How to delete shadow copies

Written by alexis lawrence
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Some Windows operating systems, such as Vista Ultimate and Enterprise and pro versions of Windows 7, create shadow copies of files. These shadow copies are previous versions of the file that include all of the information contained in the file at the point when the copy was saved. More than one shadow copy of the file is stored on the computer at a time and you can access the shadow copies by going to the "Previous Versions" option in the context menu of any file. If you want to delete shadow copies to free space, Windows provides a tool.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Open the "Start" menu by clicking on the "Start" orb in the bottom left corner of the screen. Enter "disk cleanup" in the search box and click on the "Disk Cleanup" link that appears in the search results.

  2. 2

    Select "Files from all users on this computer." If prompted to enter an administrator username and password, enter the administrator ID and password for the system.

  3. 3

    Choose the hard drive that you would like to clean up in the "Disk Cleanup: Drive Selection" window if you have more than one hard drive connected to the computer. If you do not have more than one drive connected to the computer, the "Disk Cleanup: Drive Selection" window will not appear.

  4. 4

    Go to the "More Options" tab in the cleanup wizard. Select the "System Restore and Shadow Copies" option and click "OK."

  5. 5

    Press the "Delete" button when prompted to confirm that you want to delete the system restore and shadow copies that are saved on your system. The Disk Cleanup tool will delete all shadow copies saved to the selected hard drive with the exception of the most recent copy, which will free up space on the system, while leaving you with one backup for each file.

Tips and warnings

  • If you have chosen "My files only" when given the choice of which files to clean, the "More Options" tab will not appear in the Disk Cleanup wizard.

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