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CrashPlan Support

Unable To Back Up Files (Windows)

Applies to:
  • CrashPlan for Home
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This article is intended for CrashPlan for Home users. For Code42 CrashPlan and CrashPlan PRO documentation, read this page on our enterprise support site.

Overview

When CrashPlan is unable to back up a file, the History tab displays the message "unable to back up n files." This most commonly occurs when CrashPlan is trying to back up a file that is open, encrypted, or lacking proper permissions. This article addresses how to identify which files are not backing up and how to resolve the issue.

Affects

CrashPlan app on Windows

Diagnosing

When CrashPlan is unable to back up a file, the History tab displays the message "Unable to backup n files" (where n is the number of files CrashPlan is unable to back up).

Unable to backup message

Identifying problem files

Follow these steps to identify the specific files that are not backing up:

  1. Open Windows Explorer and paste the following location into the address bar:
    • Windows Vista / 2008 / 7 / 8 / 10:
      • Installed for everyone: C:\ProgramData\CrashPlan\log
      • Installed per user: C:\Users\<username>\AppData\<Local or Roaming>\CrashPlan\log
    • Windows XP:
      • Installed for everyone: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\CrashPlan\log
      • Installed per user: Code42 does not support per-user installations of the CrashPlan app on Windows XP.
  2. Open the backup_files.log.0 file in a text editor (like Notepad)
    Most problem files can be found towards the end of the log file
  3. A file failing to back up is noted with a "W" at the start of the line:
    W 01/06/13 12:00PM 42  - C:\Users\John\Blackberry\Backup\BlackBerry Tour 9630-1.ipd
    

    A file backing up successfully is noted with an "I" at the start of the line:
    I 01/06/13 12:00PM 42 50cd0afdb853e65f1f47c31407ce9a4a 0 C:\Users\Jill\Documents\Outlook Files\outlook.pst (200483653) [1,0,200483653,0,0,0,0]
    

Recommended solutions

Once you've identified the problem files, review the information below to determine if the files fit into one of these categories. Additional troubleshooting information is provided for each category.

May be unable to back up
Unable to back up

System files

CrashPlan is designed to back up personal files (e.g., documents, photos, music, etc.). It is not designed to back up your operating system or applications. For additional information, see our guide about choosing what to back up.

Application files

By default, CrashPlan backs up your user folder, which contains the AppData folder for your computer. Certain files inside AppData can fail to back up with CrashPlan because they:

  • Are open and locked by the application that created them
  • Were not created with the correct permissions for CrashPlan to back them up

If the files that are failing to back up are located in the AppData folder, review our guidelines for backing up the AppData folder.

Open files and databases

While CrashPlan backs up open files by default, it does not have application-specific "hooks" to back up files that are always being written to (e.g., SQL databases, virtual machines, Act! databases, Outlook PST files, Exchange databases). To back up these files:

  1. Close the identified files and the applications using those files
  2. Open the CrashPlan app
  3. From Backup > Destinations click the round play icon Play button at the end of the progress bar to retry backing up the file
Backing Up Open Files and Databases
To increase the likelihood that CrashPlan can consistently back up and restore large open files (e.g., Exchange, Outlook, SQL databases, etc.), use application-specific tools to dump/export a snapshot of the internal state to a file. See Backing Up Open Files and Databases for additional details.

System permissions

Unless the CrashPlan app is installed per user (version 4.3 and later only), CrashPlan relies on the system user's read/write permissions to access your files. However, there are some files or directories the system user may not have permissions to access. If you need to back up these files or folders, follow our tutorial to add the system user to the permissions list.

Windows Encrypting File System

CrashPlan supports encrypted files, folders, and drives that run at a system level. However, it does not support backing up encrypted files that are configured to run in a user space. Windows EFS runs in a single user space, so backing up files encrypted with Windows EFS is not officially supported by CrashPlan. You can tell whether or not a file is encrypted with EFS by the green label in Windows Explorer.

Encrypted Folders

In order to back up files encrypted with EFS, you must run CrashPlan “as user” and set the proper permissions. However, this is an unsupported process. Alternatively, you can remove file encryption using the steps below:

  1. Right-click the encrypted file
  2. Select Properties
  3. From the General tab, select Advanced
  4. Deselect the option to Encrypt contents to secure data

For information on other types of file encryption with CrashPlan, see Backing Up Encrypted Data.

OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive)

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft introduced smart files to conserve local hard drive space. If you include your OneDrive folder in your backup selection, you may need to make your files available offline before they can be backed up. See Backing Up Microsoft OneDrive for more information.

VSS snapshots

When CrashPlan tries to access open files, the Windows Volume Shadow Service (VSS) pauses the application writing to the file and creates a snapshot of it. Sometimes these snapshots don’t get deleted after use. Since VSS limits the permissions on those snapshots, CrashPlan can't back them up. See Backing Up Open Files In Windows With VSS for additional details.

Here is an example VSS snapshot:

"\GLOBALROOT\Device\HarddiskVolumeShadowCopy12"

To clear VSS snapshots out of your system, do the following:

  1. Go to the Windows Start menu.
  2. Search for cmd.
  3. Right-click on cmd.exe select Run as Administrator.
  4. In the command prompt, enter this command:
    vssadmin delete shadows /all
  5. Press Enter.