Things to know about a Cumulative Update:

sharepoint2013

In addition to the SharePoint patching installation guide that was published by me few days back I’ve come up with a new article that gives a detailed description about what a Cumulative Update is all about and the things you need to know about a CU.

Please find the details below …

What is a CU?

A  CU (i.e. Cumulative Update) is a software package which includes fixes for problems with Microsoft products that have been reported by customers to Microsoft support in the form of support cases.

What is included?

As the name says, the updates/fixes that are included in the package are always Cumulative (meaning, it includes all the new and all previously released fixes (CUs and PUs) since the oldest supported service pack (within the first 12 months after a Service Pack has been released the CU includes also fixes released after the previous service pack).

How often does Microsoft release SharePoint Cumulative Updates?

Microsoft releases Cumulative Updates (CUs) once in every month.

How does Microsoft test Cumulative Updates before deployment?

All Cumulative Updates are tested extensively before each public release. If an issue, such as a regression, is discovered on a CU that could potentially impact the application, the CU will be cancelled and will be rescheduled to a later CU.

Are CU’s Multilingual?

Yes. The CU package includes fixes for all the languages. So no matter whatever language you download the CU package on, the fixes/updates in the package will remain the same.

What is the prerequisite?

The oldest supported service pack. For instance, all the SharePoint CU‘s post the SP1 release need the SP1 to be installed for SP 2013 .In case of SP 2010, all the CU’s that were released post SP2 need SP2 to be installed first after which you can install those CU’s .

When to install?

CU’s should only be installed to resolve specific issues fixed with the CUs as mentioned in each CU KB article: “Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problems described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.” Or if advised to install by Microsoft Support.

Impact on future fixes: In general, a CU is not a prerequisite of future CUs and PUs. However this may not be the case always .There has been few scenarios where a CU that was released few months back tends to become a pre-requisite for the later CU’s. So before installing any CU please take a look at the related KB article and make sure you have all the necessary pre-requisites in place.

Installation sequence: Installing the CU doesn’t require any specific order, you can do it on any server in the farm and then go on by installing it on other servers in the farm (meaning you can do it on the WFE server first and then on the APP server). Although it’s ok to go ahead and install the CU in any order on the server based on my experience with installing the CU I would suggest you to do it on the WFE server first. Ensure that the WFE is taken out of the Load balancer pool so that it’s not serving user traffic and then go ahead and install the CU and reboot the server. Once the server comes back online verify whether all the components have been installed correctly under Control Panel and the Central administration site is accessible. This is just to ensure that the installed CU didn’t do any harm to the server. It’s ok to lose a WFE but not a APP server, I hope you’re getting the idea here J .Also by any chance if you’re patching the farm on the business hours (which might ideally not be the case unless it’s a TEST /UAT farm) then make sure that the server on which you’re installing the CU is taken out of the load balancer so that the user traffic doesn’t goes to that server. So, the idea to keep in mind is, do it on the WFE servers first and then on the APP server.

Running the SharePoint Configuration Wizard:

Unlike the CU installation you can’t run the “SharePoint Configuration Wizard” in any order, it must be running on the server which is hosting “Central Administration” site first and then on the WFE and APP servers.  It’s a 6-step process which might take an hour at the max (in an ideal scenario) to run and complete. Once it’s completed successfully on the server where CA is hosted, please try opening the CA site and make sure everything looks fine and make sure you’re able to access the SharePoint sites. By any chance if the CA site is not coming up, please stop right there and fix it. Without fixing the CA site issue, please don’t proceed further with running the Configuration wizard on the other servers. This is the basic thumb rule to be followed while patching a SharePoint farm. You need to follow the same procedure for all the servers in the farm.

 

 

 

October 2016 CU for SharePoint Server 2013 CU is out :Fix for Follow count web part issue is included in this CU

Microsoft has released the October 2016 CU for SharePoint server 2013 and it’s available for download from the below mentioned link .

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3118366

As previously mentioned in my blog, the fix for the “Follow count web part” issue has been included on this CU. You can verify that by taking a look at the “Improvement and Fixes” section of this CU.

Improvement and Fixes: _ https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3118355

Please check this link to know in detail about the “Follow count web part” issue which got introduced in August 2015 CU. I’ve given a detailed explanation about this issue on a previous blog post .

So the bottom line here is , if you’re facing the “ Follow count web part “ issue in your environment where-in clicking on the “Follow count web part” throws you an error stating “Followed Count Web Part can’t be displayed because of null reference exception” then patching your environment with October 2016 CU should fix it .

Happy SharePointing !!!       Thanks for reading this post .

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!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 ….

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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:

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

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Search Service application components in SharePoint Server 2013:

 

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As you’re all aware ,there has been a major change in the search architecture on SharePoint Server 2013 when compared to SharePoint server 2010 and in this post I’ll  be discussing on the six different search service components in SharePoint 2013 .It’s very important that all these components are running fine without any issue for the Search service to function seamlessly and surface the results in the search page when a user executes a query in the search center.

Listed below are the six components available in SharePoint 2013 search service:

  1. Crawl Component
  2. Content processing component
  3. Indexing component
  4. Query processing component
  5. Analytics processing component
  6. Search administration component

 Now, let’s take a look on all these components separately …

1.Crawl Component :

This component takes care of crawling the content sources such as (SharePoint sites, websites & file shares etc…) and extracts the crawled properties and metadata and sends that to the content processing component.

2. Content processing component:

This component receives the information from the crawl component and then processes and sends it to the indexing component. It also interacts with the analytics processing component and is responsible for mapping crawled properties to the managed properties.

3. Indexing Component :

This component takes care of receiving the information from the content processing component and writes it to the search index. It also takes care of handling the queries and sends back the results to the Query processing component.

