Deleting old Windows Server Backups from an external hard drive

Deleting old Windows Server Backups from an external hard drive

I encountered an issue recently whereby one of our clients servers was running low on disk space. This resulted in the server being unable to complete a Windows Server Backup.  The backup destination in this instance was an external USB drive.

To resolve the issue I carried out the following steps:

  1. Opened Disk Management
  2. Right Clicked the backup partition on my backup drive and selected the option for ‘Change Drive Letter and Paths’
  3. Specified the drive letter as ‘F:’
  4. Opened an Elevated Command Prompt
  5. Ran the command ‘diskshadow’
  6. Ran the sub command ‘delete shadows oldest f:’
    (Ran the command multiple times until I was happy with the free disk space)
  7. Removed the Drive letter from Device Management

Please note, this is really only a temporary fix.  The correct solution is to replace the Backup drives with drives that had a bigger capacity.

Credit to the following article for finding this solution:

2 Replies to “Deleting old Windows Server Backups from an external hard drive”

  1. I’m curious. How long did the deletes take? Usually shadow copy tasks are quick but I’ve found that when my nightly backups run the longest it’s when WSB had to delete some backups first on its own. A normal incremental takes about 4 hours but sometimes they’ll go as long as 10 and those are the nights that 1 or 2 older copies were removed. I know this because I monitor it daily using “wbadmin get versions -backuptarget:F:” (F is my external drives that are swapped daily)

    1. Hi Gabe, thank you for the comment.

      In my case the old backups were deleted with in about 20 seconds of running the command. As I mentioned in my post though, if you’re having to do it manually then ideally you need bigger drives.


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