Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Windows 2008 R2 backup exec and failure occurred accessing the Writer metadata - Workaround

Updated 9/7/09

Nothing tramples the joy of playing with a new operating system faster than finding out that your vendor is being a deadbeat and hasn't put out a compatible release yet. You'd think that out of the army of programmers that Symantec has that they'd have at least one technet or msdn subscription and that they'd have started working out compatibility issues in the meager half year that the betas were available. I was also amused to find that on their forums some of their staff didn't realize that the RTM was out yet for Windows 7 and 2008 R2... But I digress.

So you're using Backup Exec 12.5 and trying to backup a Windows 2008 R2 RTM server using the Advanced Open File option and you get this error:

V-79-57344-65225 - AOFO: Initialization failure on: "\\MyServerName\System?State". Advanced Open File Option used: Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).
Snapshot provider error (0xE000FEC9): A failure occurred accessing the Writer metadata

  • Option 1: Wait a month or so till a hotfix comes out.
  • Option 2: Wait until Backup Exec 2010 comes out with official support for R2.
  • Option 3: Fix the VSS issue that's causing it in the first place!

During the installation of Windows 2008 R2 RTM, it creates a Recovery Partition that's about 100MB. When the AOFO agent kicks in, it works with the VSS providers in the operating system to create snapshots. However, VSS really doesn't like those tiny partitions like the 100MB System Reserved (Recovery) partition. So at this point you have two choices.

  • A) Wipe the partition out. (Note, if you used Diskpart to setup the drive instead of the windows 2008 setup program, this won't exist anyway.)
  • B) Find a workaround for the VSS snapshot.

I didn't really want to do option A yet as I'm not fully sure if that'll have any impact down the line so I decided on option B.

UPDATE: Some of you reported success with just assigning the partition a drive letter. Try it and if it works for you, then don't bother with the vssadmin parts.

I got pretty familiar with the VSSADMIN command while working with Hyper-V and backups so I knew that it could be used to redirect VSS snapshots to larger partitions. The problem I ran into is that it didn't like the fact that the System Reserved partition didn't have a drive letter. So I did the quick fix and used Disk Management to assign it a random drive letter - in this case P:

Then a quick drop to a command prompt and run vssadmin list volumes

C:\Users\Administrator>vssadmin list volumes
vssadmin 1.1 - Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2001-2005 Microsoft Corp.

Volume path: P:\
Volume name: \\?\Volume{a2b716d3-8c1f-11de-a5ed-826d6f6e6973}\
Volume path: C:\
Volume name: \\?\Volume{a2b716d4-8c1f-11de-a5ed-826d6f6e6973}\
Volume path: D:\
Volume name: \\?\Volume{75c2418c-8c0e-11de-ae3c-001143dd2544}\

You'll note there's an entry for all your partitions. Now we set up a ShadowStorage for P:\ (100MB partition). ShadowStorage basically sets aside space on a volume to store snapshots of a volume. In this case I'm going to store snapshots of P: on D:

vssadmin add shadowstorage /For=P: /On=D: /MaxSize=1GB

And you have to put a MaxSize so I picked 1GB.

Now run vssadmin list shadowstorage to confirm the link has been set up.

C:\Users\Administrator>vssadmin list shadowstorage
vssadmin 1.1 - Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2001-2005 Microsoft Corp.

Shadow Copy Storage association
For volume: (P:)\\?\Volume{a2b716d3-8c1f-11de-a5ed-826d6f6e6973}\
Shadow Copy Storage volume: (D:)\\?\Volume{75b2419c-8c5e-11de-af3b-001143dd23
Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 1 GB (4%)

If you have any other volumes configured for Shadow Copies you'll also see them listed there. (i.e. If you enabled "Previous Versions" for a file share, etc)

At this point you're done. I was able to do a successful backup of the server with the AOFO (Advanced open file option) enabled after making this change. My backup seemed a bit slow but it is an older server so I can't be sure if speed was a machine issue or an R2/Symantec issue.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou - I had spent ages trying to fix this :-)

Anonymous said...

Assuming this is fixed at some point how would you reverse these changes?

Gnawgnu said...

Provided they do fix it eventually, you'd temporarily turn off or uninstall the BE agent (to release control of VSS) and use the Delete ShadowStorage command in vssadmin. Since a vss shadow target didn't exist originally, there's no harm in removing the one we added on.
After that, just remove the drive letter from the partition using Computer Management.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! This helped alot!

