DPM 2007: The Case of the Missing SQL VSS Writer

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 Good troubleshooting info for the public record and props to MSFT DPM newsgroup sentinels for some first rate troubleshooting.

The Mystery

We recently had an issue with the VSS Writer on an active/active SQL 2005 cluster with named SQL instances. From DPM 2007, we could not see one of the SQL instances in DPM to create protection groups, but the other was fine. We checked on the SQL VSS Writer this “invisible” instance. The VSS Writer Service was running. We ran repair repeatedly.

But when we ran the command to view the VSS Writers on the problem cluster node (vssadmin), the SQL VSS Writer was missing, as shown in the vssadmin output below. I’ve left the full output so if this problem affects you; you’ll have a full basis of comparison.

Notice there is no SQL Writer listed.

C:\>vssadmin list writers

Writer name: ‘System Writer’

   Writer Id: {e8132975-6f93-4464-a53e-1050253ae220}

   Writer Instance Id: {334c9f05-e7af-47d8-9df3-e106cce972d1}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘ASR Writer’

   Writer Id: {be000cbe-11fe-4426-9c58-531aa6355fc4}

   Writer Instance Id: {a45775e8-06c6-42a1-bcb0-0fd5d60461e1}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘Registry Writer’

   Writer Id: {afbab4a2-367d-4d15-a586-71dbb18f8485}

   Writer Instance Id: {162730bc-3156-4988-8e05-2bf1b69113fa}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘Shadow Copy Optimization Writer’

   Writer Id: {4dc3bdd4-ab48-4d07-adb0-3bee2926fd7f}

   Writer Instance Id: {4e87a717-b324-4d1c-b0d3-210c6b17fbe8}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘COM+ REGDB Writer’

   Writer Id: {542da469-d3e1-473c-9f4f-7847f01fc64f}

   Writer Instance Id: {24e28017-005e-456b-85ed-1a19ff8b5e70}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘BITS Writer’

   Writer Id: {4969d978-be47-48b0-b100-f328f07ac1e0}

   Writer Instance Id: {eef08dd7-b893-4e20-bd63-e9de70af874c}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘WMI Writer’

   Writer Id: {a6ad56c2-b509-4e6c-bb19-49d8f43532f0}

   Writer Instance Id: {3d19db5d-8be2-42d2-9beb-ec8bb73841c8}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

Writer name: ‘Cluster Database’

   Writer Id: {41e12264-35d8-479b-8e5c-9b23d1dad37e}

   Writer Instance Id: {bc8143f9-1c72-44aa-a32c-c9dd4db4edf8}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Calling in Reinforcements

After exhausting our efforts, we posted a question to the DPM newsgroups. A MSFT resource (Hitesh Sharma) responded with what at first glance seemed like the run-of-the-mill response with issues that didn’t apply to us.

Hitesh responded with the following….

There are few things we need to diagnose the problem where SQL Server writer
is not being listed:

1.    Does your SQL instance have databases with names ending in a space
character?
You will have to manually go through each database name to verify
this.

2.    This could be due to authentication issues. There is the KB article that
talks about “Problems when the writer tries to connect to SQL Server due to
authentication issues”. The link to the KB article:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/919023

We’ve been using this system for weeks and authentication is working just as we expect. And who would come up with a database name that has a space in it anyway?

But on second glance, we realized the answer to that question…”Some 3rd party utility that doesn’t let us choose the database name, that’s who! “

The Fix

We checked with the application vendor to determine if renaming the database was supported, then renamed the database to a new name (without a space in it) just a moment later. We restarted the SQL VSS Writer service and then re-ran vssadmin list writers

Here’s the full output on a health SQL cluster node…Notice the SQLServerWriter listed

Writer name: ‘ASR Writer’

   Writer Id: {be000cbe-11fe-4426-9c58-531aa6355fc4}

   Writer Instance Id: {0b89a29d-12a9-40bf-9220-f596955fed51}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘SqlServerWriter’

   Writer Id: {a65faa63-5ea8-4ebc-9dbd-a0c4db26912a}

   Writer Instance Id: {ceec6494-3f21-4a80-a62e-fa1d754343bc}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘Registry Writer’

   Writer Id: {afbab4a2-367d-4d15-a586-71dbb18f8485}

   Writer Instance Id: {a5740873-440d-4c7a-9323-0a13e4748f5b}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘Shadow Copy Optimization Writer’

   Writer Id: {4dc3bdd4-ab48-4d07-adb0-3bee2926fd7f}

   Writer Instance Id: {1d514548-e7d4-45c7-a05d-90e8d89abb28}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘COM+ REGDB Writer’

   Writer Id: {542da469-d3e1-473c-9f4f-7847f01fc64f}

   Writer Instance Id: {60a25bd4-27ea-4fd7-abd1-85390622f4d2}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘BITS Writer’

   Writer Id: {4969d978-be47-48b0-b100-f328f07ac1e0}

   Writer Instance Id: {92c2b5d5-f6bf-4cc3-94a3-27ef7e9cd945}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘WMI Writer’

   Writer Id: {a6ad56c2-b509-4e6c-bb19-49d8f43532f0}

   Writer Instance Id: {2381a795-c3bb-4b9f-bbaf-fed036a2e867}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Writer name: ‘Cluster Database’

   Writer Id: {41e12264-35d8-479b-8e5c-9b23d1dad37e}

   Writer Instance Id: {9ec29852-1569-4f5c-b9b9-3b11b2c7c1a6}

   State: [1] Stable

   Last error: No error

 

Conclusion

With the core issue (the database name with a space in it) resolved and the SQL VSS Writer present, we were able to create a protection group for the second node in the cluster.

 

Thanks again to Hitesh and his fellow MSFT DPM support engineers for their suggestions!

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