Sam from Mississagua, Ontario is having difficulty with his back-up.  He writes “I have an external drive for my backup and am having a problem with my backup files and i am getting the following message. Check your back up. A shadow copy could not be created. Please check VSS and SPP Application event logs for more information. Details : Insufficient storage available to create either the shadow copy storage file or other shadow copy data . Error code 0x81000019. Your help will be greatly appreciated. For a young gentleman of 70 it is getting difficult to keep up with everything.”

Hi, Sam.  Thanks for the great question!

Well, in a nutshell, it means that there’s not enough space on your drive so save your backup.

This could be for one of two reasons.  The first thing that you want to make sure of is that the external hard drive that you’re using is at least as large as the drive that your backing up.  If your external is smaller than the capacity of the drive that you’re backing up, like say you’ve got a 1 TB hard drive, and, to save money, bought a 500 GB external drive, it will work for a while, until your drive capacity exceeds 500 GB.  At that point, your drive will no longer back up because there’s not enough space.

blue external

Now let’s look at the other possibility, and reverse the situation.  You have a 500 GB hard drive on your computer and a 1 TB backup drive.  So your backup drive has twice as much space as your hard drive.  You’re all set, right?  Well, not necessarily.  Let’s say that your first backup has a shadow copy of 150 GB.  Then, the next month, you’ve only saved a little data, so your shadow copy is now 200 GB.  During the next month, you discover how to store HD movies on your hard drive and use up a lot of hard drive space storing cool new movies.

So the next month your shadow copy is 400 GB.  The next month it’s 450 GB.  Well, first off, it might be time for you to delete some stuff off of your hard drive, because your computer is probably running pretty slowly, but you should still have plenty of room, right?  Because you have a 1 TB backup.  Well… no.  Because on that drive you already have shadow copies of 150 GB, 200 GB and 400 GB, totaling 750 GB.  That means that you only have 250 GB available.  You see, it keeps each shadow copy just in case you need to restore to an earlier backup due to, say, a virus.

So how do you fix this?  Delete your shadow copies, or at least enough of them to make the space that you need to store your new backup.  If you want to keep some of your old backups to be safe, you might want to start with your oldest shadow copies.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer