Windows 7 Forums
Welcome to Windows 7 Forums. Our forum is dedicated to helping you find support and solutions for any problems regarding your Windows 7 PC be it Dell, HP, Acer, Asus or a custom build. We also provide an extensive Windows 7 tutorial section that covers a wide range of tips and tricks.

Windows 7: Cannot backup my computer

29 Jun 2013   #1

windows 7
Cannot backup my computer

I finally bought a portable hard drive to use as my backup device. It's called a G drive slim.

The backup starts running, but then stops with th is error:

Backup failed while trying to read from a shadow copy on one of the volumes being backed up. Then goes on to say that it is and I/O error and the code is 0x81000037. I searched for solutions and tried a few things. No luck. Can someone please give me a solution? Please don't get too technical.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jun 2013   #2

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

What backup software are you trying to use? Windows Backup, or 3rd-party software? System Image, or a "data backup" of folders/files or the entire drive?

What is your configuration? What hard drives and partitions? How much free space do you have on each drive/partition? Has the external drive been formatted to NTFS, or is it FAT32? Should be NTFS.

You might give Macrium Reflect a try. Easy to use, 100% reliable, actively vendor-supported, universally highly praised (by many Forum members, including myself).

They have a FREE version (with somewhat lesser functionality, although it does suffice for a perfect "system image" backup/restore capability) and also several non-free versions for personal and business use. I myself use the "standard" (non-free) version because I want "automatic space management" (to delete older generations) from my normal regularly scheduled weekly/biweekly system image backups.

Macrium Reflect also has "data" backup capability, for convenient folder/file backup restore. Support for standard full and incremental/differential as you'd expect. Good technique when using a large external USB drive as your backup repository is say monthly FULL and daily INCREMENTAL, with automatic space management giving you the type of backup/recovery you require, say 3-6 months if space permits (although that may be overkill for your particular needs).

Anyway, a bit more description of your system environment that you're trying to backup, and how you're trying to back it up (i.e. using what sofware, and what parameters for the backup job, etc.) would be helpful to us.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jun 2013   #3

windows 7

Well, I don't know most of that means. I bought a drive with more than enough room for everything. I plugged in it and have been attempting to using the application in my computer using Windows 7. I did not format the new drive. It's supposed to be ready to go. Wouldn't I get a message that it needed to be formatted? I did not see any questions when I started the backup about how much of my system to backup so I think it must be everything. When my computer was new and there wasn't much to back up I was using a thumb drive. I never had any problems getting it backed up with this method, but now it's too small. I'm not getting a message that it can't run or that I don't have enough room, only about reading the shadow copy.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Jun 2013   #4

Windows 7 Pro x64 (1), Win7 Pro X64 (2)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by linda661 View Post
Well, I don't know most of that means.
Let's see if we can quickly get you up to speed.

(1) a "drive" is a physical device, most commonly a "spinner" (i.e. hard drive with platters that rotate and read/write arm mechanism that moves over the platters). Alternatively it can be a "solid state device (SSD)" which is like a digital flash card for your camera, but designed to be used as a hard drive and replace a "spinner". You can add additional physical drives to your machine, depending on chassis capacity and construction.

(2) drives (spinners or SSD) can be logically sub-divided into one or more "partitions". Each partition is assigned a drive letter by the operating system. Normally a 1-partition drive corresponds to your "C-partition" on which the operating system and user data will reside. But you can further sub-divide a large drive into multiple smaller partitions (each of which would then be lettered as C, D, E, etc.) and take your own control about what data goes to what partition/letter, based on how you'd like to organize things on your machine. The operating system will remain on the primary/first partition... i.e. C.

(3) If you have multiple drives in your machine, each one can be optionally logically sub-divided into partitions, and the OS will simply continue to assign drive letters to each one. You can manually overrule what Windows wants to do by using the DISKMGMT.MSC program (that is what you would "run", just like any other program) which is the Windows Disk Management utility. You can change partition letters if you want, re-size and create partitions, etc. There are other more capable and easy to use 3rd-party products (both free and non-free) very similar to DISKMGMT.MSC, such as Partition Wizard which is probably the most highly regarded such product, and I highly recommend it for this purpose.

