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Windows 7 Backup Fails with Erroneous "Insufficient Space" Message and Error Code 0x81000033

    Question

  • It seems that after my recent post moaning about Windows Backup it has decided to get it's own back and now refuses to run with an unhelpful, incorrect (and ungrammatical) error message!

    When tried to run my Backup (complete system image and selected User Data folders) it failed.

    The additional information pop-up box stated the following (in semi-English):

    "Windows Backup skipped backing up system image because one of the critical volumes is not having enough free space. Free up some space by deleting unnecessary files and try again.

    Error code: 0x81000033"

     

    Note that the Windows Backup pane has the following information clearly displayed at the same time:

    "Location: Backup_1 (G:)
    71.52 GB free of 232.88 GB
    Backup size 10.98 GB"

    So Windows Backup thinks it has 71GB space free ... and it tells me there isn't enough space. That's helpful.

    It doesn't even tell me which "critical volume" needs more space (in fact now I know that space is not the problem).

    A search for the error code reveals no information.

    The event log has no further information.

     

    It fails after it creates the folder <ComputerName> (ie. the UserData part of the backup) on drive G:

    This contains about 10.5GB of new data so it has (nearly?) completed the backup of User Data.

    The User Data Backup contains files and folders from the C: partition as well as the E: partition.

    So this isn't a problem of the either source or destination drives being inaccessible or unwritable.

     

    From previous backup I know the User Data part (<ComputerName>) will be about 11GB.

    And the System part ("WindowsImageBackup") will be about 20GB.

    So why does seem to think it doesn't have enough space when there is 71.5GB free on the Backup Volume?

     

    All volumes on the PC have spare capacity, even those which are not being backed-up, or are not involved in the backup.

    C: - 11GB free         (and 18.5 GB used)     - C:/D:/E: are partitions of the main hard drive (RAID)

    D: - 33GB free         (temporarily empty)

    E: - 318GB free        (about 11GB of data in folders selected for backup, other archives managed seperately)

    (F: is optical media)

    G: - 85GB free initially (150GB used)        - backup destination                - this is a physcally different hard drive

    H: - 10GB free        (not relevant to the Backup used for online archival)  - this is another physcally different hard drive

     

    Backup is set up to write data from C: and E: to G:

    I have checked drive G: for errors and chkdsk reports that it is all OK. There are no other error messages.

    The system Event Log has identical text to the message I get from Windows Backup, so it provides no useful information.

     

    So what is Backup trying to do?

    And why doesn't it produce any useful information?

     

    ............. Additional Information Updated 7/7/11 .................

     

    The Volume Shadow Copy service is complaining that there is not enough space, somewhere, on some drive, without providing any more information.

    So I made certain that there is sufficient space on each possible volume (also those volumes which are not involved).

    a) I resized C: so that it had 60% free space in case Shadow Copy Service is trying to fill the C: drive with a copy of all the system.

    b) I resized the System Reserved volume to 50% free space in case Shadow Copy is messing with this.

    c) I cleared 15GB space on drive H: (not relevant) in case Backup has a problem with nearly full drives.

    d) I used vssadmin to check Volume Shadow locations and re-set the limit for the Shadow Storage on C: to "unlimited" in case this was a problem.

    None of these made any difference.

     

    I conclude that the Shadow Copy Service is having a problem either accessing or writing to something, somewhere.

    The "not enough free space" message seems to be incorrect.

    I guess it should be a permisson / access error message.

     

    I cannot find any way to get further information about this.

    I hope there is some way to debug Shadow Copy by (options in service properties?) but can find no help.

    How do I debug this?

     

    Some questions for the people who developed Windows Backup to consider:

    1) Why is Backup (or Shadow Copy) not capable of indicating where the problem lies?

    2) Why is there no further information in the System Event logs.

    3) Why is Backup not capable of directing the temporary Shadow Copies to another drive if necessaary.

    (Or to the memory - there is a system managed Pagefile on drive E: which could expanded to 300GB.)

