Backup of the System State of a Small Business Server 2011 fails with errors provided below. Additionally running "VSSADMIN List Writers" after the failure reports that multiple writers report a "Failed" state with a last error of "Timed Out".
Note: The messages in this article refer to those seen by Backup Exec 2010 R3 installed on the same server, a remote installation of Backup Exec, Backup Exec 2012 and/or other Operating Systems might return different messages for the same condition.
AOFO: Initialization failure on: "System?State". Advanced Open File Option used: Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).
V-79-10000-11226 - VSS Snapshot error. The Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) snapshot provider selected returned: "Unexpected provider error".
Final error: 0x8004230f - 0x8004230f
This is caused by a large USB disk using the latest technology being connected to the server concerned. If the attached disk is configured with a new native 4KB sector size then this problem can occur. USB disks using a 512 byte sector size will not see the condition.
The 4KB sector size is not supported by Microsoft for Operating Systems up to and including Windows 2008 R2 and Microsoft have provided a knowledgebase article describing their support that (at the time of writing) is available at:
NOTE: Customers that use this solution should be aware that due to lack of support by Microsoft the configuration is also not officially supported by Symantec and is defined as an "Alternative Configuration" (see bottom of this document for definition of an "Alternative Configuration")
Hardware vendors of these types of drive sometimes provide a method to configure the format of the drive to use a 512 byte emulation mode (sometimes called "Advanced Format" or "512E"). Symantec have seen that reconfiguring using this emulation (and rebooting the server to reset the VSS state) can both solve the VSS errors and allow the drive to be used a disk storage device for backup operations.
The exact steps required to reconfigure as "512E" varies depending on the hardware vendor and the model of drive. As an example: for at least one Western Digital drive, it is normally supplied with a utility called "WD Quick Format" which should be used to reformat with "Factory Default" (apparently the drive in question is not supplied with this default applied) . Affected customers are encouraged to contact their hardware vendor for details of how to change the format.
After changing the format, the change can be confirmed by using the information regarding fsutil provided in the Microsoft article referenced in the Cause section. If the drive in question will be used as a backup storage device, customers should perform some backup and restore tests and also use the Symantec B2DTest tool to confirm operation.
Our Licensed Software is designed to interoperate with many types of systems, applications, and hardware. Sometimes a customer may choose to use our Licensed Software in an "Alternative Configuration", namely,an environment that has not been validated, approved or verified to operate with our Licensed Software or which does not support such Licensed Software or only supports limited functionality. In most cases, we do not support Alternative Configurations, and we have no obligation to provide Support Services to Licensed Software in an Alternative Configuration. Symantec makes no warranty with respect to use of Licensed Software in an Alternative Configuration and any such use is at your own risk. A "Supported Configuration" might be converted into an Alternative Configuration where a vendor modifies one of its components that is part of the original Supported Configuration. As a consequence, your Licensed Software would then be operating in an Alternative Configuration. If you experience a problem with the Licensed Software in an Alternative Configuration or if your issue deals with script that was not developed by Symantec or an authorized consulting partner, then we may ask you to reproduce the problem in a Supported Configuration environment. Please note we have no obligation to attempt to resolve problems that cannot be replicated in a Supported Configuration. However, if the problem can be replicated in a Supported Configuration, we will investigate the problem in that Supported Configuration and attempt to resolve it. If the problem cannot be replicated in a Supported Configuration, then we may elect not to work on that problem.