Previous Versions tab. There will be previous versions of files and folders that have been previously changed that you will be able to choose from.

The intervals for the copies to be made can be set on the server to suit your needs. Be sure not to do it too often or during peak network usage time or else your network traffic will suffer.

From here you can choose which version to go back to. You have the option to either view the file to see if you want to restore it, copy the file somewhere else so you can compare the copy to the current version or restore the file over the existing copy. If the file has not been changed then you will not see any previous versions to be able to go back to.

Setting up Shadow Copies on the server is fairly simple. Right click My Computer and select Manage. Then you will right click Shared Folders, click All Tasks and then Configure Shadow Copies. You will see the configuration screen.

From here you can select which drive or drives you want to enable Shadow Copies on. You can configure options such as what drive you want the copies to be made on and how much space you want to allocate to the copies. You can also delete previous copies to get disk space back. There are also options for scheduling the frequency that the copies will be made.

One important note to keep in mind is if you try to go back to a previous version while logged in locally on the server you will not have that option unless you browse to the location using a UNC path rather than a local path. You should also note that this is not meant to be a replacement for a good backup solution for your important files.

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