    4) I have found documentation explaining how to re-direct the volume shadow copies to another drive - in Windows 2008 Server.

      How do I do the same with Windows 7?

    5) How can it possibly fail to backup the System Image of C: when it can perform a User Data backup which includes data from the C: partition? 





    • Edited by anothersteve Friday, July 08, 2011 9:16 PM Added note to emphasise that it can back up User Data from C: though the System Image Backup of C: fails
    Sunday, June 26, 2011 1:35 AM

All replies

  • I had the same problem and nothing that I did fixed the problem.  I followed all of Microsoft's fixes to no avail.  Luckily I found a website that had the exact fix, links to the free software you will need and detailed insruction (including screen shots).  I followed the insructions and now my backup works flawlessly.  The link to the website is below.  Good luck!

    http://www.pagestart.com/win7br0x8100003301.html

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011 5:49 AM
  • Thank you for your helpful response. It seems like it is on the right track, but probably isn't the solution to my problem.

     

    Firstly for anyone else who may read this thread I'll summarise the link:

    The article explains that one of the causes of this error message can be insufficient space on the System Reserved Partition(!)

    Yes - Windows 7 Backup is so stupid that it apparently uses space on the smallest possible available partition (System Reserved).

     

    This article explains how to use a Partition Management tool to resize the System Reserved Partition (there is apparenly no way to "clean up" the reserved partititon - it is suggested that Filesystem Journalling may be one cause).

     

    I've not tried this fix but it seems to be one plausible explanation.

    How come Microsoft could not tell me this?

    Don't they know how their own backup works?

     

    I must point out that if you try this fix you should first familiarise yourself with how Windows 7 Boots, and learn how to use the appropriate tools which are necessary to fix a broken Windows 7 boot.

    Moving the "C:" partition (to create the necessary space) is very likely to result in an un-bootable machine unless you know how to fix or update the "Boot Configuration Database".

    Also (as noted in the article) you will first need to obtain a third-party backup / disaster recovery solution so that you can make a backup before you start playing around with the partitions.

     

    Notes:

    1) This cannot be the cause of my problem as I still have the default 70% of my System Reserved Partition free (unless Windows 7 backup is so pathetic that it can fall over even with the standard 70MB free space to play with).

    2) Once you have obtained a third-party backup solution what's the point using Windows 7 Backup anyway?

     

    My "solution" has been to install Symantec (Norton) Ghost

     

    Quick review of Ghost:

    I used it with XP and liked the fact that it permitted me to copy complete partitions (handy when re-building PCs - and completely impossible with Windows Backup).

     I needed it for a laptop anyway and was lucky to find a good 3PC deal (otherwise it's expensive for what it is).

    The latest version of Ghost seems to be aimed at "no-brain" users and is worryingly set on a course to converge with Windows Backup which means it is in grave danger of becoming a lemon .....

    Scheduling is clunky (the start of a new backup set does not synchronise with the selected backup schedule!).

    Symantec have even added a completely unnecessary "File and Folder" backup like Windows. But it is impossible to cleanly delete one once it has been made. I tried and it filled "C:\....\admin\local\temp" with files, fell over and left a "history" entry which is now completely impossible to delete and will remain stuck there in the status window for eternity.

    However the old Ghost Partition Backup DOES still work and that's all anyone needs.

    Note: you can browse the Partition backup to recover individual files, so who needs "File and Folder" backup anyway?

    Also Ghost still permits drive / partition moves so it will come in handy when I next upgrade - though it does not update Microsofts silly boot configuration database - so I will still probably have to use the BCD editing tools.

     

    Conclusion:

    Ghost works on my PC.

    As far as I can see Ghost uses the same standard Microsoft Shadow Copy Service.

    Windows Backup meanwhile remains dead in the water.

    So presumably its just a matter of using some "sensible" setting?

    If Windows Backup could be forced to use the right Shadow Copy settings (whatever they may be) it would also work.


