StorageCraft / ShadowProtect Service Failure: Desktop Heap Allocation Issues



On a Windows agent, the StorageCraft or ShadowProtect services might fail to start when invoked, leading to "Backup failed because the agent was unable to initiate the backup job," "Backup failed due to a problem establishing secure communications with the agent," or "Backup failed because of a problem with making a backup request to the agent" errors.

On investigation of the Windows Event Logs, you observe an error similar to the following:

Log Name: System
Source: Win32k
Date: 24-12-2013 20:51:59
Event ID: 243
Task Category: None
Level: Warning
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
A desktop heap allocation failed.


  • ShadowSnap Agent


This error is caused by desktop heap allocation issues.

From the Microsoft Developer Network (external link):

"Every desktop object on the system has a desktop heap associated with it. The desktop object uses the heap to store menus, hooks, strings, and windows. The system allocates desktop heap from a system-wide 48-MB buffer. In addition to desktop heaps, printer, and font drivers also use this buffer.

Desktops are associated with window stations. A window station can contain zero or more desktops. The size of the desktop heap allocated for a desktop associated with a window station can be changed in the following registry value."

After this error occurs, the ShadowSnap agent software can not communicate with Windows correctly.


To correct this error, you will need to increase desktop heap moving forward. This error is a Microsoft error, and Datto is unable to make specific recommendations as to the amount of desktop heap which should be allocated to the protected system.

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