Creating Windows VSS backups - AWS Backup

Creating Windows VSS backups

With AWS Backup, you can back up and restore VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service)-enabled Windows applications running on Amazon EC2 instances. If the application has VSS writer registered with Windows VSS, then AWS Backup creates a snapshot that will be consistent for that application.

You can perform consistent restores, while using the same managed backup service that is used to protect other AWS resources. With application-consistent Windows backups on EC2, you get the same consistency settings and application awareness as traditional backup tools.


AWS Backup currently only supports application-consistent backups of resources running on Amazon EC2, specifically backup scenarios where application data can be restored by replacing existing an instance with a fresh instance created from the backup. Not all instance types or applications are supported for Windows VSS backups.

For more information, see Creating a VSS Application-Consistent Snapshot in the Amazon EC2 User Guide.

To back up and restore VSS-enabled Windows resources running Amazon EC2, follow these steps to complete the required prerequisite tasks. For instructions, see Before You Begin in the Amazon EC2 User Guide for Windows Instances.

  1. Download, install, and configure the SSM agent in AWS Systems Manager. This step is required. For instructions, see Working with SSM agent on Amazon EC2 instances for Windows Server in the AWS Systems Manager User Guide.

  2. Add an IAM policy to the IAM role and attach the role to the Amazon EC2 instance before you take the Windows VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) backup. For instructions, see Create an IAM Role for VSS-Enabled Snapshots in the Amazon EC2 User Guide. For an example of the IAM policy, see Managed policies for AWS Backup.

  3. Download and install VSS components to the Windows on Amazon EC2 instance

  4. Enable VSS in AWS Backup:

    1. Open the AWS Backup console at

    2. On the dashboard, choose the type of backup you want to create, either Create an on-demand backup or Manage Backup plans. Provide the information needed for your backup type.

    3. When you're assigning resources, choose EC2. Windows VSS backup is currently supported for EC2 instances only.

    4. In the Advanced settings section, choose Windows VSS. This enables you to take application-consistent Windows VSS backups.

    5. Create your backup.

A backup job with a status of Completed does not guarantee that the VSS portion is successful; VSS inclusion is made on a best-effort basis. Proceed with the following steps to determine if a backup is application-consistent, crash-consistent, or failed:

  1. Open the AWS Backup console at

  2. Under My account in the left navigation, click Jobs.

  3. A status of Completed indicates a successful job that is application-consistent (VSS).

    A status of Completed with issues indicates that the VSS operation has failed, so only a crash-consistent backup has been successful. This status will also have a popover message "Windows VSS Backup Job Error encountered, trying for regular backup".

    If the backup was unsuccessful, the status will be Failed.

  4. To view additional details of the backup job, click on the individual job. For example, the details may read Windows VSS Backup attempt failed because of timeout on VSS enabled snapshot creation.

VSS-enabled backups with a target that is non-Windows or non-VSS component Windows that is successful job will be crash-consistent without VSS.

Unsupported Amazon EC2 instances

The following Amazon EC2 instance types are not supported for VSS-enabled Windows backups because they are small instances and might not take the backup successfully.

  • t3.nano

  • t3.micro

  • t3a.nano

  • t3a.micro

  • t2.nano

  • t2.micro