When to perform a Search full crawl in SharePoint 2013?

Search is indeed a mission critical component in SharePoint 2013 and it’s very important that it functions properly so that you get the desired results. As we all know, the search results and their relevancy is directly proportional to how often your content sources are crawled and what sort of crawling you’re running in your SharePoint farm (i.e. full crawl, incremental crawl and continuous crawl). So, in this post I’m not going to discuss about the different type of search crawls or the SharePoint 2013 search architecture, perhaps I would be discussing on when and under what circumstances should a SharePoint administrator perform a full search crawl. The reason for me picking up this topic is because I see a lot of misconception among SharePoint administrators in understanding when the Search full crawl has to be performed. For the most part, I’ve seen many folks turning on full crawl when it’s not required at all and before doing so we need to understand that turning on Search full crawl is going to consume a lot of your server’s resource and at worst case it could even make your SharePoint farm go to an unresponsive state and hence it’s very important that we do this only when it’s required.

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Alright, let’s get into the details ….

Listed below are the reasons why and under what circumstances should a SharePoint farm Administrator perform a full search crawl:

1.You just created a new Search Service application and the default content source (i.e. Local SharePoint sites) that gets created along with the newly created Search service application hasn’t been crawled yet.

22. You recently added a new content source and it hasn’t been crawled yet (Note: This is applicable for all the types of content sources (i.e. Local SharePoint sites, File shares, Exchange public folders and External line of business data)

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3.When there has been, a change made to the existing content source (meaning, when you’re trying to edit the existing content source for making some changes)

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4.When you’re patching your SharePoint 2013 farm by installing a Cumulative update, Service packs and hot-fixes etc. For some reason I see a lot dilemma on this specific point because it brings up a question on why should a full crawl be performed post the patching .The reason for this is really simple ,  if you read my article on patching a SharePoint farm you would notice that I’ve mentioned a step where you need to suspend the search crawl before patching your farm and the reason for mentioning that is because it’s quite possible that when you check the crawling schedule  before patching you farm there may not be any instance of crawl running. However, if a crawl is triggered by schedule which occurs during the installation, the search application may crash or lead to inadvertent results. In worst case, you might end up rebuilding the entire search application. Hence, as a best practice it’s very important that you suspend the search service application before patching your farm and once you’re done with patching your farm please go ahead and resume it and run a full crawl.

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5.When changes have been made to managed properties in search. A full crawl of all affected content sources is required for the new or changed managed property to take effect.

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6.If you want to detect security changes that were made to local groups on a file share after the last full crawl of the file share

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7.When the incremental crawl keeps failing continuously. If an incremental crawl fails many consecutive times for any content, the system removes the affected content from the search index. In such case, please look into the search crawl logs and try to identify the issue and fix it after which you need to run a search full crawl so that the failed content gets updated in the search index.

8.If you have made some changes to the search Crawl rules such as adding, deleting or modifying the crawl rule.

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9.When your search index gets corrupted you need to perform a search index reset after which you need to run a full search crawl. Please check my article on search index reset to understand how to perform an index reset and under what circumstances should you be performing a search index reset.

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10.The permissions given to the default content access account has been changed.

11. Apart from the above mentioned one’s the system by itself would be performing a search full crawl even when an incremental or continuous crawl is scheduled under the following circumstances:

   a)The SharePoint administrator stopped the previous crawl.

    b)A content database was restored, or a farm administrator has detached and reattached a content database.

    c) A full crawl of the content source has never been done from this Search service application.

     d)The crawl database does not contain entries for the addresses that are being crawled. Without entries in the crawl database for the items being crawled, incremental crawls cannot occur.

Thanks for reading this post. Happy SharePointing!!!

Sync button missing in SharePoint Online doc library -Project site template:

Alright, so this article is going to be a simple one where I’ll be sharing my recent experience with SharePoint Online where the ‘’Sync Button “which you see on the document library went missing all of a sudden. If you’re not sure about what I’m talking, this image below should help you understand.

