Using BackupPC with DiskShadow to backup open files


This post is to assist in the setup of a BackupPC system able to backup in use files by using MS volume snapshots. It also has the benefit of only having the RSync daemon running during the backup which increases security.

This method is based on some other posts I have seen using VShadow, Backing Up Open Files on Windows with Rsync, and some suggestions on DiskShadow but goes further in using RSync as a system service giving full access to files, and removing the need to use winexe.

General Outline

  1. Create a new user backuppc (try to match case of the user on Linux). Very limited rights
  2. Install Cygwin with RSync, OpenSSH and configure them
  3. Create a scheduled task to run as SYSTEM when triggered by a certain event
  4. Set BackupPC server for passwordless login to host and modify Pre/Post Dump Cmds


In Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 elevation is required to create snapshots. As a remote SSH connection cannot bypass UAC a way is needed to create the snapshot, bypassing the elevation prompt. I also wished to run the Rsync Daemon as SYSTEM user so it has rights to view all files.

To do this I moved all the elevated tasks into a Task Scheduler item that is set to run as SYSTEM, and is triggered by an Event log event.

  1. BackupPC performs a password-less key SSH logon to client
  2. It runs a script which creates an event log entry and then waits for RSync to start before returning to BackupPC and starting the backup.
  3. Task scheduler is triggered by Event Log and starts DiskShadow as SYSTEM.
  4. Disk shadow creates a shadow of any chosen volumes, mounts them and then starts RSync.
    It then waits for a file to be created by BackupPC at the end of the backup telling it to stop RSync and delete the snaphots.

Flow and triggers

BackupPC Server Host PC
backuppc User backuppc User SYSTEM
Start Backup
SSH to Host PC
Log Event Diskshadow: Snaphsot
Start Rsync
Close and return
Begin Backup
Finish Backup
SSH to Host PC
Create a Wake.up file
Stop Rsync
Delete Snaphost

Host PC

Create a new user, backuppc, you can limit this account further in Security policy after everything is configured.

Create a BackupPC folder and add the following scripts to it. These are also available in a zip file.

  BackupPC Config Files (4.2 KiB, 1,939 hits)

You will need to modify paths depending on where you create the folder. I used C:\cygwin\BackupPC but a better location may be C:\cygwin\usr\share\BackupPC

Most of these scripts are just modified versions of the ones written for VShadow, changed to work with DiskShadow and Task Scheduler.


' This file starts the commands
' It will start the snapshot process and quite once RSync is running

Const Rsync = "C:\cygwin\var\run\"
Const Flag = "C:\cygwin\var\run\wake.up"
Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
' Pid file shouldn't be there already
' Check /stop service , still there delete
If DoesFileExist(Rsync)=0 Then
End If
' Nor should "wake.up"
If DoesFileExist(Flag)=0 Then
End If

Set objShell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
' objShell.Exec "C:\BackupPC\backuppc.cmd > " & Log

' This writes event log entry that triggers task scheduler to start system process
' that takes snapshot and starts RSync
objShell.Exec "Logevent.exe -r ""BackupPC"" -e 10 -s S ""Backup Start"" "
Wscript.Echo "Sent BackupPC Event Log Trigger"

' Just sleep until the file "" appears

While DoesFileExist(Rsync)
   wscript.sleep 10000

' functions

function DoesFileExist(FilePath)
Dim fso
	Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
	if not fso.FileExists(FilePath) then
		DoesFileExist = -1
		DoesFileExist = 0
	end if
	Set fso = Nothing

end function


cd C:\cygwin\BackupPC
diskshadow /s DiskShadowScript.txt /l C:\cygwin\var\log\diskshadow.log
del C:\cygwin\var\tmp\*.cab /q
c:cd C:\cygwin\BackupPCdiskshadow /s DiskShadowScript.txt /l C:\cygwin\var\log\diskshadow.log
del C:\cygwin\var\tmp\*.cab /q


#DiskShadow script file

#Make shadows persistent, No writers as data volume

# If backing up C: and any app files (ntds, database, etc) use writers



#Cab location for process

SET METADATA C:\cygwin\var\tmp\



#Alias volume with alias



#Create Snapshot


#Expose the volume and run command file then unexpose

EXPOSE %UserData% B:

