How to enable the Exchange VSS writer


When you back up an Exchange Server using VSS, the Exchange VSS writer will work to improve the shadow copy and make it application consistent. If the Exchange VSS writer is not enabled, you will not have an application consistent shadow copy, and your backup job may encounter errors.

  • The Exchange VSS writer has to be manually enabled for Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007.
  • This should be done before running a VSS backup of your Exchange Server using BackupAssist.
  • You can check if the Exchange VSS writer service is running by opening a command prompt and typing “vssadmin list writers”.

Enabling the VSS writer requires manual changes to the registry. Before you modify the registry, make sure you back it up and that you understand how to restore the registry if a problem occurs.

Microsoft warning about the use of the registry editor: If you use Registry Editor incorrectly, you may cause serious problems that may require you to re-install your operating system. Microsoft cannot guarantee that you can solve problems that result from using Registry Editor incorrectly. Use Registry Editor at your own risk.

To Enable the Exchange VSS writer, follow these steps:

    1. Log onto your Exchange Server
    2. Select Start > Run
    3. Type regedit into the Open field
    4. Select OK

This will open the Registry editor. You can locate items in the registry by using the search and browse functions.

  1. Locate and open the registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\MSExchangeIS\ParametersSystem
  2. Look for the Disable Exchange Writer value
  3. If this value has a DWORD of 1, then change it to 0
  4. Click OK
  5. Close the Registry Editor
  6. Select Start > Administrative Tools
  7. Select Services
  8. Stop and then start the Microsoft Exchange Information Store service

You can now backup your Exchange Server using its VSS writer.

For more information on backing up and restoring Exchange Servers and mailboxes, see our Exchange documentation page.

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