Sync 1.pngSo couple of days back ,  a user  who’s always known for finding bugs in SharePoint called me and said , ‘”Hey the Sync button is missing in SharePoint Online doc library ….” . I felt like, that’s not possible and I wanted to double check that. So I went ahead and took a look at the document library on a SharePoint Online team site and found that nothing is wrong with the “Sync button” and it was showing up perfectly fine.

So I took a look at the URL which he was referring to and found that it was missing which was really bizarre to me. Upon digging further I found that the site which he was referring to was a “Project Site “and the one which I tried first was a “Team site”. Now things got really interesting and I did some testing to isolate this issue. I tried reproducing this issue in different site templates and found that this was something specific to “Project site “(top level sites as well as subsites that make use of Project site template) alone. As this is on SharePoint Online I raised a premier support case to know what Microsoft had to say about this. The support engineer checked with the product group team and informed that this is a bug which was caused post the “New Experience” rollout which was released by MS few months back and it seems that many customers have already reported this issue to them.

If you’re hearing this for the first time, please take a look at this link below to understand this feature named “New Experience”.

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Switch-the-default-experience-for-lists-or-document-libraries-from-new-or-classic-66dac24b-4177-4775-bf50-3d267318caa9?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

Finally, based on my testing what I identified is listed below:

  1. On SharePoint Online Team sites, I don’t see this issue. Please check the image below …

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2. On SharePoint Online Project sites, I can see this issue .Please check the image below (the sync button is missing)….

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Note: MS has checked and confirmed that this issue is a known bug and will take at-least 3 to 6 months to get this fixed. Also as per MS it seems that this issue persists on other site templates also apart from “Project sites “.However, I didn’t get a chance to try them yet. So just in case you get a call or may be an email from users about this issue, please be informed that this is a known bug at the moment and will be fixed in 3 to 6 months’ time.

Workaround:  The workaround for this is to…. Go to the library settings –> Go to advanced settings –>Change the option in the list experience from New to Classic experience as shown in the image below. By doing so you’re switching back to previous document library experience.

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Once you do that, you will notice the “Sync button” on a SharePoint Online Project site document library as shown in the image below.

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Thanks for reading this post…. I hope this would save your time in troubleshooting this issue.  Happy SharePointing!!!

 

Resetting Search Index in SharePoint 2013:

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Search is indeed a mission critical service application in SharePoint and it’s very important that it remains healthy so that you get the results in the Search center whenever you execute a search query. However, it’s quite possible that you may notice some errors in the “Crawl log” stating that the crawler is not able to crawl the contents in the content source and at times it might get even worse such that you may notice all “failures” and no “success” in the crawl logs. In scenarios like that you might have to reset the search index so that the content in the index gets flushed away after which you need to perform a full crawl so that search index component receives the newly processed items from the content processing component and writes them to the search index. Of course, directly resetting the index is not a fix for any search related issue, please ensure that you do all the necessary troubleshooting steps from your end to identify and fix the issue and once you reach a point where nothing really helped, that’s when you should think about resetting the search index.

What happens when you reset the Search Index?

When you reset the search index, all the contents will be immediately removed from the search index and users will not be able to retrieve search results when they execute a search query on the search center.  Once you’re done resetting the search index, you must perform a full crawl on one or more content sources to create a new search index. Users will be able to retrieve search results again once the full crawl is finished and the new search index is created. So in a nutshell there will be a downtime when the search index is getting reset. After a search index reset, the full crawl won’t restore all the analytics features that are powered by the Analytics Processing Component. All the analytics results will be erased after resetting the search index.

When we should reset the search index?

As I already mentioned above, resetting the search index should be the final step of troubleshooting for any search related issue. However, based on my experience this when we should reset the search index ….

  1. Index is corrupted
  2. One or all index component status is degraded
  3. You crawl completed successfully but you are not getting the search results.
  4. When you move the index location
  5. When Index location run out of space.
  6. In a scenario where we have Index partitions spread across multiple servers and the indexed document count is out of sync. For example, we have 2 servers set as index partitions, server 1 has 150K indexed documents and server2 has 145k index documents
  7. If we make any changes to search topology such as removing the search components ,adding the components & activating a different search topology

 Alright, now let’s take a look at the steps to reset the search index …

Pre-requisites: 

Please ensure that you take care of the below mentioned pre-requisites before resetting the search index .Failing to do so will cause adverse effects and at worst case you may end up recreating the entire search service application.

