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Windows 7: Windows Backup says not enough space on external drive, but there is

21 Jan 2012   #1

Home Premium 64 bit
Windows Backup says not enough space on external drive, but there is

I am attempting to use Windows Backup on my Dell Inspiron 560MT with Win7 Home Premium installed. It fails supposedly for lack of space available on the receiving external drive (250 GB gross, 232 GB net), of which 26.6 MB only is occupied.

The space occupied by files and folders in my hard disk partitions, C: and I: (recovery) is 171.07 GB, so I do not understand, why there is insufficient space. Surely there should be at least
231-172= 59GB left once the backup is completed!

Can anyone explain and advise? Please!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


Could you take a snip of your Disk Management and post it? It would help to see exactly how your hard drive is set up.

Open Disk Management - How Do I Open Disk Management in Windows?

Screenshots and Files - Upload and Post in Seven Forums

You may have a problem with insufficient free space in the hidden 100MB ‘System Reserved’ partition.

The backup did not complete successfully - not enough free space.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2012   #3

Home Premium 64 bit

I hope the attachment is what you need! I do not understand how the size of the internal disk's partitions affects the ability to backup to my external one; if that is what you thinking.

Attached Thumbnails
My System SpecsSystem Spec

21 Jan 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


I don't always understand why Windows 7 does what it does, either. I've sent your issue to some other forum members. Perhaps they'll be able to give you an easy way to solve this. Hang in there.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2012   #5

Windows 7 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Enterprise X64/Windows 10 Pro X64/Linux Mint

The 78MB OEM partition is a Dell partition. The Recovery partition is to recover the OS and also contains the Boot files. How much free space is in the recovery partition? And, do not do backups to that partition. I know several people who have done that. The recovery partition allows you to reinstall the OS, since dell does not usually send OD installation disks. The error you are getting is typical if there is not sufficient space in the system reserved. In the case of Dell, the system reserved is usually located in the recovery partition. How much free space is there and have you added anything to the recovery partition?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2012   #6


Have you ever done a backup before to this target/destination drive?

Go to a command prompt (Start > enter CMD in search box, RIGHT-click and select Run As Administrator).

From command line:

vssadmin list shadowstorage

This will list the available disk space within the System Volume Information folder as it pertains to System Restore points and Windows Backup and Windows System Image.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2012   #7

Home Premium 64 bit

From Cmd
Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Windows\system32>vssadmin list shadowstorage
vssadmin 1.1 - Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2001-2005 Microsoft Corp.

Shadow Copy Storage association
For volume: (N\\?\Volume{3435469a-15b5-11e1-89c3-00256485166c}\
Shadow Copy Storage volume: (N\\?\Volume{3435469a-15b5-11e1-89c3-0025648516
Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 69.866 GB (30%)

Shadow Copy Storage association
For volume: (C\\?\Volume{b68ec96c-15f4-11e1-9fac-806e6f6e6963}\
Shadow Copy Storage volume: (C\\?\Volume{b68ec96c-15f4-11e1-9fac-806e6f6e69
Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 1.088 GB (0%)
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 1.585 GB (0%)
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 10 GB (1%)

From Computer Recovery ( drive I;, has 4.53 of 10.6GB free.

I do not recall having put anything in the recovery partition, but perhaps someone would look at the attachment, that shows what is there. Thanks.

Attached Thumbnails
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Jan 2012   #8


You're hitting the "30%" default rule on N. Windows doesn't want to chew up more than 30% of a drive by default.

Go to Control Panel > System > click on Advanced System Settings LINK on left-hand side.

On this new applet, click on SYSTEM PROTECTION tab at the top. On there, in the Protection Settings scrollable window, find and highlight (left-click) your N drive. Then click on the CONFIGURE tile. On this next screen, slide your slider all the way to 100%.

Then click APPLY to save the settings. Prove this worked by issuing your vssadmin list shadowstorage again. You should see the the max. shadow space now say 100%.

Then retry your file backup.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2012   #9

Home Premium 64 bit

This is the situation of the external disk (attchd). Another backup failed despite the adjustments. It seems to backup the files in C:\users\me\..., but not the image, which it should, as according to my calculations the overall space used on the internal disk is

165 out of 585GB and recovery 4.53 out of 10.6GB. (@ essenbe this answers your query about space in the partition).

Working on duplicate files I have also freed another 6GB, and intend to try again.

essenbe did mention the recovery partition and I supplied details in an earlier posting.

Is that looking both correct and adequate; could it also be part of problem?

Attached Images
Attached Files
File Type: txt shadow.txt (987 Bytes, 15 views)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Jan 2012   #10

MS Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit


Update your Win 7. Please use this procedure following each step, even if you might think the steps to be senseless, useless and futile.

Change settings (left-hand column) |
checkmark all four of the boxes | OK

Approve any dialog boxes presented. Let Windows install any update features.

WIN is the key with the Microsoft flag on top.

Check for Updates
(left-hand column)
Install ALL critical updates.
Restart your computer (even if not prompted)

Repeat this procedure until there are no more critical updates.

DO NOT TRUST the “Windows is up to date” in center of dialog. until you see that TWICE IN A ROW!

Use the “critical update” procedure until all important updates are installed.

Use the “critical update” procedure until all optional updates are installed.

Under Optional updates you will be presented with a list of about 34 language updates.
You can hide those updates so that aren't continually notified of those updates. When you click on 34 optional updates are available, then you
a) highlight all of the language updates,
b) right-click anywhere in the highlighted list.
c) click on Hide Updates,
d) OK button.


Install ALL, yes, ALL updates.
This is Win 7 and not Vista or XP (eXPired).

Hung is very doubtful unless you interrupted updates.

CTRL + SHIFT + ESC key combo will pop-up the Task Manager.
Lo and behold, Windows Update is still running!

You hold down the CTRL and SHIFT keys.
While holding them down, tap the ESC key once.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows Backup says not enough space on external drive, but there is

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