EXPOSE %SystemData% T:

EXEC C:\cygwin\BackupPC\Serverbackup.cmd




#Delete the shadow copy


#End of script


REM Start RSync now that Snapshots are created

net start rsyncd

REM Need to wait until backup completed

cscript "C:\cygwin\BackupPC\sleep.vbs"

Logevent.exe -r "BackupPC" -e 20 -s S "Backup Completed"


Const Rsync = "C:\cygwin\var\run\"
Const Flag = "C:\cygwin\var\run\wake.up"
Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")

' Just sleep until the file "" appears
While DoesFileExist(Rsync)
   wscript.sleep 10000

' Now sleep until the file "wake.up" appears
While DoesFileExist(Flag)
   wscript.sleep 10000


' It's time to kill Rsync
'Stop Service
strServiceName = "rsyncd"
Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\.\root\cimv2")
Set colListOfServices = objWMIService.ExecQuery("Select * from Win32_Service Where Name ='" & strServiceName & "'")
For Each objService in colListOfServices
	Wscript.Echo "RSyncD Stopped"

' Wait for Rsync to let go
wscript.sleep 5000

' Delete PID file
If DoesFileExist(Rsync)=0 Then
End If

' functions
function DoesFileExist(FilePath)
Dim fso
	Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
	if not fso.FileExists(FilePath) then
		DoesFileExist = -1
		DoesFileExist = 0
	end if
	Set fso = Nothing

end function


Install Cygwin and choose to install packages RSync and OpenSSH

Start an elevated Cygwin (Run as an Administrator )


Cygwin 1.7 changes the way to ignore NT Security from the nontsec environment to modifying fstab file.

In your prefered editor modify /etc/fstab and uncomment the bottom line and add noacl as below, this tells it to ignore security :

none /cygdrive cygdrive binary,noacl,posix=0,user 0 0

Run following to update group and user lists (if on a domain only add the users you want)

[bashlight=1]mkpasswd –l >/etc/passwd
mkgroup –l /etc/group[/bash]


Configure Open SSH using ssh-host-config, create both the accounts it suggests for privilege isolation and running the service (cyg_service & sshd).
This should also automatically add the Firewall Exceptions (SSHD).

Setting up Keyless

Login as backuppc user.

runas /user:backuppc cmd


runas /user:domain\backuppc cmd

Run c:\cygwin\Cygwin.bat to start Cygwin as BackupPC user

You need to add the file from the BackupPC user on BackupPC server to C:\cygwin\home\backuppc\.ssh\authorized_keys If you have not already created one follow the instructions below in BackupPC – SSH section.


To install RSync as a system service use:

C:\cygwin\bin\cygrunsrv.exe -I rsyncd -d "RSync Daemon" -O --type manual -p /bin/rsync.exe -f "Used by BackupPC to remotely access files for backup" -a " --config=/etc/rsyncd.conf --daemon --no-detach"

Modify the /etc/rsyncd.conf file to reflect what drives you want to backup. It is better to edit this file later after you have modified the DiskShadowScript.txt and changed which drive letter it exposes shadows as.

Add a RSync exception to the firewall.

Open Windows Firewall with Advanced Security and choose Inbound Rules, New Rule, Program,  Next

Browse to C:\cygwin\bin\rsync.exe and then choose your options and name the rule

When finished open the rule, click Scope tab and add a Remote IP, that of the BackupPC server. This restricts RSync to only be accessible from BackupPC. You may also wish to similarly modify SSHD to only allow SSH access from BackupPC server.


If you are backing up a windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 host you already have DiskShadow installed. However, if you are running Windows 7 or Vista you will need to grab a copy from an equivalent server (x86 or x64). It is located in the System32 directory and you will also need the language file from the en-US folder.

I have zipped the files needed for x86 and x64 if you do not have immediate access to a Server.

  DiskShadow (362.0 KiB, 2,890 hits)

 (The x86 files are from Server 2008 and x64 are from 2008 R2)

Copy the files from your architecture to the system32 directory and en-US subdirectory.


To generate the custom event log entry a tool from the Windows 2000 Resource kit is used, LogEvent, (Download). This needs to be either placed in the Path (e.g. Windows dir) or scripts need to directly call it.