  1. Make sure the crawl status for each content source is “Idle”. If any crawl is running, wait for the crawl to complete or follow the steps to “Stop the active crawls” below.
  2. Make sure continuous crawl for content sources is disabled [if applicable].This step is only specific to SharePoint 2013 and above.
  3. Make sure the crawl rate is 0
  4. Make sure background activity status is “None” on search administration page.

Stopping the Active Crawl(s):

  1. Navigate to search administration page.
  2. Click on Content Sources link towards your left hand side as shown in the image below.

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3. If any content source is crawling, click on the drop down of the content source and click on “Stop Crawl”.

Disable Continuous Crawl:

  1. Navigate to search administration page.
  2. Navigate to Content Sources link appearing on quick launch.

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3. Click on the drop down and select “Disable Continuous Crawl” to disable it.

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4. Click “Ok” when below warning message appears.

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5. Follow the same steps to disable continuous crawl for other content sources. Finally, all the content sources would show “Idle” status as shown in the image below.

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Suspend Search Service Application:

This step is to ensure that there is no crawling activity in place while we perform the Index reset.

  1. Open SharePoint Management Shell using service account
  2. Run the below command.

Suspend-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication “Search Service Application Name”

Note: If you don’t know the name of search service application, you can get it by running below command before executing the above command.

Get-SPServiceApplication | Where-Object {$_.TypeName –eq “Search Service Application”}

After suspending the search application, search administration page will show the status as “Paused for: External request” as shown in the image below.

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 Ensure Crawl Rate is 0:

  1. Navigate to search administration page.
  2. Check the Recent Crawl rate.

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Ensure Crawler Background Activity is none:

  1. Navigate to search administration page.
  2. Check the status of the Crawler background activity and ensure it shows as “none” as shown in the image below.

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Once the necessary pre-requisites are taken care, please follow the below steps to perform an Index Reset.

There are 2 ways to perform Index reset.

Using UI [User Interface]: This method can be used when the indexed content in your farm is not much in size i.e. index size is not huge and also when you don’t have large content sources.

Using PowerShell: UI method is not recommended for SharePoint farms with large search index. [i.e. huge count of searchable/indexed documents]. Using the UI method in large farms for resetting the search index can result in time out error. In such cases, we need to use PowerShell method to reset the index.

USING UI:

  1. Navigate to SharePoint Central Administration.
  2. Under “Application Management” category, click on “Manage Service Applications”.
  3. Find out “Search Service Application” and click on the Search service application.
  4. In the quick launch, click on “Index Reset

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5. Click on confirm once done .

USING POWERSHELL:

  1. Login to the SharePoint server using Administrator credentials.
  2. Open “SharePoint management shell” with elevated permissions.
  3. Run the below command to reset search index.

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Post Index Reset Steps:

  1. Check whether the number of searchable items is 0.
  2. Resume the search service application by running the command shown in the screenshot below.

133. Enable “continuous crawl” for the content sources if it was enabled prior to index reset.

4. Run full crawl for the content sources one by one.

This confirms that you’re done resetting the Search index successfully and please keep monitoring the full crawl and ensure that it doesn’t get stuck in the middle. The time duration for the full crawl depends on the size of the content source, if you have very large content sources then it might take days for the full crawl to complete successfully. Once done, please verify the search results and ensure that they return fine. Also check the “Crawl log” and make sure you’re not seeing any errors this time.

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

Is it worth choosing SharePoint over file server?

 

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

SharePoint Online limits across different Office 365 plans:

SharePointOnline2L-1

Found this good article on Tech Target Network about SharePoint Online limitations and wanted to share it with you guys ….

Depending on the Office 365 plan your business uses, there are several SharePoint Online limits to keep in mind when planning a SharePoint migration.

