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VSS Backup. How to backup Microsoft Windows machines with Bacula Enterprise and VSS?

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Updated 14th September 2022, Rob Morrison

What is VSS backup? VSS backup definition, meaning and types. Backup Windows apps using VSS.

Bacula Enterprise is often considered to be a Linux-focused solution. However, the reality is that Bacula Enterprise provides advanced tools for backing up Windows servers and workstations, as well as advanced Windows applications and databases. So no matter the mix of operating systems you are responsible for, Bacula Enterprise can provide complete data backup and recovery services.  Bacula Enterprise also allows cross platform data recovery, Bare Metal recovery for Windows, and agentless backup for HyperV guests.

For the most basic backups of filesystems and user data, proper backup of Microsoft Windows requires backups software to make a shadow copy of the filesystem in order to ensure that open files are correctly backed up and can be restored in a consistent state. This is done by interacting with the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) which allows backup of data and applications on a system without interrupting writes to those data and applications. VSS has been available and supported in Bacula Enterprise for all Windows versions since Windows XP and Server 2003.

Advanced backups of complex applications such as MSSQL, Active Directory, HyperV and others also take advantage of the VSS system, but require more complex implementations than a basic filesystem VSS backup. Bacula Enterprise implements these additional features in Windows with the use of plugins specific to each application. For an example implementation of MSSQL server backup, please see our video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jmsMfBHNr4

Fortunately, setting up a basic Windows fileset that implements VSS backup capabilities is very simple with Bacula Enterprise, and the file daemon handles all the complexities related to the shadow copy management.

Using the Bweb wizard ‘Add a New Fileset Resource’ makes the process very easy, allowing creation of a fileset that backs up all files on a Windows server or workstation, using VSS, as well as fine tuned filesets that include or exclude specific files, directories, and volumes.

To back up every file on a Windows system, the Wizard requires only a name:

and in the simplest case, just tell the wizard the OS type and to back up all files.

The wizard will create a default fileset that includes all mount points, excludes some common items like pagefile and system temporary directories, and backs up everything else.

The actual configuration file will look something like this:

Fileset {

Name = “Windows Example”

Enable VSS = Yes #optional, on by default

Include {

Options {

IgnoreCase = yes

OneFs = no

Signature = Md5


File = “/”


Exclude {

File = “[A-Z]:/pagefile.sys”

File = “[A-Z]:/RECYCLER”

File = “[A-Z]:/WINNT/Temp”



The Bacula Enterprise Windows File Daemon can automatically detect mounted drives, and the fileset above will back up all the files on all mounted drives, using VSS for the backup snapshot. The VSS line is optional, as Bacula will use it if possible, but it’s often a good idea to explicitly add the line so that there’s no question when you look back at the fileset in the future. If you’re automating fileset deployment, there’s no harm in having ‘Enable VSS = yes’ in every fileset, as it will simply be ignored by non-Windows file daemons. The Windows File Daemon also now supports multiple concurrent jobs from a single VSS snapshot, which in some cases allows for greater backup throughput to multiple storage destinations from a large, well provisioned Windows file server.

So while it’s true that Bacula Enterprise’s core components run primarily on Linux servers, Windows servers, workstations, filesystems, and advanced applications can be fully backed up and recovered with the use of the Windows File Daemon and Enterprise plugins. Please contact Bacula Systems with any questions at baculasystems.com/contactus

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About the author
Rob Morrison
Rob Morrison is the marketing director at Bacula Systems. He started his IT marketing career with Silicon Graphics in Switzerland, performing strongly in various marketing management roles for almost 10 years. In the next 10 years Rob also held various marketing management positions in JBoss, Red Hat and Pentaho ensuring market share growth for these well-known companies. He is a graduate of Plymouth University and holds an Honours Digital Media and Communications degree, and completed an Overseas Studies Program.