(4) If you create a partition, there are two types you can choose from: (a) logical, and (b) primary. There are a maximum number of four primary partitions you can create on each physical drive. That's just a hard limit to the design of drives. If you want, one of the [up to max of four] primary partitions on a drive can further be sub-divided internally, into one or more logical partitions. Every primary and logical partition is assigned its own drive letter by Windows. So if you do want to use one of the primary partitions to support logical partitions, you can have a maximum of three primary partitions with drive letters, and then one or more logical partitions (inside the fourth primary partition which has no letter) also with drive letters. Practically speaking there is no limit to the number of logical partitions you can sub-divide that primary partition into, so your drive letters can go from C, D, E, ..., X, Y, Z (and maybe also B and A as well, but these are almost never needed or used).

(5) A "system image" is a complete physical copy of a partition, written to a secondary location using available space on some other partition either on an internal or external drive. The software you use to produce that "system image" determines what the copy looks like (it can be a single file, or it might be a folder/file structure, etc.) but the essence of that copy is that is a complete DUPLICATE of the contents of the source partition you are "imaging". If necessary, the same software used to take the copy can also be used to restore the "system image" copy from the backup location right over the original source partition. The results of the restore will be an exact duplicate of everything that existed on the partition when the original "system image" was taken. This process can also be used to accomplish hardware upgrades (e.g. if you buy a larger hard drive and want to transfer the contents of the one or more partitions of your existing hard drive to the newer larger drive), involving appropriate one or more "system image" backups to an external drive, swapping out the old internal drive and swapping in the new one, partitioning the new drive as appropriate, and then restoring each "system image" to the new target partition on your newly partitioned larger hard drive.

(6) Before any partition can be usable, it must first be FORMAT'ed with a "file system". There are a variety of possible file system formats that a partition can be formatted with, but for Windows and large partitions the most efficient and reliable file system is NTFS. This is a file system unique to Windows and is not appropriate for Apple environments. Alternatively, other file systems (which are compatible with Apple environments) include FAT32 and FAT. Each file system has its own pros and cons and limitations or not, and depending on the device you bought you will probably find that it is pre-formatted at the factory to probably FAT32 since that provides the widest compatibility for use by potential buyers. But you can always re-FORMAT each partition to whatever you want, including having different file systems for individual partitions on the same drive. But for Windows backups, especially when using large source and target partitions, it is strongly recommended you should absolutely first FORMAT your target partition to NTFS. Windows can do that FORMAT function (including using DISKMGMT.MSC to do it), Partition Wizard can do that FORMAT function, etc. I would guess that your G Drive Spin came formatted as FAT32... which will "work", but will not provide the same performance as NTFS will.

(7) In contrast to a "system image" backup, there is another type of conceptual backup which I refer to as "data". This is where the individual folders and files on a partition are specifically selected for backup, same as you might select the folders/files that go into a ZIP file if you want to package up a lot of data in a compressed single file that's easy to store, transfer, and email around. A "data" backup is very much like that ZIP file. And the advantage of such a "data" backup is that you can very conveniently selectively recover individual folders/files from the backup itself, without having to restore everything. You might think of a "data" backup as a logical backup supporting selective recovery, whereas a "system image" backup is a physical backup that generally does not provide selective recovery.

(8) Backups can further be described as "full" or "incremental" or "differential". Conceptually, FULL means "backup everything, no matter what its characteristics are". EVERYTHING. In contrast, INCREMENTAL and DIFFERENTIAL describe backups that are normally something less than FULL, with specific criteria defining what gets selected for backup in the INCREMENTAL or DIFFERENTIAL backup. But the notion of INCREMENTAL or DIFFERENTIAL depends on the notion of a latest FULL backup having been taken as of some point in time (say each 1st of the month), and then INCREMENTAL or DIFFERENTIAL backups following subsequently (say daily on the 2nd - 31st of each month). And each entire month you have this repeating sequence, of monthly FULL and then daily INCREMENTAL/DIFFERENTIAL throughout the month.

