Is it worth choosing SharePoint over file server?

 

1

So this post is on a well-known topic which has been going on for years now as a debate. I’m pretty sure a lot of you would have read many articles/blog posts on this topic .However, in this post I’ll be discussing about my point of view on choosing “SharePoint” over “file server”. So in order to get started, let’s ask this question for ourselves whether SharePoint can be the right alternative solution for a file server? Let’s assume that you’re the IT person in your company and the business comes to you stating that we need to decommission all the File servers and go ahead with SharePoint for storing user’s contents and they want you to do some research on whether SharePoint can be the right alternative for a file server, then the contents that I’ll be discussing on this article should suffice your need. Well I understand that it’s too late for me to come up with an article on this topic considering the fact that SharePoint has been a successful product for years now .However, I still see a lot of companies who are actively working on migrating their contents from a file server to SharePoint and still most of them are doing a lot of research on whether SharePoint is the right platform for file storage & collaboration when compared to a file server and I hope this article will give them some insights.

So let’s get into business now ….

First let’s try to understand what a file server is all about and why any firm would use a file server to store contents.

File server:

In a computing environment a file server is nothing but a heavily configured computer which is connected to a network that has the primary purpose of providing a location for shared disk access, i.e. shared storage of computer files (such as documents, sound files, photographs, movies, images, databases, etc.) that can be accessed by the workstations that are connected to the same computer network.

2.png

So as said in the above definition , the file server will be connected to the same network where all the end user’s work station has been connected and the users can store the documents from their PC’s file system to the file server so that it’s accessed by all . Let’s consider a scenario where a group of employees are working on a project and they want to store some documents, videos and audio files etc. …about the client and they want to store it in a place which can be made accessible by everyone then a file server would suffice that purpose. Let’s take a look on the features of a file server to understand more about the use of a file server.

3.jpg

Features of a file server:

  1. Has large disk space and RAM size to store a large number of files of any type ( provided that your firm’s IT department has not restricted any specific file type )
  2. It has been given access to all the employees or a specific team (i.e. HR, finance team) in your domain so that they can use it for storing and accessing contents.
  3. It has NTFS file and folder level permissions configured within it so that user’s don’t get to access other team’s content (meaning users have access only to a specific file or folder).
  4. Users can map a folder from the file server to their workstations as network paths so that they can directly dump their files to the file server using few mouse clicks.
  5. It can be used to store software packages, executables and also large multimedia files.

Now once you take a look at the basic features of a file server it’s quite obvious that you would have a question within your mind as …Isn’t SharePoint much cooler than this? The answer is yes but with certain drawbacks and I will discuss about this later on this article.

Let’s take a look at the basic functionalities of SharePoint and see how it’s different from a file server.

SharePoint:

4

To be more specific SharePoint is mainly an enterprise collaboration platform rather than a content storage platform .So what I mean by this is, you can obviously store your contents in SharePoint with certain limitations but SharePoint is brilliant in terms of collaboration when compared to a file server. This would make some sense if we take a look at the features of SharePoint.

Features of SharePoint:

  1. Can be used as a one stop for end users to store their documents and also to collaborate within themselves.
  2. It has some out of the box functionalities such as workflows, two –stage recyclebin and it also maintains document versions which is not feasible in a file server.
  3. SharePoint gives you a web based access to your files from anywhere (work, home, the airport) and from anything (PC, MAC, Tablet, mobile devices, whatever) – in a Web browser or familiar Explorer view.
  4. It can provide you Check-In/Check-Out abilities – when a file is checked out, others that try to edit the file will be informed that you have it, and it will prevent them from overwriting the changes you have made to the document that you’ve been working on.
  5. You can have alerts configured for a document library, list or SharePoint site so that you get mail alerts to our mailbox for all the modifications.
  6. You can access your SharePoint site from anywhere and from any device which is not the case with a file server. All you need is an internet connection and you can access all your files from any device.
  7. You can work on a document offline and sync that with SharePoint once you’ve made all the necessary modifications to the document.
  8. More than anything else the “ search functionality “ in SharePoint is such a cool feature which can help you search for a document in whichever way you require and it makes search very easy for the end user. I hope we’re all aware how painful it is to search for a file in a file server using the windows search box.

So by comparing the functionalities of both SharePoint and file server anybody would obviously say that SharePoint is the right go to platform for content storage and collaboration. But let’s also be aware that SharePoint as a product comes with certain limitations and boundaries and it’s quite hard to break them.

The links below should help you understand about the software boundaries and limitations in each version of SharePoint .It’s quite important that you abide by these boundaries and limits for the optimal performance of your SharePoint farm.

Software boundaries and limitations for SharePoint 2010:_ http://www.jeremytaylor.net/2010/10/03/sharepoint-2010-boundaries-thresholds-and-supported-limits/

Software boundaries and limitations for SharePoint 2013: _ https://technet.microsoft.com/en-IN/library/cc262787.aspx

Software boundaries and limitations for SharePoint online: _ https://support.office.com/en-us/article/SharePoint-Online-software-boundaries-and-limits-8f34ff47-b749-408b-abc0-b605e1f6d498

Once you take a look at this boundaries I believe you may start wondering whether SharePoint is the right candidate for large content storage and that’s exactly the point that I’m trying to make here. There are certain scenarios that I’ve outlined below for which the file server would be the right candidate when compared to SharePoint.