4. Query Processing Component:

This component handles incoming query requests and sends them to the indexing component for results. It also takes care of query optimization.

5. Analytics Processing Component :

This component takes care of analyzing what users are querying on and how they interact with the results.  This information is used to determine relevance, generate recommendations and also used for generating search reports.

6. Search administration Component:

This component manages administrative processes as well as changes to the search topology, such as adding or removing search components and servers.

Please note that these 6 search components can be distributed across multiple servers to provide high availability as well as improve performance as shown in the image below.

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Search service application databases:

  • Search Administration database :The Search Administration database hosts the Search service application configuration and handles crawl state orchestration, including the content source crawl history.
  • Analytics Reporting database :The Analytics Reporting database stores the results for usage analysis reports and extracts information from the Link database when needed.
  • Crawl Store database :The Crawl Store database stores the state of each crawled item and provides the crawl queue for items currently being crawled.
  • Link database :The Link database stores the information that is extracted by the content processing component and the click through information.

Thanks for reading this post. Happy SharePointing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steps to deploy a farm solution in a SharePoint Farm:

Steps to deploy a farm solution (wsp file) in a SharePoint Farm:

Please follow the steps below to deploy a “farm solution” in a SharePoint Farm (both 2010 & 2013). A farm solution is something that can have an impact on the entire farm when deployed and being a SharePoint Administrator you can activate this on a specific web application or (on multiple web applications if you use the full-trust model ).

  1. Login to the SharePoint WFE server using the “SharePoint Farm account “.
  2. Open the “SharePoint Management Shell “window with elevated permissions and type the below command as show in the screenshot.

“ Add-SPSolution –LiteralPath D:\WSP\SPD_SendEmailWithAttachment.wsp”

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Literal Path –>  Mention the folder path where you have saved the .wsp file.

SPD_SendEmailWithAttachment –> Here in this scenario the name of the wsp file that we are deploying is “SendEmailwithAttachment” and hence it has been named so.

WSP –> WSP stands for Windows SharePoint.

  1. Once you’re done typing the above command, hit “enter “and it will give you the details of the wsp file as shown below.

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4. Once you’re done with that, run the below mentioned command to get the details of the .wsp file. Please make sure you’re copying the solution ID properly.

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5. Now since you’re done with adding the farm solution, please go ahead and run the below mentioned command to install it. Please check the screenshot below for reference

“Install-SPSolution –Identity “solution ID” –GACDeployment”  (Solution ID would be the ID which you see in the screenshot below)

4.png

6. Finally, once you’re done installing the farm solution please navigate to “System settings” in Central Administration and click on “Manage farm solutions” as shown below.

5

7. Please check whether you’re able to see the wsp file that you currently deployed in the list of wsp files available there. In our scenario the wsp file name is “spd_sendemailwithattachment.wsp” and you can see that in the list of wsp files that has been deployed on the farm.

6.png

8. Since we have verified that the .wsp file has been deployed successfully, the next step would be to activate the feature on the web application. For this click on “Manage web applications” in Central Administration –>Select the web application on which you need to activate the feature –> click on Manage features on the top ribbon interface.

7.png

9. Finally check for the feature related to the solution that we deployed and click on activate (check screenshot below).

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Thanks for reading this post . Happy SharePointing!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SharePoint 2016 IT Pro certifications:

Sharepoint2016-670x380-670x380

 

Microsoft has announced the IT Pro certifications for SharePoint 2016 and they are expected to be  out by July this year . Take a look at this link below to know more about these certifications .

 

https://www.microsoft.com/en-sg/learning/course.aspx?cid=20339-1

https://www.microsoft.com/en-sg/learning/course.aspx?cid=20339-2

Useful SQL Queries for SharePoint Practitioners:

The SQL queries listed below can be very useful for SharePoint Farm administrators to manage/administer the SharePoint content databases .

Note: The queries mentioned below are not specific only to SharePoint databases and can be used with any SQL database.

1.To get the total number of space utilized by all the SharePoint databases in SQL server:

SELECT CONVERT(DECIMAL(10,2),(SUM(size * 8.00) / 1024.00 / 1024.00)) As UsedSpace
FROM master.sys.master_files

2.To get the name of all the SharePoint databases in a SQL instance :

Select * from Sys.Databases

3.To get the total number of space utilized by all the SharePoint databases in SQL server:

SELECT CONVERT(DECIMAL(10,2),(SUM(size * 8.00) / 1024.00 / 1024.00)) As UsedSpace

FROM master.sys.master_files

4.To find the space used by a SharePoint DB and its free size :

*Replace MY_DB with the concerned database name

use “MY_DB”
exec sp_spaceused

5.To find the size consumed by SharePoint Databases individually in SQL Server:

SELECT DB_NAME(database_id) AS DatabaseName,

 

Name AS Logical_Name,

 

Physical_Name, (size*8)/1024 SizeMB

 

FROM sys.master_files

6.To get the total number of SharePoint databases in the SQL server:

select  * from sys.databases

or

select  COUNT(*) from sys.databases

7.To find the path for SQL Server error logs:

sp_readerrorlog

8.To get the total number of site collections in a Web application :

select  count(*) as ‘Total Site Collection’ from sites

Note: Point to the content database hosting that site collection and run this query

9.To get the total number of sites in a web application :

select count(*) from Webs

Note: Point to the content database hosting that site collection and run this query

10.To get the Site Title and Site ID :

select Title as ‘Site title’,FullUrl, SiteId as ‘Site Collection Id’ from Webs order by SiteId

11.To get the number of sites under each site collection in a web application :

select SiteId, count(*) as ‘Total Sub Sites’ from Webs inner join Sites on Sites.Id = Webs.SiteId group by SiteId

Note: Point to the content database hosting that site collection and run this query

 

 

 

 

 

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