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The VSS Writer Is in a Bad State

A backup fails out or gives a warning saying "Failed to create a snapshot for the local volumes ___" or something similar.  Shortly afterward, in the backup job log, is a message saying "The VSS writer ___ is in a bad state."  These errors either prevent the backup job from completing all tasks successfully or cause the backup job to fail right away.  This error may occur every time the backup runs or may occur sporadically.

 

Explanation


When Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy service creates the shadow copies for a backup job, the VSS writers are involved in preparing their respective data for that process.  If they cannot do this, the resulting shadow copy will be incomplete or inconsistent and will not be usable in the backup job. 

In order for the backup to complete successfully, the shadow copy of volumes you intended to backup must be made which, in this case, may mean correcting the failed writer.

Note:  If the last error for a failed VSS writer is "Waiting for completion," this does not mean the writer is inoperable.  Generally, this error is innocuous and does not usually prevent shadow copies from being made.

 

Resolution


As with any VSS issue, it is first recommended you attempt to track down the VSS failure to either a "VSS" or "volsnap" error in the Application or System logs in Event Viewer, respectively.  These events will more accurately reflect the nature of the VSS failure and allow you to troubleshoot the problem more effectively. 

If you are unable to resolve VSS issues using the resources we provide, it is recommended you contact Microsoft Support.  Intronis can suggest resolution steps for fixing VSS but, ultimately, it is a Microsoft product.  We cannot guarantee to fix all VSS issues.

VSS writers may malfunction for any number of reasons, however, generally you can fix them by either restarting the service corresponding to the writer or rebooting the machine.  To find out which VSS writers are in non-stable states, use the following command in an elevated command prompt:

vssadmin list writers

This should list the writer names, states, and last error.  If any writer's state is something besides "[1] Stable" then you may need to refresh that writer.  To do this, first try restarting the service corresponding to the writer.  Below is a list of common VSS writers and their respective services (this list is not exhaustive):

VSS Writer Service Name Service Display Name
ASR Writer VSS Volume Shadow Copy
BITS Writer BITS Background Intelligent Transfer Service
COM+ REGDB Writer VSS Volume Shadow Copy
DFS Replication Service Writer DFSR DFS Replication
DHCP Jet Writer DHCPServer DHCP Server
FRS Writer NtFrs File Replication
FSRM Writer srmsvc File Server Resource Manager
IIS Config Writer AppHostSvc Application Host Helper Service
IIS Metabase Writer IISADMIN IIS Admin Service
Microsoft Exchange Writer MSExchangeIS Microsoft Exchange Information Store
Microsoft Hyper-V VSS Writer vmms Hyper-V Virtual Machine Management
MSMQ Writer (MSMQ) MSMQ Message Queuing
MSSearch Service Writer WSearch Windows Search
NTDS NTDS Active Directory Domain Services
OSearch VSS Writer OSearch Office SharePoint Server Search
OSearch14 VSS Writer OSearch14 SharePoint Server Search 14
Registry Writer VSS Volume Shadow Copy
Shadow Copy Optimization Writer VSS Volume Shadow Copy
SPSearch VSS Writer SPSearch Windows SharePoint Services Search
SPSearch4 VSS Writer SPSearch4 SharePoint Foundation Search V4
SqlServerWriter SQLWriter SQL Server VSS Writer
System Writer CryptSvc Cryptographic Services
TermServLicensing TermServLicensing Remote Desktop Licensing
WIDW Writer WIDWriter Windows Internal Database
WINS Jet Writer WINS Windows Internet Name Service (WINS)
WMI Writer Winmgmt Windows Management Instrumentation

If restarting the writer's service does not put the writer in a stable state or the service cannot be restarted, you may need to reboot the machine to fix the VSS writers.  If a reboot does not fix them, consider re-registering the VSS writers or reinstalling the application that writer corresponds to.

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