As with most software as a service deployments, Microsoft imposes limits on the SharePoint Online service across its various Office 365 plans. Organizations with the appropriate service plan can typically work within those limitations, but it’s important for IT planners to recognize restrictions in advance and ensure that any migration from a local SharePoint deployment to SharePoint Online will remain within the established limits. Otherwise, the online migration may experience problems or incur unexpected premium costs for additional resources.

SharePoint Online limits typically involve storage and maximums in the number of items, users, subsites and file sizes. Consider SharePoint Online in Office 365 Business Premium, which offers base storage of 10 GB per tenant plus up to 500 MB per subscribed user; additional storage can be purchased for a fee. For example, a business with 5,000 users would see a storage limit of about 2.5 TB. This might sound like a lot, but storage-intensive file collections across many users can easily consume a significant portion of that capacity. Other factors like Recycle Bin storage can also count against storage limits.

The Office 365 Business Premium plan imposes other limits such as up to 1 TB per site collection or group document library, synchronizing up to 5,000 items — such as folders and files — in site libraries, synchronizing up to 20,000 items in the OneDrive for Business library, and handling up to 500,000 site collections where each site collection can support up to 2,000 subsites. Users can upload files as large as 2 GB per file, but can only attach files up to 250 MB.

There are also SharePoint Online limits on site elements such as lists and libraries, pages and security. For example, a single wiki or webpage can only contain up to 25 Web parts, and a single user can belong to up to 5,000 security groups. Such limits may require changes to existing local SharePoint resources before migration.

The limits for other plans such as SharePoint Online in Office 365 Enterprise, Education and Government may differ from the Business Essentials or Business Premium plans. It’s always important to check the needs of your SharePoint deployment against the preferred plan to ensure that you’re getting the most appropriate and cost-effective service. It’s also worth checking the site elements to see which, if any, sites or wikis may require changes.

Useful tools for SharePoint Practitioners:

This post brings you a list of useful tools which every SharePoint Practitioner should make use of to make his day to day life easier. I personally don’t know any of the developers who developed these tools so I’m not trying to do some marketing stuff for these tools. I just wanted to share the list with you guys so that you could get benefited out of it.

Note: There are hundreds of paid/free third party tools out there to administer/manage SharePoint and I have not really tried a lot of them .The list which I’ve put together below is something which I’ve been using for quite some time now and just wanted to let you guys know that these tools have been vetted carefully during usage and they are not potentially harmful by any means, plus they are free of cost too and most of them are from code plex.

 

  1. ULS Viewer

A windows application for viewing SharePoint ULS log files more easily. Supports filtering and easy viewing of data.

Download Link: _ https://ulsviewer.codeplex.com/

 

  1. SharePoint Manager

The SharePoint Manager 2013 is a SharePoint object model explorer. It enables you to browse every site on the local farm and view every property. Please be mindful that you should have this tool running on a machine which has SharePoint installed on it.

Download Link: _ https://spm.codeplex.com/

 

  1. Fiddler

The Fiddler tool helps you debug web applications by capturing network traffic between the Internet and test computers. The tool enables you to inspect incoming and outgoing data to monitor and modify requests and responses before the browser receives them. Fiddler also includes a powerful event-based scripting subsystem, which you can extend by using any .NET Framework language.

Download Link: _ http://www.telerik.com/fiddler

  1. Network Monitor

Network Monitor tool can be used for capturing network traffic and protocol analysis.

Download Link: _ https://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=4865

 

  1. WinDirStat

WinDirStat is a disk usage statistics viewer and cleanup tool for various versions of Microsoft Windows.

Download Link: _ https://windirstat.info/index.html

 

  1. SharePoint Log Viewer

SharePoint Log Viewer is a Windows application for reading and filtering Microsoft SharePoint ULS Logs.

Key Features:

  • View multiple SharePoint log files at once
  • Search by any field
  • Filter the log by any field
  • File drag & drop support
  • Live monitoring for entire farm
  • Export filtered log entries
  • Bookmark log entries
  • Get popup notification of SharePoint log events from system tray
  • Receive email notifications on errors
  • Redirect log entries to event log
  • Supports SharePoint 2007, 2010 and 2013

 

Download Link: _ https://sharepointlogviewer.codeplex.com/

 

  1. SharePoint Feature Administration and Clean Up Tool :

Feature Administration is a tool for SharePoint administrators and developers to manage SP features. It finds and cleans faulty Feature Definitions and orphaned reminders.

