Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) Troubleshooting Guide Part 1 of 3

Welcome to the Most Comprehensive VSS Troubleshooting Guide on the Internet!

If you are running into issues with VSS, this free, multi-page guide will most likely help you fix the problem. We put together a dozen different strategies to help you out. If nothing else helps, we offer a VSS repair service, see bottom of Buy page.

new Download our freeware VssDiag™ tool which helps you find error details in Windows.
Download this VSS guide as PDF, click here to download

How to Fix Volume Shadow Copy Service: 11 Strategies

BackupChain contains a Volume Shadow Copy Service test feature to test the VSS function on your drive C:. Simply hold Ctrl and press T once in order to run a test. Note: it may take several minutes to complete.

We have put together Strategies #1 to #11 (see Part II and Part III) and hope these strategies will help you out:

Step #1: The First Thing To Do Before Attempting Fixes

Check Windows Event Viewer logs and several sub-logs; this will save you hours if not days!

In addition, download our VssDiag tool which helps you find VSS error entries.

This is the most crucial step in fixing the problem: dig through the Event Viewer logs. If you haven't done this before, it's a great opportunity to approach it now since the Event Viewer system is where Windows logs almost everything. Once you know the exact cause, the fix is usually trivial.


VSS Repair Strategy #1 of 11

Reboot. For some reason, servers that haven't been rebooted in a while cause VSS to malfunction. As all Microsoft veterans know, you need to reboot regularly as a preventive and cleanup measure for your system. Rebooting will eliminate VSS problems caused by transient VSS errors.


VSS Repair Strategy #2 of 11

Open vssadmin from the command line (run cmd as administrator).

Enter vssadmin delete shadows /all to clean up any dead VSS snapshots. Some defect systems accumulate hundreds of VSS snapshots that persist in the system and cause Windows to become unresponsive.

Enter vssadmin list writers and check for errors. If you receive any errors for one VSS writer, you may need to fix that particular VSS writer. It is common to receive writer errors caused by Microsoft's Virtual Server 2005 VSS writer.

If you see a VSS writer error, try the following:

Restart the services: COM+ System Application Service, Distributed Transaction Coordinator Service, and Volume Shadow Copy Service

and also restart the affected VSS writer service, for example Virtual Server 2005 VSS writer or Hyper-V VSS writer.

Check the Event Viewer for any additional error information logged by that VSS writer.

Run again  vssadmin list writers to check if the above resolved the problem. If it didn't follow with the next strategy below:


VSS Repair Strategy #3 of 11

Uninstall all backup utilities on your computer, including Windows Backup if it's installed. You don't need to uninstall BackupChain because BackupChain doesn't contain or install any VSS writers; however, we have seen VSS writers of other backup solution developers cause system instability and errors.

After all other backup tools have been uninstalled, open the Registry Editor (regedit) as administrator and check the following branch: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\VSS\Providers

Underneath that key you should only find Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider 1.0 and no other VSS writer. If you do find another, it may be a residue registry entry of a previous software installation. You can save the entry by exporting the entire registry to a file (right click and select Export) and then it's safe to delete the entire branch entry underneath HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\VSS\Provider.

Then reboot and try again running  vssadmin list writers to confirm the problem has been resolved.

Note: If you are using specialzed attached storage that requires its own VSS provider then you'll be seeing a driver reference in the above registry key. Please leave those kinds of entries intact. In addition, on Windows Server 2012 you may find additional system related VSS providers there, which should also remain referenced.

A Note to Ex-Acronis Users (or Other Backup Tools)

The following article describes a common error caused by "Acronis" software and other backup tools that install VSS providers: The error returned from CoCreateInstance on class with CLSID {5fc845eb-f299-40f0-9725-34045f7ea8ba} and Name HWPRV is [0x80004002, No such interface supported

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