Restore shadow copies from command line with volrest tool

Volrest, a command-line tool in the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit, can help administrators search for files on a server while restoring shadow copies.

The shadow copies feature in Windows Server 2003 automatically creates point-in-time copies or snapshots of files in shared folders. This lets users recover accidentally overwritten or deleted work without having to ask an administrator to restore from backup.

Still, one problem admins face while restoring shadow copies is searching for files on a server, listing the available versions of a file and locating previous versions of a file and restoring them to a specific folder.

A command-line tool called Volrest.exe in the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit can help admins resolve this problem.

To search for a file and list the available versions using Volrest, an admin must use the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path of the server and shared folder that he wants to examine. The UNC path of the server will have the following syntax:

\\
Name\SharedFolder

where Name is the domain name or IP address of the server and SharedFolder is the name of the shared folder.

To search for files within the shared folder by adding the name or part of the name to the UNC pathname while using volrest:

  1. Go to Start -> Run
  2. Type cmd in the Open dialog box. This will take you to command line.
  3. Type volrest\\Data\Fees\June_Fee.doc

This will give you previous versions of the June_Fee.doc file in the 'Fees' share on the server named DATA.

If you only know part of the name of file is known, use wildcards, i.e.,

volrest \\Data\Fees\*
Fee.doc

So in this case, Volrest would return any files whose names end in "Fee.doc."

Finally, to restore the files to another location, use this command:

volrest \\Name\SharedFolder\FileName
/r:Restore

where Restore is the local or network path to the folder which you want to restore the file's versions to.

Note: The Volrest tool has one drawback -- its searches are not case-sensitive.

About the author: Rahul Shah currently works at a software firm in India, where he is a systems administrator maintaining Windows servers. He has also worked for various software firms in testing and analytics, and also has experiences deploying client/server applications in different Windows configurations.

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This was first published in November 2006

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