First let me say that I think System Restore is pretty worthless. In the numerous instances I have tried this tool, only once did it ever do anything to help me. Most of the time it does nothing, and occasionally it makes things worse. It is also a haven for viruses and malware, and I typically temporarily shutdown System Restore in Windows XP when I am cleaning up a PC.
Ever since I started using Vista, it has bugged me that not only could I not disable System Restore on my system, but also there were no options to control the amount of hard drive space it is using. By luck, I happened upon the answers to these annoyances. I was reading an email from Microsoft, part of which was pushing Vista, giving reasons why it’s better than XP or tips to make it run better. On the 3rd or 4th article I checked out, 12 Windows Vista Tweaks To Boost Your PC’s Performance from InformationWeek.com, there was a tweak “Tune System Restore.” In the tweak description there was information about changing the size of the System Restore repository. Of course this had to be done from the command line (in typical Microsoft fashion of continuing the dummying down of Windows for the masses – let’s hide stuff we don’t want people to change in command line commands), so I fired up my command prompt and went to work.
As I read abut the command to run, the article mentioned that the Shadow Copy storage space (where System Restore now stores its data) on a volume uses 15% of the volume’s free space by default. In this new era of hundreds of gigabyte and terabyte drives, this is ridiculous. In my case, 15% of my 500GB drive is about 75GB. So for kicks I checked my free space before shrinking the Shadow Copy storage space: 365GB.
Before we get to the stunning finale, let me show you the command you need to use to change your Shadow Copy storage space. The article actually has it wrong. When I ran their command, I was given an error and an example of the correct command usage. Here the example: vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=D: /MaxSize=900MB and here’s the command I used on my drive: vssadmin Resize ShadowStorage /For=C: /On=C: /MaxSize=10GB The article forgot the /On option and I missed the colon after the drive letter (I originally put C instead of C:).
Now for the moment you’ve been waiting for: my drive space went from 365GB free to 414GB free, a net gain of 49GB! I was relieved to get the space back but majorly ticked off that it was being used in the first place. So if you want to get some quick free space back, try the command mentioned above – you may be as surprised as I was.