(9) INCREMENTAL backups (say run daily) are defined to backup only those folder/files that were created or changed since the last time they were backed up... either by (a) the preceding FULL backup or (b) by any intervening INCREMENTAL backup which might have backed it up on some day following that last FULL backup. So on each day that something gets created or changed, it gets backed up on that night's INCREMENTAL backup. It's always backed up on the 1st of the month in the FULL backup no matter whether it's been changed recently or not. And it's only backed up on some intermediate nightly INCREMENTAL backup if it's been created/changed on that day. If the folder/file never changes throughout the entire month it will only appear on the monthly FULL backup, and on no INCREMENTAL backup during the month. Generally speaking, INCREMENTAL backups or relatively small, as they only reflect folders/files created/changed that day. Once backed up on some INCREMENTAL backup during the month, a folder/file will not be backed up again later in the month unless it again changes later in the month.

(10) DIFFERENTIAL backups are "cumulative", but also depend on a previous most recent FULL backup. DIFFERENTIAL backups are defined to backup only those folders/files that were created or changed since the last FULL backup. So each time you run a DIFFERENTIAL backup you will back up everything that's been created or changed at any time this month, at sometime after the most recent FULL backup was taken. So once a folder/file gets created/changed during the month, it will then be repeatedly backed up on each and every subsequent DIFFERENTIAL backup for the rest of the month. Yes, generally speaking DIFFERENTIAL backups thus get larger and larger in size as the month goes on, because they pick up the cumulative total of all folder/files created on any and all previous days of the month.

(11) Obviously selective recovery of a folder/file from a set of "data" backups (i.e. FULL + one or more INCREMENTAL/DIFFERENTIAL backups) depends on which "scheme" you've been using, and which particular backup contains the folders/files you want to recover. Good backup/restore software makes it transparent to you which particular individual backup file contains what you're wanting to recover, but rather utilizes a "catalog" of everything that's been backed up in your collection of FULL + INCREMENTAL/DIFFERENTIAL backups to automatically figure out where to get what you want from.

(12) What's most important here is (a) to use very capable and reliable 3rd-party backup/restore software (e.g. Macrium Reflect, NovaBackup, etc.), and (b) to establish a regimen of proper backups of both "system image" and "data", to properly guard everything you have that is important to protect against loss. In my case, I take weekly "system image" backups with Macrium Reflect of my C-partition which is where Windows lives. This guarantees reasonably current (and semi-instant) recovery of the operating system in case of corruption or disaster. I also take monthly FULL "data" backups with NovaBackup, followed by daily INCREMENTAL "data" backups with NovaBackup.

(13) I used to use tape for my "data" backups, but the process was slow and fairly inconvenient. Now I use a 2TB external USB 3.0 drive. But it is also kind of wise to consider what would happen if you lost the backup drive, and had no other alternative failsafe secondary backup medium from which to recover. Would you cry if you lost everything, including your backups? If so, you should devise a more sophisticated backup scheme that produces secondary (possibly offsite location) backup media so that you will NEVER lose any of your priceless irreplaceable data.

I know... did you really ask for that??

I bought a drive with more than enough room for everything. I plugged in it and have been attempting to using the application in my computer using Windows 7.
Well, it's a 500GB drive. So it's probably came factory pre-formatted as FAT32. But you can certainly just run DISKMGMT.MSC to see for yourself what its format is.

As I said above, FAT32 will "work" but doesn't have the same reliability or performance as NTFS. FAT32 is much more prone to lost data in the file system in the event of power outages or improper removal of the USB cable without first doing the proper "safely remove hardware" steps. NTFS is not vulnerable in this way, although the same "safely remove hardware" is still MANDATORY for any removable device that has been specified as using "write cache" (for performance)... which is the default for removable drives like this. This is obviously a CRITICAL UNDERSTANDING when handling your critically important backup drive. Wouldn't want to corrupt things on this drive, and lose your backups.

But you haven't mentioned what "the application in my computer" it is that you are using to do "your backup"? Is this Windows Backup? System Image? What?

I did not format the new drive. It's supposed to be ready to go.
Probably was FAT32.