  1. File servers are preferred for large document storage. SharePoint best handles documents in the 50- to 300-MB range and can handle documents up to 2 GB with configuration modifications, but documents over 2 GB must be stored on a file server. (This limits have changed in the later versions of SharePoint. However you can’t have very large files as you do in a file server)
  2. Software distribution points for hot-fixes, updates, and application distribution is handled much well from a file server.
  3. File servers are better suited for My Documents redirection and backups. Many companies use group policies to redirect the location of users’ My Documents so that they can back up their content each night. Creating mapped drives to document libraries and then using policies to redirect users’ My Documents to those libraries is an untested and unsupported scenario in SharePoint. File servers should be used for this purpose and are supported.
  4. Storing databases in a SharePoint list is the same as storing a database within a database and is not recommended. If your data need triggers or stored procedures, you may look at the workflows and events as mechanisms for this process, but creating triggers or stored procedures inside the SharePoint databases is not supported.
  5. Database type files such as .mdf, .pst, and .ost are best stored on a file server rather than a SharePoint server.
  6. Developer source control of emerging assemblies and new code files are better managed in Visual Studio Team Services, which requires a file server.
  7. Archive files that will not change and will not be included in future collaboration are best stored on file servers.

Also from a licensing perspective when we talk about SharePoint we are not just talking about SharePoint alone as an application, we are indeed talking about the Windows server license (i.e. CAL)  which will acts as the underlying Operating system, SharePoint license and also the backend SQL server’s license . Let’s take a look at the different topologies available in SharePoint so that we can understand about how licensing works in SharePoint and also to know more about the logical architecture of SharePoint.

A SharePoint farm can  deployed on one, two, or three tiers, as follows and this can increase based on how you want to scale out your SharePoint farm for optimal performance .

Single-tier deployment:

In a single-tier deployment, SharePoint server and the database server are installed on one computer as shown in the image below.

5.gif

Two-tier deployment:

In a two-tier deployment, SharePoint components and the database are installed on separate servers. This kind of deployment is mostly called as a small farm. The front-end Web servers are on the first tier and the database server is located on the second tier.

6.png

Three-tier or multi-tier deployment:

In a three-tier deployment, the front-end Web servers are on the first tier, the application servers are on the second tier, which is known as the application tier, and the database server is located on the third tier. This is mostly used for medium and large farms.

7.png

I’ve also written a detailed post on how licensing works on SharePoint and you can take a look at that post to know more about SharePoint licensing.

Now that we have seen a lot about licensing and the topology it’s clear that SharePoint is expensive when compared to a file server and you really need make a correct decision on when to choose SharePoint and when not to .The cost of SharePoint farm may increase depending on the size of the farm that you choose to build. Also please note that you need to invest on Network load balancers as well such as F5 for so that user traffic is managed properly .It would also be worthwhile to have clear understanding about the strengths and limitations of SharePoint so that you can choose the right platform for your company.

As far as the strengths are concerned, listed below are the major strengths of SharePoint:

  1. Collaboration & Document Management –>SharePoint is the best tool in the market as far as collaboration is concerned because it’s very useful for users who work on the same document for their day to day work.
  2. Integration–>SharePoint can integrate very well with other Microsoft products such as Exchange server and Skype for business server and in addition to that it can also be integrated with other ERP applications such as SAP and Oracle.
  3. Automate–> One good example for this is the workflow feature which comes OOTB with SharePoint.
  4. Backups–> You can have backups configured for your SQL databases that host the SharePoint data in it so that your data is always safe.
  5. Versioning–> Document versioning is once again a cool feature where you can have multiple versions of the same document and SharePoint does a brilliant job in saving this on the SQL database without consuming much disk space on the SQL server.
  6. Upgradation –>You can always go ahead and upgrade your SharePoint server with latest CU’s so that you get all the latest functionalities and bug fixes released by Microsoft and in addition to that you can also upgrade your SharePoint application from one version to another to meet business needs ( i.e. from SharePoint 2010 to 2013 or from SharePoint 2010 to Office 365 )
  7. Hybrid functionality  –>You can have a server version of SharePoint running on your datacenter and the same can be integrated with the cloud version of SharePoint ( i.e. SharePoint Online –Office 365) and hence leverage the functionalities of SharePoint Online from your on-premises environment itself .
  8. Accessibility –> You can access the files in your SharePoint from anywhere and from any device .All you need is a good internet connection
  9. Right Business Product –>SharePoint is not something which is just used for content storage and collaboration .Its other major purpose is for creating portals and many companies use SharePoint as their Intranet portal.

