What is System Volume Information folder and can it be deleted?

The System Volume Information folder is a hidden and protected folder located in the root of every drive or partition. It’s even found on your SD card, pen drive, and external hard disk if you have connected them to your Windows computer earlier. It’s is not a virus or malware.

But, what exactly is the System Volume Information folder? Why is it huge and still growing? Can you delete the System Volume Information folder?

This article has answers to all your questions.

What is the System Volume Information folder?

System Volume Information (SVI) is the data store folder used by the System Restore feature. However, it’s not only used by the System Restore feature. It’s also used by Windows Information Protection (WIP), formerly known as enterprise data protection (EDP) to store the encryption keys. In addition, SVI stores metadata and information used by Windows Backup, System Image Backup, Volume Shadow Copy service, and Windows Search indexing.

What does the System Volume Information folder contain?

Here is the sample directory structure of the System Volume Information folder on the system drive:

C:.
│   IndexerVolumeGuid
│   Syscache.hve
│   WPSettings.dat
│
├───EDP
│   └───Recovery
├───Windows Backup
│   └───Catalogs
│           GlobalCatalog.wbcat
│           GlobalCatalogCopy.wbcat
│           GlobalCatalogLock.dat
│
├───SPP
│ └───OnlineMetadataCache
│ └───SppCbsHiveStore
│ └───SppGroupCache
├───SystemRestore
│ └───AppxProgramDataStaging
│ └───AppxStaging
│ └───ComPlusStaging
│ └───FRStaging
│ └───FRStaging{8665F319-6B09-46AE-AAEE-75CF8D2D0EC8}
└───WindowsImageBackup
    ├───Catalog
    │       BackupGlobalCatalog
    │       GlobalCatalog
    │
    └───SPPMetadataCache
            {17466c2b-b1e0-4958-b962-c0c19974d1a0}
            {24499217-fe70-4f88-89e7-77fae19d93b5}
            {4149d215-92c7-447c-bcb6-0cbfbe517afd}
            {4277e4fa-9920-40c7-b307-22bcf52d492d}

what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

Whereas, on a USB flash drive or SD card (previously used on a Windows computer), the System Volume Information contains only these two files:
  • WPSettings.dat
  • IndexerVolumeGuid

what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

The Volume Shadow Copy, System Restore, Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider, and the Windows Backup services store data in SPP, SystemRestore and other folders.

  • IndexerVolumeGuid is a file used by the Windows Search service. The file contains the GUID of the current volume or partition. The search indexer, instead of just relying upon a drive-letter, uses the volume GUID for indexing. This is because the drive-letters can change every now and then, especially for flash drives and external hard disks, but the volume GUIDs won’t.

    what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

    You can see hundreds of references to the volume GUID in the Windows Search related registry keys. Here is an example:

    what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

  • Tracking.log in the System Volume Information folder is used by the Distributed Link Tracking Client service (TrkWks) in Windows, which tracks links to files on NTFS-formatted partitions. It tracks links in scenarios where the link is made to a file on an NTFS volume, such as shell shortcuts and OLE links. If that file is renamed, moved to another volume, Windows uses Distributed Link Tracking to find the file.

    When you access a link that has moved, Distributed Link Tracking locates the link; you are unaware that the file has moved, or that Distributed Link Tracking is used to find the moved file. Tracking.log file is created by the Distributed Link Tracking Service to store maintenance information.

    Remember seeing this “Problem with Shortcut” prompt before?

    what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it
    You must have seen this “missing shortcut” message

    If Distributed Link Tracking service is turned off and the shortcut target is moved or deleted from your system, Windows fails to track the link.

  • WPSettings.dat – (No info available)
  • {GUID_n} files may be used by Volume Shadow Copy service
  • AppxProgramDataStaging contains a backup of your AppRepository\Packages folder under ProgramData folder.
  • AppxStaging contains a backup of your WindowsApps folder.

Why is System Volume Information folder not visible in Explorer?

System Volume Information is hidden and protected for obvious reasons. This means it won’t show up in File Explorer unless you configure Folder Options →  View tab to show hidden and protected system files.

what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

After you dismiss the dialog by pressing OK, you should see the SVI folder on each drive.

Why System Volume Information is not accessible?

The System Volume Information folder is restricted using NTFS permissions. By default, only the NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM account has access (Full control) to the folder and its subfolders.

Even if you’re an administrator-level user, you’ll see the message System Volume Information is not accessible. Access is denied.

what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

If you need to get into the folder to check its contents, see Microsoft article How to gain access to the System Volume Information folder. and Take Ownership of a File or Folder Using Command-Line in Windows

Can System Volume Information folder be deleted?

No. The folder, as said before, is not just the System Restore snapshots store folder. Because it contains information and metadata used by Backup, Volume Shadow Copy and Search indexer, this folder should not be deleted, especially if it’s a system drive or the drives which are included in Windows Search index.

On USB flash drives and SD cards, you may delete the folder if you don’t plan to include its locations in the Search index. However, I’d recommend leaving the folder as it is even on external drives, as it takes not much disk space. As the folder is hidden and protected (attributes: System + Hidden), it won’t be much of an annoyance.

Why is System Volume Information huge?

System Volume Information can consume gigabytes of disk space if System Restore is enabled on the drive. But, unlike earlier versions of Windows, Windows 10 doesn’t automatically create restore points every 24 hours. It creates it only when needed so that there won’t be unnecessary restore points.

But if you need, you can create one daily using a custom script with Task Scheduler.

