How to Turn Off Volume Shadow Copy in Windows Vista
Switch off System Protection and the Previous Copies Facility
How to Turn Off Volume Shadow Copy in Windows Vista
Windows Vista comes with a handy version control facility for your files, called Volume Shadow Copy. With volume shadow copy, Vista automatically tracks changes you make to files saved on your hard disk. If you ever find that you have accidentally overwritten a good copy of your document with one that has errors, the volume shadow copy feature makes it easy for you to recover the older saved copy of the file.
However, in some cases, you may want to turn volume shadow copy off on your machine. When you have shadow copies enabled, even when you delete a document, previously saved versions of the document will still be available. This can be an issue if you are running low on hard disk space, or if, for example, you use one of those solid state drives that have a very small capacity. It can also cause problems if you have sensitive documents on your system, like files with customer credit card numbers, that you want to delete before (say) sending a computer for repair. Simply deleting the file, or even wiping out the file securely isn't sufficient. The volume shadow copies of your file will still exist.
Steps to Turning Off the "Previous Copies" Facility
To turn off volume shadow copy, first bring up the System Properties window by going to your start menu, and opening up the Control Panel. In Control Panel, click "System and Maintenance". in the window that opens, click "System". On the left panel, look for a line that says "System protection" and click it. The Windows User Account Control, or UAC, will pop up. Click the "Continue" button.
In the dialog box that appears, you should be able to see a list box with all the available drives on your computer. Next to each drive is a check box. If there is a check in the box next to the drive, it means volume shadow copy, along with System Restore, is enabled for that drive. To disable volume shadow copy, simply uncheck the box. A dialog box will appear asking if you are sure you want to turn off System Restore. Click the "Turn System Restore off" button. Finally, click the OK button.
Some Additional Things to Be Aware Of
Here are a few things you should know when turning off the "Previous Copies" feature of Vista.
As you have probably realised, the volume shadow copy facility is tied to the system restore feature of Windows. When you turn one off, you also turn the other off. This is unfortunate, since the System Restore may have its uses when you need to restore the state of your Windows system and programs back to a particular date (such as before you made some disastrous mistake). However, you can compensate for the lack of a system restore by keeping up-to-date backups of your hard disk. This is in many ways, is better than having system restore, since the latter doesn't really cleanly restore a system to an earlier state.
If you like to keep previous versions of your files but just don't like Vista's built-in facility (or perhaps you are using XP or some earlier version of Windows), you can also install a third party version control system. These specialized software are generally more powerful than Windows built-in facility. Free versions of such software can be found on thefreecountry.com's Free Version Control Software page.
Even after you turn off volume shadow copy, do not imagine that your documents are now safe from prying eyes. The programs you use to create those documents usually create temporary files on your hard disk. Portions of your documents may also exist in your Windows paging and hibernation files. All these data can be recovered by sufficiently motivated people.
If you work with sensitive information like credit card numbers and other customer data, you owe it to yourself and your customers to use an encryption utility that can encrypt your entire hard disk, system partition and all. If you have Vista Ultimate, you can use the built-in Bitlocker facility to do just that. I mention this because of the large number of horror stories of lost notebooks with customer data still on them. I don't want you to think that turning off volume shadow copy automatically increases your security. Other measures are needed.
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