Skip to main content
Barracuda MSP Partner Toolkit

Exit Code -3 Failure



A System State backup fails to back up successfully and presents the following error message:


WBAdmin process failed with exit code -3, arguments: start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:<X:> -quiet


This error will most likely occur each time you try to run the backup.




The "exit code -3" error is fairly generic.  As such, it is recommended you run through the steps in System State Troubleshooting to see if you can fix the problem first.  What follow are a handful of issues identified which go beyond the steps in the aforementioned article.


Scratch Drive Formatted With 4K Sectors


The system state backup files Windows Server Backup produces include a virtual hard disk file.  For operating systems older than Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012, that virtual hard disk file will be of the (.vhd) variety.  This format is incompatible with hard drives formatted with 4K sectors (more info here).  For Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, and newer, the virtual hard disk file using the (.vhdx) format which does work with 4K sector drives.


This issue may present in Event Viewer or the Windows Server Backup logs as:


One of the backup files could not be created. Detailed Error: The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.


Event ID: 517

Backup started at ___ failed with following error code '2155348010' (One of the backup files could not be created.). Please rerun backup once issue is resolved.


To resolve this, change the scratch drive to one which is formatted with 512 byte sectors or reformat the existing scratch drive.


System Writer Not Found


Since Microsoft's VSS is used to create the shadow copy used in the system state backup, if one or more of the VSS writers is not working correctly, the backup will fail.  One of the more common forms of this problem is seen as the following events:


Event ID: 517

Backup started at ___ failed with following error code '2155348226' (System writer is not found in the backup.). Please rerun backup once issue is resolved.


Event ID: 513

Cryptographic Services failed while processing the OnIdentity() call in the System Writer Object.


This issue can be resolved using this Microsoft article.


SharePoint Foundation 2010 SP1 Problem


If you upgrade SharePoint Foundation 2010 to Service Pack 1, you may get the follow events when trying to run a system state backup:


Event ID: 70

The mount operation for the gatherer application 37ad8233-57f1-47b1-873e-6a91d0f1bc36 has failed because the schema version of the search administration database is less than the minimum backwards compatibility schema version supported for this gatherer application. The database might not have been upgraded.


Event ID: 521

The backup operation that started at ___ has failed because the Volume Shadow Copy Service operation to create a shadow copy of the volumes being backed up failed with following error code ‘2155348129’. Please review the event details for a solution, and then rerun the backup operation once the issue is resolved.


This problem is caused by an incomplete upgrade of SharePoint and can be fixed using the following resource.

  • Was this article helpful?