Now let’s see the limitations in SharePoint:

  1. Storage capacity –>As already discussed above, SharePoint as a product comes with some inbuilt limitations and the storage capacity is one among them. It’s not really a good idea to break these limits.
  2. File sizes –> Once again another issue with SharePoint is the file size .It doesn’t support files that has large size.
  3. File names –>SharePoint has a known limit of 256 characters for a file name (this includes the complete path which includes the site name, document library name as well as the file name for a file.)
  4. File types–>SharePoint doesn’t support all the file types (meaning you can’t go ahead and upload an executable file to a SharePoint document library) .There is list of supported file types in SharePoint.You can check that by clicking here.
  5. Technical skillset –>Working on SharePoint needs some proper skillset .Without having the required skillset it’s not possible for your end users to use SharePoint effectively.

So in order to conclude before choosing SharePoint over file serve to store contents for collaboration it’s always better to reconsider the exact need of the business and ask yourself whether SharePoint will support them. If not then you’re probably wasting your time and money in implementing SharePoint .Of course SharePoint is a great platform but it can be great only when it’s used for the right purpose.

To put it in simple words if the business need is to have a platform to suffice the below mentioned needs then SharePoint is the right go to platform.

  1. To store Customer related information
  2. To work on documents related to a specific Projects
  3. To schedule some Tasks
  4. To store documents which speaks about Processes and Procedures
  5. You need ability to have versioning, auditing or retention policies
  6. Provide search extensibility on documents for easier finding or navigation
  7. Your end users are looking for some automation.
  8. Your end users are aware of how to use SharePoint and they have the technical skillset to access SharePoint and they know where to go to get what they want.

On the other hand if the business is looking for a platform just to store documents , store contents with large file size, store executable file and is also looking for some cost cutting then it’s better to choose a file server .

On my years of experience till now, I’ve seen a lot of successful SharePoint implementations and I’ve seen some failed one too. So it’s always good to have a proper knowledge on both the platforms and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Thanks for reading this post …..Happy SharePointing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Removing an External user from SharePoint Online using SharePoint Online management Shell:

1

This post discusses about the steps that are supposed to be followed to remove an external user from SharePoint Online (Office 365). An external user is one who’s not a part of your domain (meaning his/her user account won’t be present in your on-premises Active Directory which later got synced with Azure AD nor would be present on Azure AD alone). To be more elaborative…An external user is someone outside your organization (i.e. domain) who can access your SharePoint Online sites and documents but does not have a proper license assigned to him to access SharePoint Online or any other Microsoft Office 365 services. These so called “External users” are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for you or your affiliates.

External users inherit the use rights of the SharePoint Online customer who is inviting them to collaborate. For example, if an organization purchases an E3/E5 Enterprise plan, and builds a site that uses enterprise features, the external user is granted rights to use and/or view the enterprise features within the site they are invited to. While external users can be invited as extended project members to perform a full range of actions on a site, they will not have the exact same capabilities as a full, paid, licensed member within your organization.

So let’s take a look at the steps to remove an external user using SharePoint Online Management Shell…

Note: Before proceeding further, make sure you have installed and configured SharePoint Online management shell in your PC. I’ve created a post on that and please check this link to access that.

  1. Start the SharePoint Online Management Shell.
  2. Type the following cmdlet:

$credential  =  Get-Credential

Once you enter this cmdlet you would get a windows dialog box asking for your Office 365 credentials, please enter your credentials and then validate it by using the $credential cmdlet . This will return the UPN with which you signed in.

2.png

3. Once done, run the below mentioned cmdlet to connect to your SharePoint Online tenant.

Connect-SPOService -Url https://365vignesh-admin.sharepoint.com -Credential (Get-Credential)

3.png

  1. Get the external user’s information (i.e. the one whom you want to remove) by running the below mentioned cmdlet.

 $user = Get-SPOExternalUser -Filter user@domain.no  #Provide the email address of the user

4.png

 5. Now once you have retrieved the external user’s information run the below mentioned cmdlet to remove the user as shown below

 Remove-SPOExternalUser -UniqueIDs @($user.UniqueId)

Click Y to confirm to remove user as shown in the screen-shot below.

5

 6. Once done, in order to remove the user from all the SharePoint Online site collections you need to run the below mentioned cmdlet. Please note that this command has to be ran for all the site collections where the user has been granted access to.

Get-SPOUserSite https://365vignesh.sharepoint.com/teams/no02 -LoginName alan_eric-nolen.no#ext#@365vignesh.onmicrosoft.com

Here the login name is what you get when you search for this user on “Manage user profiles” section in SharePoint admin center.

6

7. Now remove the external user using the below mentioned cmdlet.

Remove-SPOUser -Site https://365vignesh.sharepoint.com/teams/no02  LoginName alan_eric-nolen.no#ext#@365vignesh.onmicrosoft.com

7

8. You can verify whether the user has been removed successfully by running the “Get-SPOUser” that we ran in the previous step and it should return an error stating that the user cannot be found. This confirms that the user has been removed successfully.

