Troubleshooting VSS

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This article details how to troubleshoot VSS errors. The VSS Framework was developed by Microsoft and as such StorageCraft support is limited in troubleshooting these issues. If the VSS Framework needs further diagnosis and troubleshooting after all StorageCraft resources have been exhausted, you may need to contact Microsoft for further assistance.


Backups may fail if Microsoft’s VSS framework is in a bad state due to clashes between ShadowProtect and other programs trying to use VSS at the same time (See article on "Understanding VSS and ShadowProtect"), or if necessary system services have been mistakenly disabled. To resolve issues caused by a bad state, the system must be cleaned up before backups will function properly. There may also environmental variables, such as extremely high I/O, which can cause VSS to fail when ShadowProtect calls to VSS processes.


If Microsoft's VSS framework and/or some of the VSS writers are in a bad state, you need to clean the system up before your backups will work.

1. Cancel any running backup jobs, ending the ShadowProtect SVC process if necessary.

2. Go to Start | Run and enter "services.msc" - Click OK. Verify each startup type is set correctly:

        1. Navigate to MS Software Shadow Copy Provider. Startup Type should be set to "Manual" if it is not already.
        2. Navigate to Volume Shadow Copy. Startup Type should be set to "Manual"
        3. Navigate to the ShadowProtect or StorageCraft SPX Service. Startup Type should be set to "Automatic" 
        4. Navigate to StorageCraft Shadow Copy Provider. Startup type should be set to "Automatic"

3. Delete all greyed-out devices (non-present “Storage Volume shadow copies” devices) from previous snapshots:

        1. Run the command prompt as Administrator.
        2. Run "vssadmin list shadows" to see if there are any additional ShadowCopies which can be removed.
        3. If there are additional ShadowCopies, run “vssadmin delete shadows /all”, and select “yes” to delete all.
        4. Run devmgmt.msc to open the Device Manager with the option to show non present devices.
        5. Select “View | Show hidden devices” from the Device Manager.
        6. Scroll down until you see “Storage volume shadow copies” in the list.
          1. If it is not listed, see the previous step. Under “Storage volume shadow copies” a listing called “Generic volume shadow copies” will be shown. The icon next to them will be greyed-out
        7. Remove these items one at a time by right clicking each item and choosing uninstall. Repeat this process until all greyed-out devices are removed.

NOTE: Do not delete any of the Storage Volumes.

4. Verify state of services:

        1. Run the command prompt as Administrator. 
        2. Run the command: “vssadmin list writers”. This will display the state of any VSS-aware application writers.
        3. If any of the VSS-aware application writers are in an unstable state:
          • Troubleshoot the individual writer and error.
          • For Server 2003 or earlier only: Manually reset the state of the VSS writers.

5. Reboot the system.

6. After rebooting, but before a ShadowProtect backup has run:

        1. Run the command prompt as Administrator.
        2. Run “vssadmin list writers” and verify all VSS-aware application writers are in a stable state.


Following the steps listed above should clean up the VSS Framework enough for you to start using ShadowProtect. Proper VSS interaction is very complex and many backup products leave various components (especially VSS writers) in bad states. This can cause problems for other backup products. If you are using any other backup products, it's very likely that they will corrupt the states of various VSS components if other backups are executed at the same time as ShadowProtect backups.

Additional Information:

Related articles:

Understanding VSS and ShadowProtect - gives more basic information on what VSS is, how it works and which Operating Systems and applications are VSS aware.

Reregistering VSS steps for Server 2003: (Also referenced in the article labled: VSS Backups fail with a VSS error of 0x8000FFFF)

To attempt to reregister/reset VSS follow Microsoft's  support knowledge base article listed at:

Error message when you run the "vssadmin list writers" command on a Windows Server 2003-based computer: "Error: 0x8000FFFF"

Scroll down to the section labled:

"Let me fix it myself"

Follow this section of Microsoft's document.

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