The Feature Admin Tool finds faulty Feature Definitions and cleanly uninstalls them.
It finds feature remainders in sites, Site Collections, WebApps and in the Farm, caused e.g. by forcefully uninstalled Features from a farm without deactivating them before. These faulty features, never visible, cause errors.

Download Link: _ https://featureadmin.codeplex.com/

 

  1. SharePoint Command Builder :

As the name implies, you can use this tool to build SharePoint PowerShell commands that can simplify your daily work.

Link: _ https://www.microsoft.com/resources/TechNet/en-us/Office/media/WindowsPowerShell/WindowsPowerShellCommandBuilder.HTML

  1. SharePoint Manager 2013 Online :

If you’re using SharePoint Online, then this tool could be your best friend. SharePoint Manager 2013 Online, provides the user a quick and easy overview of the structure and data hidden behind the scenes. Unlike the server version on codeplex, this app only uses html and JavaScript leveraging the SharePoint REST API. The well-known navigation tree on the left side and a property panel on the right side deliver an extremely user-friendly interface, which allows the user to burrow into SharePoint Online structure and hidden gems.

Download Link: _ https://store.office.com/sharepoint-manager-2013-online-WA104025157.aspx?assetid=WA104025157

 

  1. SharePoint 2013 Search Query Tool:

After running the query, you can view all types of result sets returned; Primary Results, Refinement Results, Query Rules Results, Query Suggestions, in addition to the actual raw response received from the Search service.

This can be used both with SharePoint 2013 on-premises and SharePoint Online. I also explained in detail the usage of this tool in a previous blog post. Click here to read that.

Download Link: _ http://sp2013searchtool.codeplex.com/

 

 

  1. SharePoint Host name site collection creator :

The SharePoint Host named Site Collection (HNSC) Creator SharePoint Admins to create HNSC via a GUI instead of PowerShell. This can be used by two ways. One of them is a Windows Forms application that needs no installation, and the second one is a SharePoint 2013 farm solution that plugs in the Central Admin for a native SharePoint experience

Download Link: _ https://hnsc.codeplex.com/

 

  1. SharePoint Designer :

Microsoft SharePoint Designer (SPD), formerly known as Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer, is a discontinued HTML editor freeware specialized in creating or modifying Microsoft SharePoint sites, workflows and web pages. It is a part of Microsoft SharePoint family of products.

Please note that Microsoft has announced that SharePoint 2016 will not have SP Designer 2016 .That has been discontinued in the 2016 version.

Download link: _ https://www.microsoft.com/en-in/download/details.aspx?id=35491

13. Advanced REST Client plugin for Google Chrome:

SharePoint Developers would probably know the power of this tool . There’s an awesome plugin for Chrome called Advanced REST Client which allows you to investigate the REST calls and configure your queries pretty simply through the UI. You get to see the results and the request times directly in the browser and you can play with the parameters etc easily

Download link :_https://github.com/jarrodek/ChromeRestClient

14.  SharePoint Client Browser for SharePoint Online and SharePoint on premises:

Remote SharePoint development is getting more important. Especially with SharePoint Apps. To speed up development, find hidden lists/items/documents, discover the structure or specific artifact properties use the SharePoint Client Browser which supports SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint Online (Office 365)

Uses of this tool?

  • Get insight in your site collection structure
  • Find hidden lists, items or documents
  • Discover artifact properties
  • Easily start PowerShell, via context menu, and run (scripted) queries against your remote site collection
  • Support for both SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013
  • Connect to on-premise or SharePoint Online (Office 365) site collections
  • No installer
  • Remote access from your desktop to site collection via Client Side Object Model (CSOM)
  • Can run remote, no need to run on the SharePoint server itself

Download link : _ https://spcb.codeplex.com