When you perform certain software installs that can put data in important parts of the system, or Windows is installing updates etc, your system will often create a system restore point. Either that or you will be asked if you want to create a restore point at that time. If anything goes wrong with a software installation or you notice other problems possibly caused by something as nasty as a virus or rogue software, you can restore a previously created restore point.
Well, that’s the theory anyway. Personally I haven’t had a great deal of luck over the years with the system restore function and when really needed the most, a restore has often failed on me. I never use it these days and system restore is one of the very first things that gets turned off after a clean install. That’s not to say everyone should do the same because it can still be a very useful last resort function especially if you’re someone who doesn’t take backups of their files or system at regular intervals. For a user that is short of hard drive space, disabling system restore could get you back a good few Gigabytes. By default, Windows XP sets the amount of space system restore can take up on your drive at 12% which is a waste if you never want to use it. On Vista Vista and 7 this number is even higher and it can consume up to 15% of your hard drive or partition’s space if you don’t lower it.
To edit the amount of available disk space for System Restore in Windows XP is easy. Just right click on My Computer -> Properties. Then in the System Properties window go to the System Restore tab. You can change the percent of disk space usage by sliding the slider if you still want to use System Restore but do not want it to take up so much space. To get there in Windows 7 right click on Computer -> Properties, click on System Protection and the the Configure button. A similar slider allows you to lower the available disk space.
I’ve left Windows Vista out from the last paragraph because although you get to the System Restore feature the same way as you would in windows 7 above, there is a problem because a Configure button is nowhere to be found. There is no visible way to change the default disk space system restore uses in Vista. Microsoft in their wisdom decided to remove the function to make Vista easier to use. I don’t think that was something they should have been worrying about really…
Although you can’t change the Vista restore space usage from a slider, thankfully you can do so from the command prompt. This is achieved by using a command called “vssadmin” which is the Volume Shadow Copy Service administration tool. To get started go to Start and type cmd into the search box and when the cmd icon appears right click on it and select “Run as Administrator”. To list the current disk usage size type:
vssadmin list shadowstorage
This will give you a Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space value at the bottom which is the currently allocated size. To change this value type:
vssadmin resize shadowstorage /on=c: /for=c: /maxsize=5GB
The value of 5GB is the maximum size for the restore space and can be changed to a lower or higher value if you wish although it cannot go below 300MB. Do note that this space is also shared with the Previous files function of Windows so if you find that useful it’s best not to set this value too low. The “On” value simply tells the tool where the restore files are and “For” is the Windows install that gets backed up during a restore point creation.
If you’re not comfortable using the Command Prompt, here’s a few ready made batch files which will set the maximum size value for you to either 2GB, 5GB or 10GB. To use one simply download the bat file and right click on it, then select “Run as Administrator”. Note they are for Windows Vista ONLY.
If you want to set a different value then you might like to try the Reliance PC batch file which allows you to set a maximum size of between 1GB and 40GB. You can get the file and more information at the ReliancePC website.