We have Exchange 2003 running on a Windows 2003 server. For some reason, the backup job (using NTBackup) usually fails to work by itself. If I right click on the job and run it, it works fine, the files are backed up and the transaction logs for Exchange are removed.

I have verified multiple times that the user the task is scheduled to run as has the appropriate permissions. I've even set it up to run as an administrative account to rule that out. It does not matter if the console is left logged on and locked or if it is logged out, the darn thing simply will not work.

I've created a batch file to try to capture what's going on which writes out to it's own log file and calls the ntbackup.exe with the job parameters. It shows that the process starts and that ntbackup runs returning an exit code of 0 (normally a success) however, nothing is backed up.

Now here's one more oddity. We had to reboot the server a few weeks ago for an update. After that reboot, the task would work as scheduled as long as the console was logged in! Last weekend we unfortunately had a couple of huge thunderstorms, one of which resulted in an extended power outage in which the server had to be shut down. Now it will not work as it should.

I cannot find anything in any log (event log, backup log) that indicates there is a problem. Is there any way to troubleshoot this?

[EDIT] Here are the parameters requested by Nick

ntbackup.exe backup "<path to the .bks" /n "<path to the .bkf>" /j "Nightly Backup" /v:yes /r:no /rs:no 
  • can you paste the parameters your using to run the task? – Nick Kavadias Aug 6 '09 at 15:22

Are you RDP'ing into the server & leaving sessions open/disconnected? ntbackup wont work if there are users rdp'ed in. console is ok, checkout this MS KB article

MS has no way of fixing this, you can side step the issue by changing the terminal services config to log users off that are idle, that way you minimise the chance of a logged in RDP session when the task kicks off. It's that or buy decent backup software :-)

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    +1 for this - I didn't know that! – Marko Carter Aug 6 '09 at 14:50
  • I did not know about this either; however I am using the console. We have the RDP policy set up to disconnect idle sessions after an hour and then reset them after another hour so I've been leaving the console logged in and locked. – palehorse Aug 6 '09 at 15:14
  • From what I'm seeing that article is talking about how NTBackup won't allow multiple instances of NTBackup.exe to run simultaneously. I'll test and see if NTBackup runs from a scheduled task while other users are logged-on but not otherwise running NTBackup. I suspect it'll run fine... – Evan Anderson Aug 6 '09 at 18:11
  • that's probably what it means. it's not clear. I do remember having this issue years ago when i had to set up a server where the business was to povo to buy proper software. IIRC the exit code on the task indicated some error. I setup the log off idle time stuff for RDP and it fixed the issue – Nick Kavadias Aug 7 '09 at 8:39
  • I am not 100% positive if this was the fix; however, I recreated the scheduled job after making sure there were no sessions and it's working again. The real question is, why was it working until after the reboot? We may never know. – palehorse Aug 10 '09 at 16:51

Probably not the solution but a very simple thing to look at - On the 'Task' tab of the scheduled job there is usually a check box that says 'run only if logged on'. If it's checked, un-check it.

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  • It's not checked, thank you though. Note, it's not working even when logged in, only when it is started by manually choosing to "run" the task. – palehorse Aug 6 '09 at 15:15

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