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System State (using WSB) / (using Wbadmin) plug-in troubleshooting

Article ID: 56
Last updated: 29 Jan, 2015

Getting Started with System State Troubleshooting

The System State (Using WSB) plugin goes through several stages during the backup process.
The first stage is to call the Windows Server Backup (WSB) engine that creates a Virtual Hard Disk image (VHD) for each of the system disks in the machine.
The second stage is where an Attix5 sub-process called “SplitVHD” is run. This splits the large VHD file(s) out into separate files, so that these can be de-duplicated from one backup to the next. This saves on data transmission, and on data stored on the Storage Platform back end. The process on Windows Serer 2012 is SplitVHDX, but is otherwise the same.

Sometimes System State backup fails with a Windows Server Backup error, eg:

[System State (using WSB) Plug-in] System state backup failed: 

In this scenario, follow the instructions below for System State Backup Failure

Sometimes the System State backup will succeed and the SplitVHD or SplitVHDX process will fail, eg:

[System State (using WSB) Plug-in] Waiting for wbadmin to complete.

[System State (using WSB) Plug-in] System state backup completed

[System State (using WSB) Plug-in] Splitting VHD to optimise patching

[System State (using WSB) Plug-in] SplitVHDX.exe has an error (exit code = 2).

In this scenario, follow the instructions in FAQ204:

Note: If you do have a SplitVHD or SplitVHDX failure, following the Windows Server Backup System State failure instructions will not resolve your problem, as this process has to complete successfully for SplitVHD or SplitVHDX to have run.

System State Backup Failure

The System State (using WSB) / (using Wbadmin) plug-in sometimes throws an error when a backup is run.

For example:

[System State (using WSB) Plug-in] System state backup failed: Exit Code = -3

The most frequent error codes are:

  1. "Exit code = -2"
  2. "Exit code = -3"
  3. "Exit code = -4"

Error code "Exit Code = -2"

  • Check to see if the plug-in is configured to back up to a volume that Windows has designated “critical”. Typically, boot and system volumes have been designated in this way. This can be fixed by applying the “Overriding Critical Volume Check” registry tweak (see below).
  • Ensure there is sufficient disk space to create the backup image. Typically Wbadmin needs around 12-14 GB of disk space, but this will increase as more Windows components are installed.

    Note: There are no controls for what is backed up – this is selected by Windows itself. For example, if Remote Installation Services in configured, install images will be included in the backup which can significantly increase the backup size.

  • Make sure that the Windows Backup Service is not already running, either as a scheduled or manual task. This will conflict with the "System State Using Windows Server Backup" plug-in. Make sure that the service is not running, and try re-running the backup.

Error code "Exit Code = -3"

This indicates a problem running the System State in Windows Server Backup, which is a Windows Component.

  • Check the Windows event log for a “Backup” error at around the same time that the error code is shown in Attix5 Pro. You should find an Event code (e.g. 517) and an error code (e.g. 2155348012).
  • Descriptions of backup error codes can be found here:
  • Searching for the error code using a search engine may also locate extra information about the error. Using the event ID and error code you will often find the solution in Microsoft's Technet pages.

Other causes of the problem include but are not limited to antivirus software interference, broken drivers, broken or missing VSS writers, and other backup software conflicting with Windows Server Backup.

  • Check the free disk space and for other conflicting backups as described in "Exit code -2" above as there can also be a cause of a "-3".
  • If you need to view the Windows Backup Service logs, these can be found in C:\Windows\Logs\WindowsBackup, but they are often blank.
  • You may need to try running Windows Server Backup from the Command Line to exclude Attix5 from the testing process. This is:

wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:E:
(Where E: is the backup target volume. Note that running the command to a different volume may produce different results.)

Note: There is no "catch all fix" for an "Exit code =-3." The fixes listed in the Attix5 FAQ pages are for specific errors. It is not recommended to apply fixes designed for unrelated error codes. If a solution cannot be found on Technet, please contact Microsoft for technical support.

Error code "Exit Code = -4"

Possible causes are:

  • There is a problem with access to the WindowsImageBackup folder on the target drive.
  • This can be a permissions problem - try changing the user for the Attix5 backup service to one with administrative rights and try running the backup again. If the new user has permission to rename the Backup folder, it can resolve the problem.
  • Make sure the WindowsImageBackup folder allows the Attix5 backup service user and "Block Level Backup" service user full control.
  • An anti-virus software is intercepting or interfering with file and folder renames within the WindowsImageBackup or VHDTemp folders. The anti-virus should be configured to exclude all Attix5 working folders as explained in FAQ225.

Overriding Critical Volume Check

If the server only has a single volume (C:), or all volumes are marked as critical, a value must be added to the registry to override the “critical” volume check.

Note: Always make a backup of the registry BEFORE making any changes.

Registry edit
  1. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\wbengine\SystemStateBackup\
  2. Set the value of this entry as follows:
    • Name: AllowSSBToAnyVolume
    • Data type: DWORD
    • Value data: 1​
  3. After modifying the registry, restart the machine.
  4. Please see for more information.

Other Scenarios

Please also see FAQ72 for some other specific scenarios that can cause Windows Server Backup failures:

Article ID: 56
Last updated: 29 Jan, 2015
Revision: 13
Views: 48507
Comments: 0
Posted: 11 Mar, 2011 by Van Rensburg J.
Updated: 29 Jan, 2015 by Flood A.
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