9. Now in addition to all the above mentioned steps you need to remove the user from the UserInfo list as well so that the user doesn’t show up in the people picker field when you search for that user. For that go to the site collection URL in question and edit the URL by adding the following string to the end of it.

_layouts/15/people.aspx/membershipGroupId=0

 For example if the site collection name is https://<vignesh&gt;.sharepoint.com then this is how you need to edit the URL by adding the string.

https://<vignesh&gt;.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/people.aspx/membershipGroupId=0

10. Finally, once the user has been removed from SharePoint Online as well as the site collection in question, the external user’s profile will still show up under “Manage user profiles” section in SharePoint admin center. This is quite normal and please wait for SharePoint Online to remove the user’s profile from the SharePoint admin center. This task will take couple of hours and hence please check the status of that user’s account in SharePoint Online admin center after few hours .You would notice that the user’s profile has been removed successfully.

8.png

11. Once you have confirmed that the user’s account has been removed successfully, you need to clear the browser cache. Please note that SharePoint Online uses browser caching in several scenarios, including the People Picker. Even though a user was fully removed from the system, he or she may still remain in the browser cache. Clearing the browser cache should resolve this issue

Thanks for reading this post ….Happy SharePointing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great opportunity for Office 365 folks:

office 365.png

Microsoft has  planned and set up 8 different Office 365 Labs webcasts that will be delivered during September and these are the topics that will be discussed in the webcast.

1. Office 365 Labs – Using PowerShell to automate tasks
2. Office 365 Labs – Mastering Azure AD Connect
3. Office 365 Labs – Mail flow
4. Office 365 Labs – Getting the best out of Outlook and Exchange Online
5. Office 365 Labs – OneDrive Synchronization 101
6. Office 365 Labs – Sharing and collaboration with internal and external users in SharePoint Online
7. Office 365 Labs – AD FS and multi-factor authentication explained
8. Office 365 Labs – Exchange Online compliance features (In-Place Archive, In-Place Hold, eDiscovery)

Please use this link below to enroll yourself for these sessions

Office 365 Labs webcasts coming in September

Clearing the myths between Request Management service in SharePoint 2013 and Network Load balancer:

Alright. So the heading of this article would have pretty much given a brief explanation about what this post would be about and hence I’m not going to write a brief introduction session here about this post. I’m pretty sure that a lot of SharePoint Geeks out there have written a lot about Request Management service in SharePoint 2013 and Load balancer configuration for a SharePoint 2013 farm, however there seems to be a lot of confusion among SharePoint practitioners in understanding the difference between these two .I didn’t mean to offend anybody here but the features and functionalities of these two are so similar so that anybody would possibly get confused. So in this post I’ll be explaining what these two mean in detail and how they differ from each other (meaning where the boundary for Request Management service stops when compared to a load balancer).

Now let’s get into the meats and potatoes ….

1. Request Management service in SharePoint 2013 :

For those who are new to SharePoint 2013 or if you’re hearing about “Request Management service”  for the first time , please go ahead and take a look at my blog post on Request Management service .  I’ve given a detailed explanation on what “Request Management service” is all about and how it works. However, to put it in simple words….Request Management service take care of managing  incoming requests by evaluating the logic rules set against them in order to determine which action to take, and which machine or machines in the farm (if any) should handle the incoming requests . Now there’s a lot of mechanism which happens in RM service, please take a look on Spencer Harber’s article on Request Management service to know about that in detail. As always Spencer has did a fabulous job in explaining it on detail.

In addition to this there are couple of other important points that one should be aware of as far as Request Management service is concerned.

  1. Request manager is the first code that runs in response to HTTP requests. It is implemented in SPRequestModule
  2. Request Manager requires the SharePoint foundation web application service to be started on the server.
  • Request manager service should only be started on a server that’s acting as a WFE, else it’s of no use.

1.png

2.Load balancer for SharePoint :

Now as you’re aware high availability in SharePoint is achieved in the web tier level by deploying multiple front end servers to serve web pages and host web parts. A load balancer directs traffic across these servers, monitors health and ensures that the best possible target is used for individual requests. The default SharePoint architecture works in such a manner that any server in the farm which has the “SharePoint foundation web application service “turned on will be acting as a Web Front end server. Hence you can go ahead and turn off this service on a server that is acting as an App server. However, if your servers have enough resources then there shouldn’t be any harm on leaving it on, as in case if you WFEs go down you can let APP server handle user web requests temporarily.

2.png

Now let’s discuss on how they differ from each other so that we don’t get confused by their similar functionalities:

The first thing which we need to understand is that the Request Management service becomes effective only when the user request gets passed the Network Load balancer which takes care of handling user traffic . As you’re aware the NLB is the one which takes care of handling user traffic and if a user’s request doesn’t even gets passed the load balancer then technically it means that the user’s request is not hitting the SharePoint farm where the Request management service is configured .To put it in simple words the user’s request need to pass the 1st gate which is the NLB and only upon the successful completion of that the user’s request will hit the appropriate Web front servers where the Request Management service will be configured . So once the user’s request hits the SharePoint farm then the RM service will validate the request and will then act accordingly. I believe the image below will give you a clear understanding of how this is configured for a SharePoint 2013 farm.

