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Backing up System Reserved- EC8F17B7

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How to fix Error EC8F17B7: Cannot create recovery points for job: Drive Backup of System Reserved (*:\), (C:\).

Error E4F3000E: Snapshot failure while using Volume Shadow Copy Service. Please check application event log for VSS errors. Error code: VSS_E_INSUFFICIENT_STORAGE (-2147212513). (UMI:V-281-3215-6071)

Having just added a new SSD, I thought it would be a good time to update from a working copy of Ghost 15 to Symantec System Recovery Desktop.  Here is what I had to do to make it work.  Unnoticed at first, the SSD disk clone program shrank my System Reserved area.

In order to back up a volume, Symantec System Recovery uses windows shadow storage to create a snapshot in time of the volume, including the state of any open files.  If no files are ever open, as on a System Reserved partition, it should not be necessary to freeze the state of the volume, but SSR Is not aware of this.

A shadow need not be as large as the volume itself.  It is sufficient to maintain copies only of the files which have changed since the snapshot was taken.  When a Shadow copy is requested, SSR uses a size which is much too large in proportion to this tiny partition size. 

What about expanding the existing System Reserved area?  Not without raising the lower end of the C: partition to make room.  The repartitioning software with Windows 7 can only move the upper end of the partition.

You could back up the C drive, repartition the drive, do a restore and recreate a new System Reserved partition.  Not so easy without a good backup of the system reserved partition.

In short, many users of Symantec System Recovery Desktop Edition will have trouble backing up their System Reserved partitions.  A search of the Support site indicates that at least two customers gave up on SSR (likely the Desktop Edition) falling back to their previous software for lack of an effective solution.  The SSR User Guide does not warn about this requirement for the System Reserved partition, nor will most users know how to free up space on that partition.

It would be nice if Symantec would: 

  1. Check to see if the partition being backed up is System Reserved and, if so, back it up directly without using shadow as it has no files are ever open and doesn't need a shadow.
  2. Ask for a smaller shadow size when backing up very small partitions.

My System Reserved partition is quite small, namely 99.9 MB.  It showed only 5% free.   Here is how I made it work:

  1. First let's give System Reserved a temporary drive letter e.g. R. Click start, Computer, right click and choose management to open the Computer Management console. Click Disk management and right click the System Reserved line.  Add a drive letter to the volume.
  2. Next, let's open a command window with administrator privs.
  3. Run Explorer.exe from the command window to look at the System Reserved partition. Make sure Show system and hidden files is enabled.
  4. My first step was to add up the space used by each of the directories. They added up to less than 50MB, yet I was showing only 5% free, not the 50% I expected.
  5. This step is optional, but allows you to see actual usage by hidden files. If you like, skip to step 6.  You will need to change security to look under the System Volume Information directory.  Right click the directory name, choose properties, security tab.  Hit edit, add, and enter your username in the box. Hit check name, then OK.  Continuing with explorer, I looked under Chkdsk and found it puts a log here that was taking almost 50 megabytes.  Behind a hidden directory, it was not being reported as taking space. Use your explorer window to remove your username from the directory permissions you have changed.
  6. Now I know what the problem is, there is an easier way to check the size of this file:

           chkdsk /R R:

  1. You can set the log file to its minimum size of 2048 Kbytes and verify this change with the same command you used in step 6.

           chkdsk /L:2048 R:

  1. Article ID TECH200584 is a good advanced level discussion of shadows.
    Unfortunately, it does not point out that the vssadmin command on non-server versions of windows is limited to a subset of the commands that would be useful.  Specifically the client version will not let you locate the shadow for your System Reserved partition on another volume.
  2. Use this command to limit shadow storage to 50 MB.

           vssadmin resize shadowstorage /for=r: /on=r: /maxsize=50MB
           successfully resized the shadow copy storage association

  1. And verify with:

           vssadmin list shadowstorage R:
           vssadmin 1.1 - Volume Shadow Copy Service administrative command-line tool

           (C) Copyright 2001-2005 Microsoft Corp.

           Shadow Copy Storage association
           For volume: (R:)\\?\Volume{eabdbb45-c3d5-11e3-9386-806e6f6e6963}\
           Shadow Copy Storage volume: (R:)\\?\Volume{eabdbb45-c3d5-11e3-9386-806e6f6e6963}\
           Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
           Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 0 B (0%)
           Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 50 MB (50%)

           Shadow Copy Storage association
           For volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{eabdbb46-c3d5-11e3-9386-806e6f6e6963}\
           Shadow Copy Storage volume: (C:)\\?\Volume{eabdbb46-c3d5-11e3-9386-806e6f6e6963}\
           Used Shadow Copy Storage space: 335.234 MB (0%)
           Allocated Shadow Copy Storage space: 1.188 GB (0%)
           Maximum Shadow Copy Storage space: 23.837 GB (10%)

           Symantec System Recovery Desktop now has what it needs to create the small shadow.

  1. Remove the drive letter R you added in step 1.

Having fixed the shadow problem, I now started getting an unrelated error:

Error EBAB0013. A test that safeguards the integrity of the program failed unexpectedly. 

Symantec's C:\Program Files\Symantec System Recovery\Utility\partinfo.exe finds invalid CHS information.  Interesting for a copy of windows that boots fine and had been running for a week.  Likely Window uses redundant LBA information to locate the partitions.  Booting from the standard windows System Repair disk (control panel, backup and restore, Create system repair disk), I ran Startup Repair. It finds and fixes an issue.  Problem solved, backups now run perfectly.