Anonymous said...

I Have the same problem on Windows 7 Client. By adding the drive letter to the hidden drive the problem is solved.

Thank You!

Anonymous said...

You are amazing!!! Have a Freddo Frog, you deserve it!! Thank you!

Deepsys said...

Thanks, it works.

But i have ONLY assign a drive letter to the system reserved partition.

Alberto said...

Do you guys know if version backup exec even support Windows 2008R2? Since that is what we are using.

Thanks Guys.


Alberto said...

Sorry ... I failed to mentioned the version. It is actually version 12 which I am using.

Gnawgnu said...

Symantec's typical policy is to have support within 60 days of the final release of a product. Of course, their clock appears to start at the General Availability release judging from the forum posts I've seen on it. There's also the chance that they may skip it and just force you to go to BE 2010 when it comes out instead. I'm waiting for this document to be finished:

Gnawgnu said...

It's highly unlikely that they'll support 12.0 with R2. Version 12.5 has a decent chance of being supported and the next version of that which is in beta and dubbed 2010 will support it fully.

Alberto said...

Thank you so much for the info ....

Anonymous said...

Thnx! It works !

Great job Gnawgnu ;)

Anonymous said...

works after i assign the recovery partition a drive letter

Anonymous said...

Indeed, all I had to do is assign a drive letter to the System Reserved partition and it worked beautifully.

Good going mate - thanks :o)

rebuanf said...

Thanks. I just the drive letter worked like a charm. I was killing myself over this one..

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, I have been working with this error for days and you had the answer for me. I only had to assign a drive letter and the problem was solved. Thanks!

DIT said...

Thank you so much for posting this fix! Worked like a charm! What a frustrating problem...

Anonymous said...

For those who want to use Backup Exec 12.5 as media server
on win2k8 R2 I've found a workaround :)

Perfrom Live update apply all patches for BE 12.5 & reboot your machine. Then perfrom a in-place upgrade to win2k8 R2.

I've done it from a win2k3 R2 x64 and it works like a charm!
Just to be sure you shoud make a backup before perfroming the in-place upgrade.

Jorge Córdova said...

Check this guys:

Anonymous said...

To get Windows 7 backed up, I didn't have to run any of the VSSADMIN commands mentioned below.

My fix was to apply SP3 to BE 12.5, reboot BE. Reinstall new BE 12.5 SP3 agents to Windows 7 machine. Reboot Windows 7 machine. Assign a drive letter to the 100MB partition on Windows 7. No reboot required. No VSSADMIN commands required.

MAD! said...

Hello!. We have another issue with backup exec and we're stuck.

the backup exec jobs doesn't backup any .exe file, but in the job report doesn't appear as skipped, just not appear in the backup without any error. for example in the system32 folder don't backup ANY .exe file. ¿ideas?

Gnawgnu said...

That's a new one on me. I'd try turning off antivirus on both the file server and the backup server first as they may be blocking executables from remote access. Same thing if you've got any group policies like applocker in place or any special firewall software.

El Di Pablo said...

Adding a drive letter worked for me! Thanks for this!


Anonymous said...

Thank you sooooo much!
a week to try to fix this!

Gnawgnu said...

BTW, I've now switched over to Backup Exec 2010 and it works out of the box with 2008 R2 servers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this fix; it's very helpful!

Middleman said...

DUDE, YOU ARE THE MAN, this is the only website i was able to find with proper directions.

I decided to try renaming the recovery drive to P and looks like the backup is running properly now, before it would crap out with " The job failed with the following error: A failure occurred accessing the Writer metadata."

Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks you sooooo much!!!

Kat said...

As anyone else said : Thank you so much.
Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap, clap.

Comms said...

Works. Thank you! BE12.5 on Win2003 with Win2009R2 client. Did the mapping and redirect.

Anonymous said...

Adding drive letter to system partition still works. BE12.5 on Win2k8R2. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for your information. Nothing on Microsoft forums/KB's or Symantec forums/KB's could tell me to do this. The extra step of creating the shadow copy was what fixed it for me.

Anonymous said...

This did the trick! You are definately da man (or woman), as the case may be. Thanks! :-)

King said...

Thanks this one worked like a charm!

Anonymous said...

Thanks! That fixed a long standing problem I've had. I can't believe how simple the fix is. I was able to fix it just by assiging a drive letter to the reserved partition. Awesome.