    I also saw an article which mentioned editing the registry (back to the bad old days of XP!!) to "reset" Windows Backup after a failure, in order to get it to work again.

    Apparently once it fails it gets stuck ..... doh

     

    To be honest I no longer care.

    Windows Backup is clearly a piece of "beta" software and even Microsoft don't understand how it works or they would know what their own error codes mean.

     

    Now I'm in the process of switching to Ubuntu linux and will run my legacy Windows apps using WINE.

    I already use Firefox / OpenOffice. I tried booting from a CD and it supports both my RAIDs natively.

    It seems that Linux WINE supports more of my old Windows XP legacy stuff than Windows 7 did anyway.

     

    The Windows 7 XP Virtual Machine is a failure for several reasons. For example it's impossible to relocate, it's impossible to share the XP machine between users, every Windows 7 user becomes an administrator in the XP VM environment, it communicates with the host using a "hidden" and undocumented remote desktop connection....

     

    It seems that this stupid Windows Backup problem has forced me to migrate to a better solution anyway.

    So maybe I should be happy?

     

     

    Monday, September 05, 2011 10:15 AM
  • Windows Backup is clearly a piece of "beta" software and even Microsoft don't understand how it works or they would know what their own error codes mean.


    Kinda, it's more that the codes themselves are vague and VSS is annoying. For example, and a suggestion, I got error 0x80780119 "volume shadow copy doesn't have enough space to create the backup" even though it did, system reserved did, etc.

    The ridiculous solution was to remove some language packs, as apparently having too many causes that and similar errors.

     

    Thursday, September 15, 2011 1:55 PM
  • The ridiculous solution was to remove some language packs, as apparently having too many causes that and similar errors.


    Sounds so absurd that it must be true........

    Unfortunately it can't be the cause of my particular problem as I removed as many unnecessary languages as I could when I installed the machine.

    Unless maybe it also has a problem when there are too few language packs installed!

    It also really annoys me that Windows 7 "Action Centre" reports the status of installed third-party Anti-Virus and Firewall software, but doesn't understand third-party Backup Software like Ghost.

    So despite doing regular backups with Ghost the only thing which Windows tells me is that Windows Backup is out of date.

    And all I can do is tell it to turn-off the message - until I next do a disk/system cleanup at which time the message gets reset.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011 3:35 PM
  • This problem is due to a hidden system partition that your windows is trying to back up alongside, as it is part of the boot sequence (I'm speculating here, trying to find a reason)
    Anyway, here is the solution
    You can relieve this volume by going to cmd (type cmd in the search box in the start menu)
    enter the following line in the cmd.exe window:
    bcdboot c:\windows /s c:
    this way windows won't force you to back it up
    You should be good to go
    Saturday, December 17, 2011 3:52 AM
  • As I mentioned above this can't really be my problem as my system reserved partition is pretty much in it's default state with 70% free space (as when it's first installed).

    I haven't made any boot changes, so the bcd data should be default too.

    It's inexcusable that Backup seems to be using the system reserved partition for any data storage at all .....

    and it's criminal that the error message does not indicate where the problem lies (eg. if it's trying to open a log file it should say so, if it's a temp folder it should say so and have an option to put it somewhere else etc....).

    Anyway I'd prefer to have the reserved partition backed up.

    So much for reliability and support - within 3 months of opening the Win 7 box Windows Backup was non-operational.

    Monday, December 19, 2011 2:30 PM
  • You just need to create a new partition on your HD to use specifically for backups. Go to Control Panel - System and Security - Create and format hard disk partitions. Once there right click on your drive and shrink volume by a few GB's to free up some space. Then right click on the empty partition and select create simple volume. You will be able to give it a new Drive letter (i.e. C, D, Etc) so when it is done change your backup settings to use that new drive letter and it should run for you.
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 12:18 PM
  • Try setting your system partition to "Active" with diskpart.

