I won’t go into great detail here but in short, if VSSAdmin is not letting you delete shadow copies and is throwing this message:
Error: Snapshots were found, but they were outside of your allowed context. Try removing them with the backup application which created them.
There is another (less safe…) program called DiskShadow which will.
It’s built into windows server… and using it to get rid of pesky shadow copies that won’t otherwise goes away looks like this:
DISKSHADOW> Delete Shadows All
and away they go…
One of the best blog articles I came across that details both VSSADMIN and DiskShadow tool and why VSSAdmin sometimes falls short is here:
After working with RDS (Remote Desktop Services, previously known as “Terminal Services”, also referred to “The biggest pain in the rear and the only way to get more than two remote desktop sessions on a server because Microsoft either hates admins, hates this product, or both”) I have come to the conclusion that Microsoft really needs to make something which should be simple, simple. Alas it isn’t simple. And today’s topic…
You have an RDS licensing and management server… you have several Session Host servers as part of your deployment. At some point one of those servers died and was henceforth removed from the domain. It’s gone, never to return. You login to manage Remote Desktop Services licensing… and are told that a bunch of servers are missing from the management pool.
Something along these lines:
The following servers in this deployment are not part of the server pool:
The servers must be added to the server pool.
Instead of MS just letting you manage RDS, you have to fix this first. Fine… you go to add them back in but wait…. you have that server which was a session host which died a horrible death and therefore cannot be added back in… What now?
Several years ago Microsoft provided Windows 7 operating system ISO file downloads easily through a site called Digital River. Legitimate, clean copies of all versions of Windows 7.
Then they stopped.
Why is this a problem?
I refurbish a lot of older desktops and laptops; often to give them away. Those systems usually have a legal OEM (original equipment manufacturer) license. OEM licenses are unique in that they are lower cost licenses provided to system vendors (Dell, HP, etc.) that are tied to the hardware (i.e. they can only be used on the box that they came pre-installed on).
OEM Licenses then are a real blessing, low cost Windows OS for the masses… However if you lose your system disk (or if the OS on your manufacturers media is pre-service pack 1 making it a pain in the rear once installed) and need to get a copy to reinstall on your computer things are no longer as easy as they used to be. Microsoft shut down Digital River and if you want to get install media you now have to enter a license key and have it checked before you can download. Fine… but not fine… if you enter an OEM key you get a really helpful message to contact the manufacturer… Great, if you call Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. they will often tell you that you are out of luck or, at best, charge you some ridiculous fee to ship you an install disk.
Let me reiterate that if you have an OEM key and are using it on the original system with which the key came then you have a legal right to use the operating system. You just need to find install media which is now a royal pain.
Thankfully a kind soul grabbed all of the original Digital River and Technet (another now deprecated option for getting install media) Windows 7 ISO files and provides them via Bittorrent. (more…)
If you got a new computer system recently then it probably is using UEFI bios and it didn’t come with Windows installation media or a product license activation key. What gives?
Manufacturers are now embedding the activation key in the UEFI BIOS. You can retrieve the key by running this command from within a Windows powershell session:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get oa3xoriginalproductkey
I moved my hard drive to a new Dell OEM PC (new motherboard/chassis/etc.) recently and had to activate windows 10 again once I was up and running. The activation kept failing. I found this out and went to the activation window, hit the “Change key” option and then ran the above command and pulled the key out of UEFI Bios on the new system and it worked without a problem. I had to change the key in my Windows 10 install to match the key stored in the UEFI Bios on the system. Thankfully my Windows 10 install from my old system was the “Pro” SKU and that is what the Dell workstation originally came pre-loaded with.