If you’re using low capacity hardware like a 150 GB hard disk, you can either lower the disk space allocation for System Restore or clear all restore points to save disk space.

  1. Launch sysdm.cpl from the Run dialog
  2. Click System Protection
  3. Select the drive for which you want to reduce the disk space allotment. Click Configure.

    what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

    This tab shows the current disk usage by System Restore in the System Volume Information folder.

  4. Under Disk Space Usage, drag the Max Usage slider towards the left.
    what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

    Or, to reduce the disk space slider in a granular fashion, click exactly on the pointer in the slider to select it. And use the left or right arrows on your keyboard. Each tap of the left or right arrow decreases or increases the disk usage slider by 1%.

    If you reduce the slider to the left, the disk space allocation to the System Restore feature is lowered, which in turn keeps the System Volume Information folder size low. The oldest restore points are purged automatically (FIFO) so that the System Restore doesn’t use more space than what you allocated.

    You also have the option to delete all the restore points for the drive. Press the Delete button if the system has very low disk space.

    If your anti-virus software warns of a virus in the System Volume Information folder, you may need to disable system protection and click Apply in the above dialog. This erases all your restore points. You can turn it back again.

    RELATED: How to reduce the space allotted to System Restore using the Vssadmin.exe command-line?

  5. Click OK, OK.

    Note that you can use Disk Cleanup to clear all but the latest Restore Point.

    what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it

    Start Disk Cleanup as administrator and select the system partition. Click on More Options. Click Clean up…

    This option removes all but the most recent restore point. It also erases shadow copies and older Backup images as part of restore points. As a result, the System Volume Information folder’s disk space usage will be remarkably reduced.

    If you want to delete individual restore points without clearing them all, see How to Delete Individual System Restore Points in Windows

Prevent System Volume Information Creation on USB pen drives

The System Volume Information folder appears on the root of every disk partition in your system. The folder is created on external hard drives, SD cards, and USB flash drive or pen drives as well.

Prevent System Volume Information Creation on USB Pen Drives

So far, we saw in detail about the System Volume Information folder. Let’s now see how to prevent the creation of System Volume Information folder on your USB flash drive, external drive, or SD card formatted with NTFS.

There is a widely circulating (on the internet) fix for this problem. They suggest setting the registry policy DisableRemovableDriveIndexing to 0 in the following registry key to prevent the creation of SVI folder. If the policy is enabled, locations on removable drives cannot be added to libraries. In addition, locations on removable drives cannot be indexed.
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\windows search

The registry value corresponds to Do not allow locations on removable drives to be added to libraries Group Policy setting.

However, setting DisableRemovableDriveIndexing to 0 in that registry key doesn’t prevent the creation of System Volume Information folder on removable drives when I tested in Windows 10.

On USB flash drives or SD cards, the Windows Search Indexer SearchIndexer.exe creates the System Volume Information (SVI) folder and two files: IndexerVolumeGuid and WPSettings.dat in that folder. The IndexerVolumeGUID file stores the unique identifier (GUID) of the current partition or volume.

what is system volume information folder, and can i delete it



WPSettings.dat may have been created by the Storage Service, which the Windows Store app uses. If the Storage Service is disabled in an attempt to disable the creation of WPSettings.dat, then downloading apps in Windows Store cause error 0x800706D9Something unexpected happened and no apps can be installed from the Store.Prevent System Volume Information Creation on USB Pen Drives

To reenable Storage Service, start Services.msc → double-click Storage Service → Set its startup type to Manual.

Step 1: Deleting the System Volume Information folder on USB

On NTFS volumes, the SVI folder by default can be accessed only by the SYSTEM account which has the Full Control permissions. You can remove the System Volume Information folder using the following commands from an admin Command Prompt.

Replace H:\ in the following example with the actual drive letter of your USB/SD card media. Make sure you don’t inadvertently remove the SVI folder in your system partition or elsewhere.

cd /d h:\

takeown /f "System Volume Information" /r /d y

rd /s /q "System Volume Information"

Prevent System Volume Information Creation on USB Pen Drives

This removes the System Volume Information folder along with the sub-folders (if any) and files.

RELATED: Take Ownership of a File or Folder Using Command-Line in Windows

Step 2:  Prevent the creation of System Volume Information on a USB Pen drive

The System Volume Information folder is created by Windows Search indexer program which runs under the SYSTEM account. This is the process which creates the SVI folder along with the two files in it.

By denying Write access for the SYSTEM account to the root directory of a USB drive, you can stop SVI folder from being created.

Important: Don’t perform the following steps on a USB drive or SD media if you’re using it as a storage volume for File History, Windows Backup, System Image Backup, etc., If you deny ‘write’ access to the SYSTEM account on the drive, none of those tools will be able to work correctly.

From an admin Command Prompt, run the following command:

icacls h:\  /deny system:W

Prevent System Volume Information Creation on USB Pen Drives

The above command denies “Write” access to the SYSTEM account on the root of H:\ (USB media drive-letter).

If you want to do this via the Security tab → Advanced Security Settings, configure it as shown in the image below:

Prevent System Volume Information Creation on USB Pen Drives

How to reverse or undo the Permission entry?

To undo or reverse the above permission setting, run this command:

icacls h:\  /remove:d system

With the “Deny” permission entry removed, the SYSTEM account will now be able to write to the root of the drive. Search indexer will create the System Volume Information folder on the drive.

Hope this article provided detailed information about the System Volume Information folder in Windows.


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About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded Winhelponline.com back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and he has been a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012.

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