Windows Backup Fails – Error Code: 2155347997

Event ID 8228: Fail to parse XML file

Event ID 8193: Volume Shadow Copy Service error: Unexpected error calling routine CreateVssExamineWriterMetadata.  hr = 0x80042311, The given XML document is invalid.  It is either incorrectly-formed XML or it does not match the schema.

We recently ran into an issue with Microsoft Server Backup in Server 2008 R2 in which the backup utility would fail outright after starting. The Server Backup application didn’t really provide very much information regarding what was wrong. The status gave us an error when double-clicking on the failed status inside Server Backup:

Windows Server 2008 R2 - Backup Status

Windows Server 2008 R2 – Backup Status

The status says: Failed. The operation was stopped. The system writer is missing.

Googling this issue will lead you on a wild goose chase around what could be the problem and the steps in place to fix it. These steps have more or less to do with an article which was posted on technet here: https://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/windowsserver/en-US/b5236028-4bfe-400c-90e2-b6d40b08e776/windows-2008-server-system-writer-is-missing

In the article it explains that the System Writer (one of the services used by Windows to replace system files) requires various different access levels to certain system files. It goes on to document which files these are and what needs to be changed.

Performing these tasks did not work for us and we were left to find another solution. Doing some more digging, we started looking more into the Event Viewer at the initial error we got.

Event Viewer - Event ID 8228

Event Viewer – Event ID 8228

“Fail to parse XML file.” Researching this error will lead you back to the System Writer message discussed earlier. However, looking more into the error message we can find something that sticks out like a sore thumb:

Event Viewer - Event ID 8228 - Invalid String

Event Viewer – Event ID 8228 – Invalid String

There seems to be a file inside the OracleOra11g named “bin gntsrvc.exe” that contains a bullet character. This character may be the reason why the Server Backup is failing as it is unable to parse these type of characters.

Looking through the file system, we were unable to find any file resembling the name in the Event Viewer. We then went to the registry and was able to find the exact string by looking up “gntsrvc.exe.”

Turns out we had an installed service with a binary file that was no longer used, and was either not installed properly or not removed properly at some point in the past.  Since this service was not used, we manually removed it from the system.

Invalid String in Registry

Invalid String in Registry

Launching the Server Backup again, the process completed successfully this time. Looking at the command “vssadmin list writers,” we can see that the System Writer has returned to the list.

vssadmin list writers

vssadmin list writers

We suspect that perhaps this file (agntsrvc.exe) may have gotten corrupted during a previous backup and resulted in the System Writer failing for not knowing exactly what this file is.

When your Server Backup fails with a Parse XML error, it may be wise to investigate the Event Viewer thoroughly to see if any information during the event looks suspicious. There were a few “VSS” error events during the backup failure that showed up in Event Viewer, so there is a lot of information that can be collected during an incident like this.