    Backup is probably fighting with wrong partition 100 mb where windows boot files are.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 3:11 PM
  • You just need to create a new partition on your HD to use specifically for backups. Go to Control Panel - System and Security - Create and format hard disk partitions. Once there right click on your drive and shrink volume by a few GB's to free up some space. Then right click on the empty partition and select create simple volume. You will be able to give it a new Drive letter (i.e. C, D, Etc) so when it is done change your backup settings to use that new drive letter and it should run for you.

    Mark,

    If you read my earlier posts you will see that I have loads of free space on the destination drive.

    Moving the backup destination is not really a fix for a problem when there is plenty of space free, is it?

    Maybe there's something wrong with Windows Backup and moving the backup destination will provide a temporary work-around.

    But whatever the problem is which caused this will not be fixed and the same problem will come back sooner or later.

    And what then? Make yet another partition?

    Note that due to the way Windows boots it is only possible to have three user partitions on any drive (four total).

    So this fix will only work two times.

    And I have already created drives c: d: and e: on this disk .....

     

    Tuesday, January 03, 2012 8:38 PM
  • This problem is due to a hidden system partition that your windows is trying to back up alongside, as it is part of the boot sequence (I'm speculating here, trying to find a reason)
    Anyway, here is the solution
    You can relieve this volume by going to cmd (type cmd in the search box in the start menu)
    enter the following line in the cmd.exe window:
    bcdboot c:\windows /s c:
    this way windows won't force you to back it up
    You should be good to go
    Tried this and got an error message....................."Failure when attempting to copy boot files" Microsoft should stop employing Primary School drop-outs as programmers. I tried to back up my Windows 7 64bit. The whole system disk is 298Gb and I have 10.7Gb free. When I try to back-up I choose my drive G: as the back-up drive. It is a 1TB drive with back-up files on it and has free space of 164Gb. Obviously Windows has ideas of grandeur since I get an error message telling me that the drive does not have enough space for an image file. Clicking "more details" brings up the message "You need at least 973Gb of free space for a Windows image file. Is this idiotic or what? Why would I need almost 1Tb to back up an image of a 298Gb drive? I wonder why I am using such a pathetic puerile piece of software.............read that as......over-expensive software?
    Saturday, January 07, 2012 4:42 AM
  • My internal hard drive is 1T and has a total used space of 278 G. I bought an external drive of 3T for backup. It has the space to hold 3 times of my entire internal drive (C:) but when I run the backup process I got the same error 

    Error code: 0x81000033

    I tried anything I found on the net, separated the HD into various partitions, shrank the partitions, extended the partitions, what so ever, I cannot get rid of this error!

    I just cannot believe it! How could MSFT provide such a lousy program!! Do any of you know any good program to run the backup?

    Thanks!



    • Edited by FindNoName Thursday, January 12, 2012 5:45 AM
    Thursday, January 12, 2012 5:42 AM
  • Sorry all, not an answer but just adding to the misery - 300GB on C: Drive attempting to backup onto 1TB internal HD.  Same error message - insufficient space.  Just echo your frustration that what should be a basic OS function does not work.  Can sense the frustration in all....MS...you out there?
    Tuesday, February 14, 2012 9:43 AM
  • With all of the Windows 7 updates and SP1, why hasn't this issue been resolved? It was a known problem right after Windows 7 first hit the market. I wonder why MS wouldn't fix something that allows users to restore their HDD. Apparently, giving users the ability to recover is not a priority. I would hope that the techs have the intelligence and ability to come up with a fix. I guess I'll use Open Source software for image creation. I've read a ton of the MS forums and they are full of this same discussion with no successful remedy short of extending the system reserve partition. I doubt the average user will be able to handle it.

    Sunday, February 26, 2012 10:28 PM
  • You could try to run the image backup from command line. Start cmd.exe as administrator:

    > wbadmin start backup -backupTarget:G: -include:C:

    You may include other volumes separated by comma (like \\?\Volume{xxxxxxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxxxxxxxxxx}\ for the boot partition), see wbadmin /? for more options.


    Monday, June 17, 2013 8:51 AM