Solved: How do I fix Corrupted Vssadmin Delete Shadows Error: Snapshots were found, but they were outside of your allowed context?

Problem: This error occurs when you execute the command vssadmin delete shadows /all for shadow copies are to be deleted to recover space. Windows do not allow deleting VSS shadow copy even you are logged on as an administrator. The detail error message as below:

Error: Snapshots were found, but they were outside of your allowed context. Try removing them with the backup application which created them.

Error: Snapshots were found, but they were outside of your allowed context
Error: Snapshots were found, but they were outside of your allowed context

Follow below solution steps to resolve vssadmin delete shadows error issue and remove corrupted volume shadow copies VSS.

Content Summary

Potential Causes
Solution 1: Delete Windows Backup Shadow Copies Manually
Solution 2: Manage Windows Backup Disk Space
Solution 3: Execute Resize Shadow Storage Command
Solution 4: Execute Diskshadow Command
Solution 5: Volume Shadow Copy Deletion via WMIC
Solution 6: Disable Shadow Copies and Set Maximum
Solution 7: Delete Backup Catalog
Solution 8: Third-party Backup Software

Potential Causes

The vssadmin command allows you to manage the System Restore shadow copies, but not other third-party applications or Windows built-in backup system. So when you run the vssadmin command and finds shadow copies that don’t belong to the window, it will skip it and results in this error.

List of VSS snapshot backup
List of VSS snapshot backup

Some defective systems accumulate VSS snapshots that persist in the system. You can enter vssadmin list writers and check for errors. If there are still any writers that are listed as Failed or have an error or any writers’ states are not listed as Stable, you will receive the following error:

Error: Snapshots were found, but they were outside of your allowed context. Try removing them with the backup application which created them.

Solution 1: Delete Windows Backup Shadow Copies Manually

Step 1: Pressing Windows key + R to open a Run box.

Step 2: Type control and press Enter to open the Classic Control Panel interface.

Step 3: Click on All Control Panel Items > Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 4: Click on Manage space under Backup.

Click on Manage Space under Backup
Click on Manage Space under Backup

Step 5: Click on View backups under Data file backup.

Click on View backups under Data file backup
Click on View backups under Data file backup

Step 6: Locate the backups, and click on the Delete button.

Solution 2: Manage Windows Backup Disk Space

Step 1: Pressing Windows key + R to open a Run box.

Step 2: Type control and press Enter to open the Classic Control Panel interface.

Step 3: Click on All Control Panel Items > Backup and Restore (Windows 7).

Step 4: Click on Manage space under Backup.

Click on Manage Space under Backup
Click on Manage Space under Backup

Step 5: Click on Change settings under System image.

Click on Change settings under System image
Click on Change settings under System image

Step 6: Choose either to Windows manage the spaced used for backup history or keep only the latest image and minimize the spaced used by a backup. If you choose to keep only the latest system image and minimize space used by backup, you will get an estimate of how much space will be free.

Choose to let Windows manage the space used for backup history
Choose to let Windows manage the space used for backup history

Solution 3: Execute Resize Shadow Storage Command

Resizing the storage association may cause shadow copies to disappear.

Step 1: Press Windows key once.

Step 2: Type cmd in the search box.

Step 3: Choose Run as administrator option to open an elevated command prompt. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or select Allow.

Step 4: Type the following command and press Entervssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=X: /on=X: /maxsize=401MB

* X: Specifies the storage volume.

Step 5: Once you get a message with success status, type the following command and press Enter to increase the limit once again to the unbounded setting, or an actual limit value if you are using shadow copies for other purposes: vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=X: /on=X: /maxsize=unbounded

Step 6: Vssadmin will report back the status as below: Successfully resized the shadow copy storage association

Step 7: Type the following command and press Enter to delete the volume shadow copies: vssadmin delete shadows /for=d: /all /quiet

Execute Resize Shadow Storage Command
Execute Resize Shadow Storage Command

Step 8: Type the following command and press Enter to check the list of shadow copy: vssadmin list shadows

Reference: Microsoft Ignite > Vssadmin resize shadowstorage

Solution 4: Execute Diskshadow Command

Step 1: Press Windows key once.

Step 2: Type cmd in the search box.

Step 3: Choose Run as administrator option to open an elevated command prompt. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or select Allow.

Step 4: Type the following command and press Enterdiskshadow

Step 5: Type the following command and press Enter to list all the shadow copies available together with their ID: list shadows all

Step 6: Type the following command and press Enter if selective deletion is to be performed: delete shadows set {id of shadow to be deleted}
or type the following command and press Enter to delete all shadows: delete shadows all

Execute Diskshadow Command to delete volume shadow copies
Execute Diskshadow Command to delete volume shadow copies

Step 7: Restart your PC. You can then check the Shadow Copies tab in the Properties of the drive and configure from here.

Reference:

Solution 5: Volume Shadow Copy Deletion via WMIC

Step 1: Press Windows key once.

Step 2: Type cmd in the search box.

Step 3: Choose Run as administrator option to open an elevated command prompt. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or select Allow.

Step 4: Type the following command and press Enter: wmic

Step 5: After wmic:root\cli> appears, type the following command and press Entershadowcopy delete

Step 6: You will now be asked Y/N for if you wanted to delete the available shadow copies one by one. Type Y and press Enter after each one.

Solution 6: Disable Shadow Copies and Set Maximum

Step 1: Right-click on the drive and choose Properties from the context menu.

Step 2: Go to Shadow Copies tab.

Step 3: Select the drive and click on the Disable button.

Step 4: Click on Settings button.

Step 5: Select Use limit radio button and set the Maximum size to 320MB.

Disable Shadow Copies and Set Maximum
Disable Shadow Copies and Set Maximum

Solution 7: Delete Backup Catalog

Step 1: Press Windows key once.

Step 2: Type cmd in the search box.

Step 3: Choose Run as administrator option to open an elevated command prompt. If you are prompted for an administrator password or for a confirmation, type the password, or select Allow.

Step 4: Type the following command and press Enterwbadmin delete catalog

Reference: Microsoft Ignite > wbadmin delete catalog

Solution 8: Third-party Backup Software

If you are using third-party backup software, you will have to configure it accordingly to free up space and delete those Shadow copies because those copies belong to some other backup application and can only be deleted using that software.

Published by Emma Watson

, an Information Technology Engineer By qualification who loves to write about Windows, macOS and technical solutions for various error and problems. Coming from a solid background in PC building and software development, with complete expertise in touch-based devices, I am constantly keeping an eye out for the latest and greatest!