Wouldn't I get a message that it needed to be formatted? I did not see any questions when I started the backup about how much of my system to backup so I think it must be everything.
You're right. But FAT32 would "work", although in my mind not be optimal. You really should FORMAT it to NTFS if it's currently FAT32.

When my computer was new and there wasn't much to back up I was using a thumb drive. I never had any problems getting it backed up with this method, but now it's too small.
Please describe exactly what you did to "get it backed up to a thumb drive", that you're now trying to use the same method presumably but to a larger external 500GB drive.

I'm not getting a message that it can't run or that I don't have enough room, only about reading the shadow copy.
"Shadow copies" (i.e. VSS) is an operating system facility that allow the backup (both "system image" and "data") to occur for files that are currently open and that otherwise would not be accessible to the backup process.

There needs to be a certain amount of free space on the source partition going into the backup, onto which to take that VSS "shadow copy". But normally, if inadequate free space exists, VSS will simply not be invoked and then your backup will not reflect certain currently open files... and you'll probably get error messages from the backup software to this effect.

But I don't know what 3rd-party software or Windows programs you're running to accomplish the "backup", and I don't know if you have additional partitions beyond C that you're trying to back up, etc.

Please provide some more details of your machine, its drives/partitions, what backup software or program you're using, what kind of backup you're doing (i.e. any parameters, etc.), and anything else that might provide some clue as to what the I/O error is, since it might be a logical error or a physical error (I guess potentially it could be a bad spot on your hard drive... but seems unlikely). There certainly are HD Scan utilities that can perform analysis of your hard drive to see if there is actually a hardware I/O error somewhere.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Jun 2013   #5
Mark Phelps

Win7 Pro 32-bit, Win8 Pro 32-bit

When I started using Macrium Reflect (years ago), I would run across this VSS error. Back then, MR provided a downloadable utility you could run to fix the problem. But, I haven't seen that in over 5 years.

If you're using a third-party backup/recovery app and it's that old, you may be encountering the same VSS problem.

I would recommend, in that case, of switching either to the Win7 builti-in utility, or changing over to using the current version of the backup app.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
30 Jun 2013   #6

windows 7

Thanks to everyone for taking so much time to school me. I'm sorry that I wasn't very helpful, but I am older and tired and I find that I can't learn new things easily these days.

I download another backup program AOMEI Backupper. It has run a backup of my computer with no errors. Of course I won't really know what I got until I need to restore...hahaha. I'm hoping for the best.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Cannot backup my computer

Thread Tools

Similar help and support threads
Thread Forum
Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
How to Create a System Image Backup in Windows 7 A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. A system image would include all NTFS formatted partitions with an operating system installed on it (ex: C ), as well as the...
Backup computer then restore on another computer
Is it possible to back up everything on my computer with an external hard drive and then restore that backup on another computer? I have crucial programs that i want to be in the backup and I need to make sure that I can use them when I restore on another computer. Any help is appreciated!
Backup and Restore
New computer won't restore using backup from old computer
Before I switched computers, I made a backup of all my files. Then I swapped the hard drive into the new computer and put on a new copy of Windows x64. Previously, I was using 32 bit, so I'm not sure if that's influencing my ability to load the backup file. When I click the backup file, it opens a...
Backup and Restore
Can't backup my computer
(Mods, please move this thread if it is the wrong section) Whenever I try to back my computer with Windows Backup, I keep getting this error message :mad: I'm trying to back it up to my new WD My Book Essential 1 GB WDBAAF0010HBK. I installed the latest firmware for the drive, but I did not...
Backup and Restore
Computer Backup
Ok I got a question about computer back up theirs a backup thats in the system tray it says it can back up files onto the computer, if the computer crashes I don't understand how that works. Also got a Acer computer Acer backup pops up I click on it it says you need like 3 disc to back up. So...
Backup and Restore

Our Sites

Site Links

About Us

Find Us

Windows 7 Forums is an independent web site and has not been authorized, sponsored, or otherwise approved by Microsoft Corporation. "Windows 7" and related materials are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

Designer Media Ltd

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 16:34.
Twitter Facebook Google+