Dedicated mode:

3.jpgIntegrated Mode:

4.jpg

In both the modes you can notice that the user traffic first has to go through the HLB before it reaches the SharePoint 2013 farm where the Request Management service is configured. Now if you’re more curious in understanding the difference between the above said two modes ….In the first mode (i.e. Dedicated mode) you will have a SharePoint farm configured only for Request management service (meaning all the servers in that farm will have only the RM service turned on the WFE’s) .In this mode the SharePoint farm which has the RM service configured will be configured in such a way that it’s kept between the LB and the actual PROD server where the user’s content exist. The second one is called the (Integrated mode) where you will find the RM service being turned on all the WFE servers in the SharePoint farm. The first mode is pretty expensive bearing in mind the license costs and will be mostly used in very large SharePoint farm implementations .The second mode is pretty affordable because in this mode all the WFE servers which are part of the actual farm will have the RM service turned on in it.

To conclude RM service and NLB/HLB are two different things altogether and they don’t suffice the same purpose .The NLB/HLB takes care of sending the user request to the appropriate WFE’s whereas the Request management service takes care of how to handle that incoming request which is sent to the WFE server . Both these are optimal for any successful SharePoint implementation.

Thanks for reading this post …..Happy SharePointing!!!

 

Fix for follow web part broken issue in SharePoint My site:

Alright as mentioned in my previous blog post , we heard back from Microsoft about the fix for this issue and looks like Microsoft will be rolling out the fix for this in October 2016 CU for SharePoint server 2013. So if you’re facing this issue in your environment please wait for October 2016 CU as that should include the fix for this.

Happy SharePointing!!!

foloow 1

SharePoint 2013 –Followed count webpart stopped working in My site:

This post is related to a known issue which most SharePoint professionals might have experienced after patching your SharePoint 2013 farm with August 2015 CU . I hope everyone would agree that it was one of the most expected CU during the time of its release as this introduced the Hybrid search functionality in SharePoint 2013 ( meaning : If you want to deploy Hybrid search between SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 then your farm should be patched with August 2015 CU ) . In addition to that, it also broke some other functionalities and I’ve also blogged about that (please check this link for that) .Now in this blog post we will be discussing about a known issue which we recently happened to encounter in our SharePoint 2013 farm.

The issue which I’m talking about here is something which you might have experienced for yourself when you try to access your SharePoint My site and may be your end users might have reported about this behavior to you. When you try to open the SharePoint My site you would end up getting an error message as shown in the screenshot below.

foloow 1

Now inorder to temporarily get rid of this you can use SharePoint designer and close this webpart so that your end users won’t be seeing this annoying error message when they access their My site. As you already know the “followed count” web part in your SharePoint My site displays all the sites you follow. From here all the sites you follow in SharePoint are just a click away.

As the initial phase of troubleshooting this issue ,we turned on verbose logging and grabbed the logs to understand what was causing this and we found these entries in the logs.

System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object.  

 at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.WebControls.FollowedCountsWebPart.GetHybridSpoUrl(UserProfile profile)   

 at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.WebControls.FollowedCountsWebPart.RenderWebPart(HtmlTextWriter writer)   

 at Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.WebPart.Render(HtmlTextWriter writer)   

 at System.Web.UI.Control.RenderControlInternal(HtmlTextWriter writer, ControlAdapter adapter)   

 at Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.SPChrome.RenderPartContents(HtmlTextWriter output, WebPart part

However, all the possible troubleshooting steps we tried was not getting us any closer to fix this issue. Of course we googled about this and found that this functionality was broken after the August 2015 CU for SharePoint 2013 is installed in your farm but we didn’t expect it to remain the same even after patching our farm with Jan 2016 CU . As we were helpless we decided to open a case with Microsoft premier support and that’s when things started getting interesting. Microsoft analyzed all the logs and informed us that the same behavior was identified for SharePoint online portals too and an internal fix was rolled out by Microsoft sometime around August 2015 and was later globally deployed on September 2015. So SharePoint online users will never see this issue.  But looks like this fix was not involved on any further CU‘s for SharePoint server 2013.  However, the same fix was also applied for SharePoint server 2016 in May 2016 CU for SharePoint server 2016 where the error was something like this ….

FollowedCountsWebPart.GetHybridSpoUrl (UserProfile profile)”

So now the only problem is with SharePoint server 2013 as the fix has not been developed for this yet.  If you take a look at the “Improvement and fixes section” for Feb 2016 CU for SharePoint server 2013 you will notice a fix for a “follow” issue but that doesn’t look similar to our scenario here. That speaks about the “follow” functionality getting broken on a multi-farm environment. Check the screenshot below ….

follow 2.png

But the support engineer said that the same fix should work for this scenario also, however he is yet to check with the PG team on that.  As per the latest update from the support engineer our case is being taken over by the PG team for their review.  I’ll write an update on my blog site once I hear back from Microsoft.

How badly can AV scanning impact your SharePoint farm’s performance?

