How to easily restore your deleted or modified files using Shadow Copies

Last updated on November 12th, 2014

Shadow Copy feature (also known as “Volume Snapshot Service” or “Volume Shadow Copy Service” or “VSS”) is a technology included in the latest Windows operating systems that takes background backups of the operating system's condition and of your files in real time. 

Shadow Copy technology appeared for the first time in Windows Server 2003 OS. In Windows 8, 7 & Vista OS, the “Shadow Copy” technology is improved and makes the restoration job very easy. For that reason,  Shadow copy is a useful feature when we face operating system's problems or when we accidentally delete or modify important  files.

To be able to use the Shadow copy feature, you must have previously have enabled it on your computer.

How to enable Shadow Copy feature.

To enable Shadow copy feature you have to enable the" System Restore protection" on your computer. To do that, go to:

1. “Start” > “Control Panel” and double-click to open “System”.

Note: to be able to view all control panel items, set the “View by” options to: “Small icons”.


2. Choose “System Protection” from the left.

system protection

3. At “System Protection” tab, choose the hard drive of which you want to enable Shadow Copies (e.g.: “Local Disk C”) and click “Configure”.


4.  Finally check the “Restore system settings and previous versions of files” option and press “OK”.


How to restore your deleted or modified folders or files from Shadow Copies.

Method 1: Restore your files/folders using Windows “Restore Previous versions” feature.

Method 2: Restore your files/folders using “Shadow Explorer” utility.

Method 1: Restore deleted folders & files using Windows “Restore Previous versions” feature.

How to restore missed files using  Windows “Restore Previous versions” feature:

1. Navigate to the folder or the file that you want to restore in a previous state and right-click on it.

2. From the drop-down menu select “Restore Previous Versions”. *

Notice* for Windows XP users: Select “Properties” and then the “Previous Versions” tab.

resore previous versions

3. Then choose a particular version of folder or file and the press the:

  • Open” button to view the contents of that folder/file.
  • Copy” to copy this folder/file to another location on your computer (e.g. your external hard drive).
  • Restore” to restore the folder file to the same location and replace the existing one.

previous folder version

Method 2: Restore deleted files using “Shadow Explorer” utility.

How to restore your deleted files & folders using “Shadow Explorer” utility.

"ShadowExplorer", is a free replacement for the "Previous Versions feature" of Microsoft Windows Vista/ 7 / 8 and   you can restore lost or damaged files from Shadow Copies.

1. Download ShadowExplorer utility from here. (You can either download the "ShadowExplorer installer" or the "Portable version" of the program).

2. Run ShadowExplorer utility and then select the date that you want to restore the shadow copy of your folder/files.


3. Now navigate to the folder/file that you want to restore to its previous version, right-click on it and select “Export”.

ShadowExplorer export[5]

4. Finally, specify where the shadow copy of your folder/file will be exported/saved (e.g. your Desktop) and press “OK”.

shadow explorer export location

That’s it.

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