Windows 2003 Volume Shadow Copy

It’s true: people still use Windows 2003.  For one reason or another, be it obstinance or some other archaic piece of software, companies are forced to hold on to the Windows 2003 server operating system for much longer than many of us would like.

“Volume Shadow” was a nice feature incorporate in to Windows 2003 server.  No additional client was needed.  When enabled, you could right-mouse click on a file, select properties, and you were greeted with a window that has an additional tab labeled “Previous Version”.

At least, that was the promise. But, wait.. you’re looking. It’s not there.  You’ve navigated to the folder, right-mouse clicked on the file, and there is no previous versions tab.  Now you are thinking you need to go to a backup tape, and you are sweating a little bit over the validity of your backups.

Never mind what the age-old Tao of Backup tells us, we still sweat a little when having to turn to our backups.  But then you are also positive Volume Shadow copy was enabled.  So you check.  You right-mouse click on “Computer” and select “Manage”, expand “Shared Folders”, right-mouse click on the drive, select “All tasks” and select “Configure volume shadow copy…”  You look.  You see it’s configured.

You scratch your head again.  “Why am I not seeing the Previous Version tab?” you ask yourself. “Does it need a client?” So you navigate to C:\Windows\system32\twclient\twclient.msi and install it.  As it is installing, you’re now thinking “But wait.. Windows 2003 included the client, didn’t it?”  You are right.. it did.  Installing the client doesn’t do any harm, though.

Still, there is no “Previous Versions” tab.

The Solution

Well, it seems that the ONLY way to see this tab is via the share itself.  You cannot navigate to the file locally on the system and expect to see the “Previous Versions” tab.  I’m guessing that the expectation was to provide this functionality to users directly, so the client would be installed on the Windows XP desktops.

On the server, select Start->run and enter “\\thisservername\thesharename\pathtofolder\”.  When the folder opens, right-mouse click on the file, and you will now see the “Previous Versions” tab.  Restore and breathe a little easier.

Now go make sure your backups are working. Just in case.