Uninstalling Visio Breaks Windows XP Backup

For a couple of months, I had been getting errors from our corporate backup application reporting that it was unable to backup all files. The problem had nothing to do with the backup client itself (Iron Mountain Connected Backup), but was actually a problem caused by uninstalling Microsoft Visio which broke Windows XP’s Volume Shadow Copy feature.

For anyone else experiencing a similar problem, I’ll document the issue. Back in March, I started getting notices that backup had failed and the backup client’s status box would list each problem with a message like the one below.

The Agent could not back up C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\NTUSER.DAT because it was open or in use. To activate open file handling, create at least one NTFS volume. For open file handling to work properly, your computer must have at least 5-10% free disk space on one NTFS volume. Alternatively, try closing all open applications and running the backup again.

As it happened, I did have less than 10% space free so I ignored the errors for a while. After several weeks, I finally got around to cleaning up my drive so that I had around 20% free and I was still getting the problem.

At that point, I took a closer look. In addition to the per-file errors, the application also showed an additional set of warnings in its status box in addition to the list of errors listing each file.

Fri May 13 15:27:23 EDT 2011 Open file handling is disabled. The Agent may be unable to back up files that are open or in use. To enable open file handling, expand the Services Node in the Microsoft Management Console and set the Start Type for Volume Shadow Copy to Manual or Automatic.
Fri May 13 15:27:24 EDT 2011 The Open File Handler could not create a snapshot during a backup. The Agent continued the backup but could not back up files that were open or in use. Try running the backup again. If this problem continues, contact Support.

The Volume Shadow Copy service was already set to run as Manual and changing it to Automatic made no difference. I exported the backup log to a text file and saw some additional helpful lines at the bottom.

5/13/11 3:27 PM Error during the last asynchronous operation. HRESULT = VSS_E_WRITER_INFRASTRUCTURE(0x80042318).
5/13/11 3:27 PM CreateSnapShot exiting abnormally. HRESULT = VSS_E_WRITER_INFRASTRUCTURE(0x80042318).

MSDN documents that status code in the reference for the IVssBackupComponents::GatherWriterStatus method.

The writer infrastructure is not operating properly. Check that the Event Service and VSS have been started, and check for errors associated with those services in the error log.

Several entries like the following were in my system’s Application Event Log.

Event Type:    Error
Event Source:    VSS
Event Category:    None
Event ID:    5013
Date:        5/13/2011
Time:        3:27:23 PM
User:        N/A
Computer:    PHICIL424D7E
Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Shadow Copy writer ContentIndexingService called routine RegQueryValueExW which failed with status 0x80070002 (converted to 0x800423f4).

This error is the root of the problem and is documented in the Microsoft support article, “You receive a ‘Volume Shadow Copy Service’ error message and event 5013 or event 12302 is logged when you use the Backup feature in Windows XP or in Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005.

The article states that if you have a search catalog under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\ContentIndex\Catalogs key that refers to a location that no longer exists, you will get this error.

I did indeed have a subkey, Visio, with a pointer to the Program Files\Office11 directory. I had uninstalled Visio so I simply deleted this subkey. Once it was gone, the backup completed without error.

Once I knew this had something to do with Visio, I found a post on the microsoft.public.windows.server.sbs newsgroup where a Microsoft technician mentioned that “It is reported that the [registry] key may not be deleted when you uninstall Visio.”

I had no idea Visio had even created a search catalog, but it appears to have been there to support shape searches.

It looks like they may have fixed this in Server 2008, Vista and beyond, so it’s only those of us on older systems that are affected. I’m looking forward to getting upgraded to Window 7 later this year. Not that it doesn’t have an issue or two of its own.

One Response to Uninstalling Visio Breaks Windows XP Backup

  1. Ulises S says:

    Thanks! You are the man!

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