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"Backups.......I don't need no stinking backups"....whatever!

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The Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) component of Windows Server 2003 (This includes SBS 2003) coordinates the activities of providers, writers and requestors for creating and using shadow copies.  During a backup operation the requestor uses VSS along with other components to define the type of backup operations in progress.  Wow...sounds cool, so what does all of this mean?   In a nutshell; If VSS isn't happy...backups arent happy. 

So how do I know if there is an issue with VSS anyway?

Some of the symptoms we were seeing:

  1. Volume snapshots fail with various errors.
  2. NTBackup may not perform backups using Volume Shadow Copy Service.                         
  3. Error 0x80004002: No such interface supported. When accessing the Volume Snapshots tab via the properties of a drive.
  4. You will also see errors and events when running NTBackup including: Error returned while creating the volume shadow copy:0xffffffff.
  5. May see Event ID 6013's pointing to Source VSS.
  6. MSDE Writer does not show up when running VSSADMIN LIST WRITERS.  Sounds important, how do I check for that???

C:\VSSADMIN LIST WRITERS  <enter>  WARNING: This can take a while to run!

  • It will return a long list of "writers".  The one we are interested in, in this case is one labled 'MSDEWriter'.  If this is missing the fix below will not work... that involves WMSDE and osql commands....fun.

So whats the fix....

In most cases, re-registering the VSS binaries resolves the issue. 

To re-register VSS binaries and services, first stop the Volume Shadow Copy Service:

  1. Open a command prompt and change to \windows\system32
  2. net stop vss

Then register the following dlls and services (be sure you're still in the
windows\system32 directory at your command prompt):

regsvr32 ole32.dll
regsvr32 vss_ps.dll
vssvc /Register
regsvr32 /i swprv.dll
regsvr32 /i eventcls.dll
regsvr32 es.dll
regsvr32 stdprov.dll
regsvr32 vssui.dll
regsvr32 msxml.dll
regsvr32  msxml3.dll
regsvr32 msxml4.dll

Test the backup...  If the issue still remains you may want to see if COM+ could also be an issue.

How do I check COM+ integrity?

  1. Start\Run\dcomcnfg
  2. This will open Component Services
  3. "+" sign next to Component Services
  4. "+" sign next to the "Computers folder"
  5. "+" sign next to the "My Computer"
  6. Open the four folders listed below

If they all open without error, COM+ should be good.  If they don't please see the instructions below:

Be sure the system account you are using is a member of the SQL Administrators group.

On a post SP1 Systems to Reinstall COM+

  1. Backup and then delete HKLM\Software\Microsoft\COM3
  2. Rename the C:\windows\system32\clbcatq.dll to ~clbcatq.dll.  Be sure to use
    the tilde.
  3. 3. Control Panel - Add or Remove Programs tool - Add/Remove Windows Components tool. Do not make any changes, just click "Next". This reinstalls COM+.
  4. 4. Reboot. 

If you have Windows Server 2003 SP1 files available during this step.  Sometimes you will receive errors when installing, you can safely ignore them.


  • http://blogs.technet.com/edwalt/archive/2006/02/02/418665.aspx
    Wayne today happened to post that his...

  • do you know howe to fix missing msde writer issue?

    having this problem and can't seem to find a solution... thanks  Nathan

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  • Hi all , very nice site! Thank You !

  • I hate these types of errors.. I will let you know if the blonde can master them without pinging you ;) Thanks for posting Wayne.

  • Thanks, looks like this fix might have helped our backup. :)

  • http://blogs.technet.com/edwalt/archive/2006/02/02/418665.aspx Blonde moment of the evening... Then register

  • Ed: I've tried this fix for my ntbackup problems but it doesn't solve the issue. My MSDEwriter is present and stable however the SQLserverWriter is not present, even though the service is running automatically with the proper Local System credentials.

    Any ideas about this? I can't back up my server and w/o a decent backup, I can't even reinstall the operating system. I'm really up against a wall here.


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