36100: Acronis vmProtect: "Instances list is empty" Error in the Log of Backup or Replication Task

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The backup or replication task fails with the "Instances list is empty" error. This article describes the possible reasons and solutions to this issue

Symptoms

The backup or replication task fails with the error similar to below:

Failed to create a backup.
Additional info:
--------------------
Error code: 3
Module: 435
LineInfo: 555b5abba09501af
Fields: $module : C:\Program Files (x86)\Acronis\vmProtect\Windows Agent\vmms.exe
Message: Failed to create a backup.
--------------------
Error code: 32786
Module: 114
LineInfo: 28314c961de7d32e
Fields: Message: Failed to prepare for backing up.
--------------------
Error code: 32768
Module: 114
LineInfo: 28314c961de7d2a1
Fields: Message: Instances list is empty.
--------------------'.

OR

Failed to create a backup.
Additional info:
--------------------
Error code: 3
Module: 435
LineInfo: 555b5abba09501af
Fields:
Message: Failed to create a backup.
--------------------
Error code: 32786
Module: 114
LineInfo: 28314c961de7d32e
Fields: Message: Failed to prepare for backing up.
--------------------
Error code: 32786
Module: 114
LineInfo: 28314c961de7d30e
Fields: Message: Failed to prepare for backup of machine ''.
--------------------
Error code: 22
Module: 83
LineInfo: 434f6bb6bcc4f9fa
Fields: Message: Failed to find registered virtual machine '5008c135-2b82-722c-0c9e-7589960e4742'.
--------------------'.

Another symptom is that viewing the details of the backup/replication task (View -> Tasks) under the Source tab for particular task does not show you the tree of the items selected for backup/replication. Instead there will be placed a "No data" warning in this Source tab.

Cause

The root cause here is that the identifiers (IDs) of the VMs/resource pools/hosts recorded in the backup or replication task properties (at the moment of creation) does not correspond these identifiers in the vSphere infrastructure (vCenter/ESX(i) host) registered in Acronis vmProtect under Configure->ESX(i) host tab. This vSphere infrastructure is stored inside the internal database (/var/lib/Acronis/vmProtect/VMMS/Instances/ folder).

This inconsistency may take place under the following conditions:

  1. You register vCenter/ESX(i) host in Acronis vmProtect Agent, then create a backup task, and after that unregister the vCenter/ESX(i) host. The task will fail with the symptoms described above.
  2. You register vCenter/ESX(i) host in Acronis vmProtect Agent, then create a backup task for particular VM, then this VM gets removed from the vSphere environment (deleted from disk for example). The task will fail with the symptoms described above.
  3. You create a backup/replication task and include some empty resource pool (without VMs inside) on the first step of the wizard.
  4. You have standalone ESX(i) host which is not managed by vCenter which under certain circumstances (exact reasons are yet unknown) causes the VMs to have empty 'instanceUuid' in vSphere infrastructure. In Acronis vmProtect 8 the 'instanceUuid' property is used to identify the VMs for backup/replication purposes and if this field is empty the task will fail (2nd error from Symptoms section).
    (!) This has been fixed in the latest update of Acronis vmProtect 8.
  5. You have added an entire ESX(i) host for backup (dynamic group) in the backup wizard. This ESX(i) host is managed by vCenter and this host has VM templates on it. If you select specific VMs to be backed up from this host - it succeeds, but entire host backup doesn't work with the error mentioned in the Symptoms section (2nd error).
    (!) This has been fixed in the latest update of Acronis vmProtect 8.

There can be also other scenarios where similar symptoms may occur.

Solution

First of all ensure that the VMs you selected in the backup/replication task are not removed from your vSphere environment.

Next thing to check is whether the tree of VMs/resource pools/hosts is expanded properly on the first step of the Backup or Replication wizard. If the tree is not expanded properly and some of the VMs are missing (only partially) then first of all try to wait for 1-2 minutes (usually less, i.e. this time depends on the size of the vSphere environment) until the list of instances is synchronized, i.e. until the VMs/resource pools/hosts are read by Acronis vmProtect Agent from the vSphere.

As a workaround you can try re-adding the vCenter/ESX(i) host under Configure->ESX(i) hosts and waiting for 1-2 minutes. After that edit the faulty backup/replication task and confirm the selection of the VMs/resource pools on the 1st step.

If there are still problems seeing only particular VMs in the backup/replication tree please check Acronis Backup for VMware: Backup Wizard Does Not Show Some of the VMs Existing on vCenter/ESX(i) Host for solutions.

If you have the symptoms described in Item 5 in the Cause section above then this is a known issue with Acronis vmProtect 8 which will be fixed in the nearest update. The problem is caused by presence of VM template on the host which is incorrectly handled by vmProtect. To workaround the issue either select specific VMs (instead of entire host) to be backed up in the Backup wizard or move the VM templates to some other host.

If none of the VMs are shown then check if you have symptoms described in Acronis vmProtect 7: After Upgrading from Acronis vmProtect 6 ESX Host Is Lost and Cannot Be Added, and if it does not help then follow the instructions from the Troubleshooting Steps section below.

Troubleshooting steps:

  1. Install the WinSCP utility which you can get from http://winscp.net/eng/download.php. WinSCP (Windows Secure CoPy) is a free and open source SFTP, SCP, and FTP client for Microsoft Windows. Its main function is to secure file transfer between a local and a remote computer. Beyond this, WinSCP offers basic file manager and file synchronization functionality.
  2. Log in to vSphere Client and open the console of Acronis vmProtect Virtual Appliance. Write down or remember the IP address of it.
  3. Press CTRL-SHIFT-ALT-SPACE-F1 and then ALT-F2 (this will bring you to the command line interface);
  4. In the console please type this command: /bin/sshd
  5. Launch the WinSCP utility on the machine where you installed it;
  6. In the host machine field type your Acronis vmProtect Virtual Appliance IP (recorded on Step 2), the same as in the vSphere console. The default login:password is root:root (the password may differ if you changed it via web console at Configure -> Agent Password).
  7. The protocol should be set to SCP and then click on log in.
  8. You will get a window with all the directories of the Appliance (Windows Commander-like interface), we are interested in the /tmp/core file (only if present) and /var/lib/Acronis/vmProtect/ folder. Please copy both file and the folder, pack them into .zip and contact Acronis Customer Central with the collected information and a reference to this article.

More information

The fact that synchronization of the vSphere environment changes with the infrastructure database recorded in Acronis vmProtect Agent is not instant means that if you add some host/vCenter under "Configure->ESX(i) hosts" and then immediately go to the Backup wizard - the VMs tree may not be populated properly. Just restart the Backup wizard within the next 1-2 minutes (usually less time is required).

 

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