Task Scheduler

The easiest way to configure this is to manually run LogEvent once to generate an event in the log.

Logevent.exe -r "BackupPC" -e 10 -s S "Backup Start"

Then open Event Viewer, Select the new BackupPC event and choose Attach Task to this Event, and in the wizard click next until it asks for the program, then give it C:\cygwin\BackupPC\backuppc.cmd

On Final page choose to Open Properties when you click Finish

Click the Change User or Group button and type in System as the user  and click OK. Also tick the Run with highest privileges box

BackupPC Server


This section is only needed if you do not already have keys generated for the backuppc user.

Login as backuppc user, either with password or simply “su – backuppc” from root

Generate SSH Keys, ssh-keygen –t rsa, do not set a password. Copy into C:\cygwin\home\backuppc\.ssh \authorized_keys

Test by running ssh -v backuppc@host to test the connection

BackupPC Host File

In the web interface change the following for the host.

DumpPreUserCmd:  $sshPath -q -x -l backuppc $host cscript "C:\cygwin\BackupPC\pre-cmd.vbs"
 DumpPostUserCmd: $sshPath -q -x -l backuppc $host echo "Complete: $xferOK" > /var/run/wake.up

Test Run

If you have existing backups from a previous RSync config, it is a good idea to run a full backup to ensure any in use files are part of the base. In my case I also changed the noacl flag which affected the file attributes RSync sees.


Set your antivirus to exclude the exposed drives. As they are read only it just slows down the reading of files by RSync.


  DiskShadow (362.0 KiB, 2,890 hits)

  BackupPC Config Files (4.2 KiB, 1,939 hits)


  • While writing this up I found a good alternative way of using VShadow with SSH to backup in use files, that uses the AT command instead of task scheduler to get around UAC, BackupPC with ssh/rsync/VSS on Windows Server. The only down side to this method is the SSH connection requires an Admin account, but if configured securely this should be fine. It also a lot simpler to configure as it does not require configuring Task Scheduler.
  • There is a great script for managing VSS by Mark Baggett and Tim “LaNMaSteR53” Tomes VSSOwn.vbs which was discussed in one of their security blog posts, Safely Dumping Hashes from Live Domain Controllers

About James Rudd

Network Administrator at Sydney Boys High School
This entry was posted in Linux, Utilities, Windows and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Using BackupPC with DiskShadow to backup open files

  1. ccxzy says:

    hi, for windows 7, we need the x86 diskshadow from windows server 2008 R2, you got your x86 from windows server 2008 not from R2, any chance that you will update this post for those other files? thanks

    • James Rudd says:

      Server 2008 R2 only comes in x64 versions, so there is no x86 version to provide.

      • ccxzy says:

        Oh, thanks. Do you think trying the x64 diskshadow would be dangerous in my windows 7 system?

        just for the benefit of other readers, the x86 file didn’t work in my windows 7 system. haven’t tried the x64 though, (as I’m not home).

  2. Anonymous says:

    Tested on Windows 7 ultimate edition (64bit) and this is soooo much easier to use than volume shadow copy 🙂

    I’ve used for my backup solution but this hangs on Windows 7 with blue screens 🙁
    This one just works 🙂

  3. Tiny says:

    Does this also aply to Windows XP?

    I have issues with Task Scheduler (Logevent.exe)

    • James Rudd says:

      I have not tried it on XP. I believe the Shadow Copy process changed between XP and 7 so you may need to use different commands to create and mount the shadow copy.

  4. Leon says:

    Wondering if you know if anyone who has gotten diskshadow to run on 32bit windows 7 (pro)?

    I installed diskshadow 32 bit version. Diskshadow command immediately returned to windows prompt. System event log says Entry Point Not Found : The procedure entry point ??1CVssFunctionTracer@@QAE@XZ could not be located in the dynamic link library vsstrace.dll”.

    I brought across the diskshadow.exe and vsstrace.dll from a 32 bit 2008 server. At least diskshadow starts, but when I enter “ADD VOLUME c: ALIAS drivec” diskshadow crashes. Event log says, in part,
    “Faulting application name: diskshadow.exe, version: 6.0.6002.18005, time stamp: 0x49e01f17
    Faulting module name: VssTrace.DLL”

    Any ideas???

    Thanks in advance,

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