In this post I’ll be talking about an issue which we recently encountered in one of our customer’s SharePoint 2010 environment. Let me talk about the issue first, then how we fixed it and later the lessons we learned from it.

Issue we faced:

Couple of days back we received huge number of support incidents from users across the globe stating that they were not able to access the SharePoint portal .For some reason the issue was intermittent , the site used to load fine at times and all of sudden it stopped loading . We decided to login to each WFE servers in the farm and identify which was throwing the bad request .Listed below are the steps which we did initially to identify the root cause ….

Troubleshooting steps done by us initially:

  1. Tried loading the problematic site from our end and checked whether we’re able to reproduce the issue from our end.
  2. Once we confirmed that we were able to reproduce the issue we changed the host file entry to point to all the WFE’s in the farm and tried to load the site .This was done to identify which WFE server threw the bad request.
  3. During this process we happened to notice some abnormal behavior in two servers (i.e. WFE1 & WFE 2) of the SharePoint farm .The CPU/RAM utilization in these two servers were continuously hitting 100% and because of that all the requests going to these servers were failing. The server was almost in an unresponsive state.
  4. We took a look at the event viewer and found many entries related to Mcaffee Anti-virus software update process getting failed. Then I opened the Mcaffee console to understand what’s happening and as expected I could find many update failures .I pulled the Mcaffee logs and found many entries related to that.
  5. In addition to that we also noticed entries in the ULS logs about the SharePoint farm trying to run a configuration change by itself and it was also invoking an upgrade process. The w3wp.exe SharePoint worker process was also consuming heavy RAM.
  6. Now given the fact that we noticed so many weird entries in the logs we planned to reboot the server and see if that helped. Any yes it helped and the issue was no more.
  7. However, the server reboot was just a week around and we wanted to identify what exactly triggered this as we noticed some weird entries in the SharePoint logs about automatic configuration change and upgrade process .Hence we decided to open a support case with Microsoft for a detailed RCA.

Now let’s take a look on what Microsoft had to say to us about this issue ….

Troubleshooting steps done by Microsoft:

We captured the ULS logs on the exact time the issue was reported and shared the same to Microsoft (please note that this issue which we are currently talking about is a non-reproducible one, meaning: we were not able to reproduce the same behavior to Microsoft as this happened only once, after the server reboot everything looked normal). Microsoft analyzed the logs and this is what they found ….

A huge performance issue was identified as you can see in the logs image below:

1.png

AppDomain recycling was happening very frequently as you can see in the screenshot below:

2.png

3.png

The App domain recycling was happening on both the WFE’s as shown in the ULS logs screenshot below:

4.png

What we identified after analyzing the logs?

Now based on the above analysis we identified that the root cause of this issue was that the AppDomain recycle was happening very frequently. This is an isolation process within the W3WP process of the web application. This process went on recycling and that caused the performance issue of the environment.

The possible root cause for this App Domain recycle can be because of the below mentioned two reasons …

a) AV exclusions are not implemented in your SharePoint farm as per the article below. Certain folders may have to be excluded from antivirus scanning when you use file-level antivirus software in SharePoint

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/952167

b) The application restarts may occur in some situations if any processes accessing Web.config file in the root of the application, the Machine.config file, the Bin folder, or the Global. asax file.

In our case it’s the first one where we didn’t exclude the necessary files/folders from AV scanning and hence we decided to exclude the folders/files as mentioned in the aforementioned article. These are SharePoint system related files/folders and they have to excluded from AV scanning , else when a scheduled full scan kicks off in your SharePoint farm it will start scanning these files too and this will impact the performance of the SharePoint farm .

Lesson’s learned:

If you’re planning to install Antivirus software in your SharePoint farm, please make sure that all the folders mentioned in this article are excluded from getting scanned .These are SharePoint system related files & folders and every time the AV scan engine tries to scan these files it puts the farm on risk as the scanning process will interfere SharePoint’s operation .

Thanks for reading this post!!!   Happy SharePointing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Useful Office 365 cmdlets to generate SharePoint Online reports and also for SharePoint Online site administration:

Followed to my previous article about useful office 365 cmdlets in SharePoint Online, in this article I’ll be showing you some more useful PowerShell cmdlets to generate SharePoint Online reports /SharePoint Online site administration. I see a lot of misconception with my fellow SharePoint workers on understanding the difference between SharePoint on-premises cmdlets and Office 365(SharePoint Online) cmdlets, please note that they all don’t have the same functionality even though they almost look similar. There is a lot of difference in what they exactly do, so please pay close attention while utilizing them.

1

So let’s get into the real meats and potatoes now…

  1. To create a new SPO Site collection:

SyntaxNew-SPOSite -Url https://vigx.sharepoint.com/sites/Vignesh -Title “Vignesh” -Owner “vigganesan89@vigx.onmicrosoft.com” -Template “STS#0” -TimeZoneId 10 -StorageQuota 200

2

Note: In the above mentioned command you need to specify the URL of your new site collection, Title Name, Template ID, Time Zone and Storage quota size. Please check my previous article on SharePoint Online command to get to know about SharePoint Online Template ID’s

Running this command will create a new site collection in SPO and you can verify this in your SPO admin center as shown below.

