System State

Windows XP and Windows 2003

Please note that this section does not apply to windows XP or Windows 2003 as System State backups on these operating systems are completed using NTBackup

Windows 7, Windows 2008, Windows SBS 2011 and later

This section applies to Windows 7, Windows 2008, Windows SBS 2011 and later where Backup & Recovery uses the Microsoft Volume Shadow-Copy Service to take a snapshot of the System State. In order for this to be successful, the following statements must be true.

  • Microsoft Volume Shadow-Copy Service must be running and stable.
  • Cryptographic Services service must be running and stable. This service is responsible for the system state writer that is used for making a snapshot of the system state.
  • System Writer must be presented and in a stable state. The status of the System Writer may be checked by running the following command in an elevated command prompt:
  • vssadmin list writers

    Microsoft Windows [Version 10.0.15063] (c) 2017 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    C:\Windows\system32>vssadmin list writers

    vssadmin 1.1 - Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool

    (C) Copyright 2001-2013 Microsoft Corp.


    Writer name: 'System Writer' Writer Id: {e8132975-6f93-4464-a53e-1050253ae220}

    Writer Instance Id: {437fb31c-73fd-42fe-9872-632e87aabafd}

    State: [5] Waiting for completion

    Last error: No error


Error Messages and Potential Causes of Failure

VSS error 0x8004231f: Insufficient storage available to create either the shadow copy storage file or other shadow copy data on Windows Desktop Operating Systems

The VSS System State Backup may fail on Windows Desktop Operating Systems (Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10) with the above insufficient storage message where there is less than 50% free space on the System Reserved Volume (Partition).

To alleviate this issue, open the Device's Disk Management utility to appraise the available free space.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open the Run box
  2. Type diskmgmt.msc
  3. OK
  4. Accept any UAC (User Access Control) message
  5. Select the System Reserved volume to view its Capacity, Free Space and % Free

Where the volume's disk space is low, we would suggest freeing up space (move or delete files) or expanding the volume.

Long-running Initial Backup:

In the unlikely event that the initial backup of a large system state takes longer than 24 hours to complete, the backup scheduled for the following day will be skipped with the message Running a second simultaneous backup of VSS-based plugin is not allowed.

This will show as NotStarted in the Dashboard.

System Writer Permissions

In a few isolated cases it may not be possible to create a System State snapshot as the System Writer is restricted at the system level.

To alleviate this issue, it is necessary to action a change in the Windows Registry of the affected device.

  1. Press Windows key + R to open the Run box
  2. Type regedit
  3. OK
  4. Accept any UAC (User Access Control) message
  5. Navigate to:
  6. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\VSS\VssAccessControl

  7. Right-click on the default System Writer user:
  8. NT Authority\NetworkService

  9. Choose Modify
  10. Change the Value Data to 1 (1 enable, 0 disable)
  11. OK to apply
  12. Exit out of the Registry Editor

In line with best practice we suggest backing up the Windows registry before making any changes, as alterations to the Windows registry are immediately applied with no automatic backup.

For your consideration we have included Microsoft's warning on using their Registry Editor below:

WARNING: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to reinstall your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.