How to Fix "The Location for Backup Is a Critical Volume"?

Posted by @Cody

July 28, 2015

Solutions to fix the error: The location for backup is a critical volume, received while starting system state backup.

The Scenario

While you try to write system state backup to a critical volume (which is the volume that the state file are stored on, usually C: drive) on a Server running Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012, you will receive the following error:

  • "The location for backup is a critical volume." In Windows Server 2008
  • "The backup storage location is invalid. You cannot use a volume that is included in the backup as a storage location." In Windows Server 2008 R2
  • "You cannot use a volume that is included in the backup as a storage location." In Windows Server 2012

Backup Error

The Cause

By default, Windows Server 2008 or latter version of Windows Server does not allow to backup system state to critical volumes. Windows Server 2003 does not have this restriction to backup to critical volume.

The Solution

There are three ways to work this around.

1. Backup system state to another location instead of the partition that is included in the backup.

2. Change Registry subkey to allow you to write system state backup to a critical volume. Note that modifying the registry incorrectly may cause serious problems so that you need to reinstall Windows. You would better backup the registry before changing it. Windows only allows you to separately backup one Registry subkey at a time. Therefore, to backup system is highly recommended to replace it . The steps of lifting the restriction for targeting the system state backup to any volume:

2.1. Clicking the Start button, type “regedit” into the search box and then press Enter to launch the Registry.‌

2.2. Locate the following registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\wbengine\SystemStateBackup\

2.3. Change the value as below:

Name: AllowSSBToAnyVolume

Data type: DWORD

Value data: 1 (“0” - Don't Allow, “1” – Allow If you want to go back the default setting, you can just switch from “1” to “0”)

2.4. Now, you have allowed to backup system state to any volumes, and you can start a system state backup by using the following command at a command prompt:

Wbadmin start systemstatebackup -backupTarget:<VolumeName> [-quiet]

3. Use third party backup tool to backup system state in Server 2008. AOMEI Backupper Server, Windows Server backup software, allows you to backup to not only critical volumes but also any folders that are accessible in Windows File Explorer, including Share/NAS location. Hence, you would never worry about the error that the location for backup is a critical volume. Backupper provides main types of backup, file backup, system backup, partition backup, disk backup, and file sync. What’s more, you can also perform these backups using command line. Besides backup, the restore feature of Backupper is also extraordinary as it enables you to perform dissimilar (universal) restore even if your Server is unbootable. Now, you can download the thirty-day trial version of this server backup software.