3

2.To list the groups, and all the group memberships, for all of your SharePoint Online sites.

Syntax:

$x = Get-SPOSite

 

foreach ($y in $x)

    {

        Write-Host $y.Url -ForegroundColor “Yellow”

        $z = Get-SPOSiteGroup -Site $y.Url

        foreach ($a in $z)

            {

                 $b = Get-SPOSiteGroup -Site $y.Url -Group $a.Title

                 Write-Host $b.Title -ForegroundColor “Cyan”

                 $b | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Users

                 Write-Host

            }

    }

Running the above mentioned command will display the results as shown below,

4.png

3.To list the groups, and all the group memberships, for a single site collection:

Syntax:

First let me assign the $siteURL variable to the site collection in question.

$siteURL = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test”–> Site in question.

$siteURL = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test&#8221;

$x = Get-SPOSiteGroup -Site $siteURL

foreach ($y in $x)

    {

        Write-Host $y.Title -ForegroundColor “Yellow”

        Get-SPOSiteGroup -Site $siteURL -Group $y.Title | Select-Object -ExpandProperty Users

        Write-Host

    }

Running this command will display the results as shown below .

5

 4.To lock a SharePoint Online site:

SyntaxSet-SPOSite -Identity $site -Lockstate NoAccess

Specify the $site variable to the site which you want to lock.

6

Running this command will lock the site and when you try to access it you will get a 403 Forbidden error.

5.To unlock as SharePoint Online site:

Syntax:  Set-SPOSite -Identity $site -Lockstate Unlock

7.png

This will unlock the site that we just locked in the previous command.

6.To disable external sharing for a SharePoint Online site collection:

Syntax:

$siteURL = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test”–> Site in question

Set-SPOSite -Identity $siteURL -SharingCapability Disabled

8.png

You can verify this in your SharePoint Online admin center as shown in the image below. The site in question will have external sharing disabled as shown below.

9

7.To enable external user and guest sharing:

Syntax:

Set-SPOSite -Identity $siteURL -SharingCapability ExternalUserandGuestSharing

10.png

Running this command will enable external user and guest sharing in a SPO site collection and you can verify that in the screenshot below.

11.png

Note: By default, this feature will be disabled for SPO sites and this has to be enabled if required.

8.To enable only external user sharing:

Syntax:  Set-SPOSite -Identity $siteURL -SharingCapability ExternalUserSharingOnly

12.png

 Running this command will only enable external user sharing in a SPO site collection and you can verify that in the screenshot below.

15.png

9.To get the list of sites where sharing capability has been enabled:

Syntax:    Get-SPOSite | Where {$_.SharingCapability -ne “Disabled”}

13

  1. To get the list of sites where sharing capability is disabled:

Syntax:  Get-SPOSite | Where {$_. SharingCapability -eq “Disabled”}

14.png

 11.To change the owner of site:

Syntax:

First let me assign the $siteURL variable to the site collection in question.

$siteURL = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test”–> Site in question

Set-SPOSite -Identity $siteURL -Owner “pritham@vigx.onmicrosoft.com”

16

12.To change the storage and resource quota of a site:

Syntax:

Set-SPOSite -Identity $siteURL -StorgaeQuota 1000 -ResourceQuota 500

13.To change the Title of the site:

Syntax:

Set-SPOSite $siteURL -Title “New Title”

17.png

This will change the title of the site in question. You can verify this below.

18.png

Thanks for reading this article. This is all I have for this post and I’ll be back with Part 3 of this article very soon.

Happy SharePointing !!!

Part 1: Useful Office 365 cmdlets to generate SharePoint Online reports and also for SharePoint Online site administration:

Presentation1.png

In this post I’ll be showing you how to use Office 365 PowerShell cmdlets to generate useful SharePoint Online reports from your SharePoint Online tenant and also I’ll be discussing on certain useful cmdlets that can be used for SharePoint Online site administration. Let’s get started.

Note: Before we get started, please ensure that you’ve configured your PC to run SharePoint Online (Office 365) cmdlets. If not, please take a look on this article which I’ve already written about how to configure that. Also make sure that you’re a member of the SharePoint Online administration role in Office 365.

  1. Get-SPOSite -Detailed

This command will give a detailed list of all the site collections in your SharePoint Online tenant as shown in the screenshot below.

1.png

2. To get a list of SharePoint groups in your tenant.

Syntax:   Get-SPOSite | ForEach-Object {Get-SPOSiteGroup -Site $_.Url} |Format-Table 

Running this command will generate the results as shown in the image below. Also please note that this command will display the default SharePoint groups as well as the custom SharePoint groups that was created manually.

2.png

3.png

3. Adding a user to the Site collection administrators group.

Before I go ahead and show the syntax for this, let me go ahead specify the variables here so that it will be easy for us to use that in the command.

