VMware vCenter Server Heartbeat - Restore Process on Secondary (Windows Server 2008) Fails with 'System writer is not found in the backup'



This Knowledge Base article provides a workaround for a known issue in Microsoft Windows Server 2008, 2008R2, and 2012 that causes the restore process on a Secondary server to fail with an error that states: System writer is not found in the backup.

More Information


After performing a restore on a Secondary node running Windows Server 2008, 2008R2, or 2012, most files seem to restore successfully, but an error similar to the following is displayed:

wbadmin 1.0 - Backup command-line tool
(C) Copyright 2004 Microsoft Corp.
System writer is not found in the backup.
An exception occurred:

Message: Execution failed with return code -3 Restore was aborted
At: NTBackupRestoreThread::Run()
wbadmin start systemstaterecovery -backupTarget:"\\localhost\D$\bkp" -version:07/03/2009-07:34 -quiet
The installation cannot continue.


The system writer fails because permissions to files in the %windir%\winsxs\filemaps\ or %windir%\winsxs\temp\PendingRenames directories are incorrect.


Perform the following steps to ensure the restore successfully completes:

  1. Download the FixSysWriter.bat file attached to this Knowledge Base article and run it on both the Primary and the Secondary nodes.
  2. On the Primary node:
    1. Open the vCenter Server Heartbeat Console and navigate to the Data: File Filters tab. Make a note (in a file or on a piece of paper) of all replication filters.
    2. Shutdown vCenter Server Heartbeat.
    3. Set the vCenter Server Heartbeat service to Manual using the Windows Service Control Manager.
    4. Write down the identity of this node.
    5. Open the vCenter Server Heartbeat Configure Server wizard.
      1. Select the Machine tab.
      2. Change the Physical Hardware Identity of the server scheduled for replacement to Secondary .
      3. Click Finish .
    6. Launch the Windows Server Backup utility.
      1. Start the Backup Once action.
      2. Select Different Options .
      3. In the next screen, select Custom and press Next .
      4. Verify that Enable system recovery is enabled and select any other drives that contain protected application critical program files or any other application that is required to be present on the Secondary server.
      5. Select the destination of the backup using a local location or directly on the Secondary or on the other node. If the destination is remote, a Share or Administrative Share location for that node must be provided.
      6. Before starting the backup you may want to exclude large files located on the drives selected (see step d, above) to reduce the size of the backup files.

        Note: SQL databases or any other data that is included in the File Filter set is not required to be cloned because vCenter Server Heartbeat automatically synchronizes them.

        Use the following procedure to exclude data:
        1. Navigate to Start > Run , enter Regedit , and click OK .

          Important: Always create a backup before modifying the registry.
        2. Browse to:

        3. Create a new multi-string value (Exclusion) and add to it all the folders and files that should be excluded from the backup (press Enter after each excluded folder or file).

          Note: The recursive exclusion syntax for all files under a folder is: <FolderPath>\* /s .
          You may specify files directly without wildcards. See the Microsoft knowledge Base article linked below for the syntax for the various exclusion options. The best practice when working with registry long data values is to limit them to 300 characters so please create additional multi-string values to accommodate this.
      7. After the backup is complete, run the vCenter Server Heartbeat Configure Server wizard again.
      8. Select the Machine tab.
      9. Change Physical Hardware Identity to Primary .
      10. Click Finish .
    7. In the task bar, right click the vCenter Server Heartbeat icon and select Start vCenter Server Heartbeat .
    8. Log into the vCenter Server Heartbeat Console. Select the option to Stop replication but leave the Protected Application running .
    9. Set the vCenter Server Heartbeat service to Automatic using the Windows Service Control Manager.
    10. Move the new backup files to replace the original backup files originally created as part of the installation of the Primary.
  3. On the Secondary node:
    1. Run Setup.exe again from the software distribution kit.
    2. Restart the system after the Setup and the Restore successfully completes. The desktop icon normally used to continue the installation will not be created because the backup was not taken as part of the installation on the Primary node. Instead, run the following command

      C:\Neverfail\R2\bin\setup -secondaryInstall
    3. Manually reconfigure the IP addresses.

Applies To

vCenter Server Heartbeat All Versions

Related Information

Microsoft Support Article — System State backup using Windows Server Backup fails with error: System writer is not found in the backup

ATTACHMENT: FixSysWriter.bat


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