Fixing “The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect” in Windows Server Backup

The Problem:

When adding a disk to Windows Server 2008 R2’s built in backup tool in an already scheduled backup, you receive the error “The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect.” (Note that I’ve had problems with this exact error wording, but with a totally different scenario and solution. For more info, see: Solving the Issue: The Filename, Directory Name, or Volume Label Syntax is Incorrect (0x8007007B))

The filename, directory name, or volume label syntax is incorrect

Then, when going back and attempting to add the disk to the backup schedule again, you might get the error “Formatting the disk has failed. Please ensure the disk is online and accessible. The disk selected as the backup destination could not be found. Retry the operation with the same disk or select another disk.”

Formatting the disk has failed. Please ensure the disk is online and accessible. The disk selected as the backup destination could not be found. Retry the operation with the same disk or select another disk.

My Solution:

First, read the disgusting tale of underachievement laid out in KB2009365. When you have a backup job that started with one amount of disks, and you then choose to add a disk to the pool of available backup destinations, the GUI wants to verify all existing backup targets before continuing. That means if you currently have two drives as backup targets and want to add a third, you’d need to physically connect the first two backup targets for the above two errors to go away. If that’s an option for you, then that’s your easiest solution.

However, that’s not a solution for people who have offsite backup rotations and the other backup destinations are physically far away and / or data protection policies set forth by the company prohibit a server’s entire collection of backups from being on site at once (think: building fire. Or meteor strike. Or tripping down stairs.). In that case you have to modify the currently scheduled backup using the wbadmin command line tool.

First, connect the disk that you want to add to the scheduled backup. Next, use wbadmin get disks to list out the available disks to wbadmin.

wbadmin get disks

Find the disk that you want to add to the scheduled backup and make note of the Disk Identifier. In my case it’s disk #3 with a Disk Identifier of {933afef2-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}.

Next, you’ll add the new backup target using the Disk Identifier as the reference:

wbadmin enable backup -addtarget:{933afef2-0000-0000-0000-000000000000}

In theory that should leave the backup job untouched in every way except by the addition of the new backup target. However in my case I noticed that my full backup that at one point included each mounted drive letter was changed in the GUI to only a system image backup and the C: and E: drives. It dropped my D: drive for some reason.

My solution was to run the following:

wbadmin enable backup -allCritical -include:D:,E:

The -allCritical option includes the C: drive and then I manually added the D: and E: drives. This modified the scheduled backup that now already includes the new backup destination and includes all drive letters that I had previously selected in the GUI.

After you’ve added the additional drive with the -addTarget option, you’ll have another disk in the rotation and won’t have to connect the other backup drives to verify.

6 Comments

  1. PatrickE

    December 12, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Sir, thank you for this thorough write-up. Had me pulling my hair out for the n-the time tonight when trying to add 2 disks to a clients SBS2011 backup where indeed 2 other disks from the original set have been rotated off-site.
    Especially liked your phrasing “tale of underachievement”.

    Reply

  2. Carl

    February 1, 2017 at 11:14 am

    Thank you for this article. It solved my problem. 🙂

    Reply

  3. Michael Kulpa

    February 3, 2017 at 10:06 am

    In my case I had a failed iSCSI LUN that I couldn’t reconnect if I’d wanted to. I was able to add the replacement drive with this command line and then safely remove the failed connection.
    Thanks for your help!

    Reply

    • WesleyDavid

      April 4, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Awesome, thanks for the unique scenario.

      Reply

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