$tenant =  “https://vigx-admin.sharepoint.com “–>This would be my tenant URL

$site = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test” –>This will be the SharePoint site collection URL

$user =” kamaleshg@vigx.onmicrosoft.com” –> This will be the UPN for the user who will be added as the SCA.

Since we have already specified all the variables, let’s go ahead and run the syntax.

SyntaxSet-SPOUser -Site $site -LoginName kamaleshg@vigx.onmicrosoft.com -IsSiteCollectionAdmin $true

Check the screenshot below for reference:

4.png

5.png

So this will add the user to the SCA group of  a site collection.

4. To get the list of users in my SharePoint Online Tenant:

Syntax:  Get-SPOSite | ForEach-Object {Get-SPOUser -Site $_.Url} 

Running this command will display the results as shown in the screenshot below.

replace.PNG

 

 

5.To get a report of the user’s in a site, their display names, permission levels and other properties:

Before I go ahead and execute the command for this, let me specify the $site variable for the site in question.

$site = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test” –>This will be the SharePoint site URL

Note: It’s not necessary that you need to keep specifying the variables every time in a command unless you’re planning to use a different value apart to the one specified for that variable. PowerShell will automatically store it for you till the session is live.

Syntax:  Get-SPOUser -Site $site | select * | Format-table -Wrap -AutoSize | Out-File G:\UsersReport.txt -Force -Width 360 -Append

8.png

Running this command will generate a report as shown in the screenshot below.

9.png6. To get a report of the all user’s in your SharePoint Online Tenant, their display names, permission levels and other properties

$tenant =  “https://vigx-admin.sharepoint.com “–> This would be my tenant URL

Syntax:

Get-SPOSite | ForEach-Object {Get-SPOUser -Site $_.Url} | Format-Table -Wrap -AutoSize | Out-File G:\UsersReport.txt -Force -Width 360 -Append

10.png

Note: PowerShell might throw you some errors while running this command but that can be safely ignored.

Running this command will generate a report as shown below.

11.png

If you want to export the result to a CSV file, try running the below mentioned command.

Command 1 : For setting the headers in the CSV file

“Display Name`tLoginName`tGroups” | Out-File C:\UsersReport.csv

 12.png

Command 2: Once you’re done executing the first line, run the below syntax to get the report in the form a CSV file.

Syntax:

Get-SPOSite | ForEach-Object {Get-SPOUser -Site $_.Url -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue | %{ $_.DisplayName + “`t” + $_.LoginName

 + “`t” + $_.Groups | Out-File c:\UsersReport.csv -Force -Append}}

13

This will generate a CSV file as shown in the image below,

14.png

 7. To create a new SharePoint Group in a site collection.

Before I mention the syntax, let’s specify the necessary variables.

$tenant = “https://vigx-admin.sharepoint.com” –>Tenant URL

$site = “https://vigx.sharepoint.com/teams/test “–> Site collection URL

$group = “Test Site Owners2” –>SharePoint Group Name

$level = “Full Control” –> Permission level

Syntax:

New-SPOSiteGroup -Group $group -PermissionLevels $level -Site $site

15.png

Running the above command will create a new SharePoint Group in the targeted site collection and will give the results as shown below.

16.png

8. To create an inventory of all the SharePoint site collections in your Tenant which has the information of the Site Name, URL, Quota, compatibility level and other information etc.… and to export the results to a CSV file:

Syntax:

Get-SPOSite -Detailed | Export-CSV -LiteralPath G:\SiteInventory.csv -NoTypeInformation

17.png

Running this command will generate a CSV file in specified path as shown in the image below.

18.png

 9. To get your SharePoint Online Tenant information

Syntax: Get-SPOTenant

This will give the complete tenant information as shown in the image below.

19.png

  1. To get the list of site templates in your SharePoint Online tenant

Syntax: Get-SPOWebTemplate

Running this command will give the list of site templates in SharePoint Online as shown below

20.png

This concludes part 1 of this article, I’ll be creating part 2 of this article where I’ll be taking you through few more SharePoint Online PowerShell cmdlets that can help us to generate useful reports and also for site administration.

Thanks for reading this post.

Happy SharePointing!!!  

Microsoft Life cycle Support for SharePoint Server 2007 , 2010 & 2013:

SharePoint Version Lifecycle Start Date Mainstream Support end date Extended Support End Date Service Pack Support End Date Points to Note
SharePoint Server 2007 1/27/2007  10/9/2012 10/10/2017 1/13/2009  
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 7/15/2010 10/13/2015 10/13/2020 7/10/2012  
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Service Pack 1 6/28/2011 Not Applicable Not Applicable 10/14/2014  
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Service Pack 2 7/23/2013 Review Note Review Note   Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. For more information, please see the service pack policy atgp_lifecycle_servicepacksupport.
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 1/9/2013 4/10/2018 4/11/2023 4/14/2015  
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1 2/25/2014 Review Note Review Note   Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product’s support lifecycle, whichever comes first. For more information, please see the service pack policy atgp_lifecycle_servicepacksupport.