5 reasons why your SharePoint environment may not be performing
If you are running older versions of SharePoint, there can be many reasons why your SharePoint environment may not be working or performing to full capacity. From Timer job failures to SharePoint Search problems, these issues can cause an onslaught of complaints from end-users, who are frustrated about SharePoint’s slow performance, and increased frustration of the SharePoint Admin, who are constantly using up time and resource to fix seemingly basic issues.
In this post, we’ll outline the top five SharePoint environment problems that we have encountered, and provide some quick tips on how to resolve, or prevent them from happening in the future.
Timer job failures
SharePoint 2013 has 155 out of the box timer jobs which keep a SharePoint environment functioning and performing. On top of that, many custom SharePoint solutions add additional timer jobs to the list. However, quite often, these timer jobs are not monitored or checked at all. As timer jobs run at the background, users won’t notice any issue initially until it impacts SharePoint applications.
Recently we helped one of our clients resolve an interesting issue. The timer job of the “Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Import” failed to run. With insufficient SharePoint knowledge within their IT support team, no investigation was carried out. As a result, the usage logs kept growing on their web servers until it filled up the disk drive with more than 60GB logs, and the SharePoint application stopped functioning which caused unnecessary operational and IT issues.
To resolve the issue we restarted the SharePoint Timer Service, and the timer job of “Microsoft SharePoint Foundation Usage Data Import” started to work, which released more than 50GB logs from the disk drive.
SharePoint Search issues
SharePoint Search is one of the key functionalities within all versions of SharePoint. Nowadays, the majority of SharePoint applications are built upon the SharePoint search feature to surface data to the home page or landing page for performance benefits. This makes it even more important to make sure the SharePoint Search related services are working as expected within your SharePoint farm. Otherwise, users may use the out of date data without noticing.
In many cases that we come across, SharePoint Search issues only lie in a specific area of the SharePoint site. Although the search query does seem to surface the recently updated content, sometimes results will exclude content from a specific subsite.
How do you detect SharePoint Search issues? Well, quite often end users or administrators just assume the search works across all sites and that anything not in the search result simply doesn’t exist. This is not the case.
In a recent example, we helped a client who was experiencing issues with their Index Engine that was stuck on the crawling status for more than a week. Quite often the SharePoint administrator is the last person to find out the issue until the end users raise a ticket with their IT support department.
User Profile Sync service
User profile sync is another key functionality in SharePoint and quite often, it’s linked with the Active Directory service.
We had a client recently that configured their User Profile to sync back to Active Directory as they saw SharePoint the source of truth for user details and wanted the users to be responsible for updating their profile. In taking this step, the changes are automatically written back to Active Directory properties and in doing so it saves IT administrator’s the time of updating Active Directory user details manually.
It sounded a good idea until the sync service stopped working and they tried to restore the backup database, guess what? The old profile data were synced to their Active Directory. Painful, isn’t it?
The general lack of understanding the limitations or boundaries of SharePoint features can sometimes lead to the failure of the SharePoint application.
The application generally works well with a small set of users and contents. To draw on a recent piece of work undertaken by the SharePoint support team for a client, we found that as time went on, more and more content was created on the site and the application started struggling to perform. At this point we took a deeper look into the issue.
An obvious issue here is the 5k limit on a SharePoint list view. If more than 5k items were added to the list, it would throw an error when a user tried to browse the items in the list with the default view. To overcome the limitation, indexes need to be applied to certain columns and the list view may have to be re-designed.
What about the List View Lookup Threshold you ask? The client had managed to break all sorts of thresholds in a single list. SharePoint Lists were treated as database tables therefore, more and more lookup fields were added to the application. In fact, to combat this issue, some of the Lookup fields could easily be replaced by Choice fields.
In an ideal world, being able to identify which thresholds are approaching is the key to the success of your SharePoint farm, which gives you sufficient time to implement a fix or a different design.
The current version of SharePoint is no longer suitable for the demand
It’s hard to forecast the end-user demand of SharePoint accurately at the time of initial roll-out, and to be perfectly honest, it’s always going to be difficult to satisfy every user. But, the important thing here is that you need to monitor your system and carry out a regular SharePoint health check to ensure your environment is meeting end-user demands in an ever-evolving workplace.
Some clients we work with seem reluctant to invest time and resource into looking over the performance of their SharePoint systems. Ultimately, they end up investing more time and effort to fix the issues later on, and that’s not including the damage and impact that system problems have on lost productivity within the workforce.
SharePoint patching is a typical example as Microsoft releases security patches or other fixes frequently that are often overlooked.
We have had clients who have spent lots of time and internal resource to fix an issue, only to find out the issue has been addressed in the security patches. Not factoring in these patches, means that the SharePoint farm is running at risk of being exposed to a widely-known issue that is impacting that particular version of SharePoint.
Don’t forget, Microsoft support ceases to exist on 10th October 2017
You might be still running on SharePoint 2007 and thinking it is still working. Yes, it might be OK for now, but you could encounter an unfixable issue when Microsoft support runs out.
As with any major patching or upgrade to SharePoint – it is not a quick job. It requires an in-depth analysis of your SharePoint farm and meticulous planning to make sure changes are executed with minimal impact to your business. Remember that Microsoft’s extended support SharePoint 2007 ends on 10th October, 2017.
Ultimately, you don’t want to leave this until the last day. Speak to Content and Code today, and we can undertake a SharePoint health check for you for free.
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About our author
Technical Account Manager | Content and Code
Michael leads the DevOps team and is responsible for our Development On-Demand service prominently for SharePoint in Office 365, or on-premises. Michael has worked on a vast number of DevOps projects for clients large and small, often with complex and dynamic requirements.
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