Slinger's Thoughts

March 29, 2013

OBD-II Diagnostics – When do you backup.

Filed under: Disaster Recovery, SharePoint — Tags: , , — slingeronline @ 7:56 am

In my last post I spoke about what needed to be backed up. In this one we will address something else that you need to consider in your disaster recovery plan – when.

Ideally you want to create a backup of your content when no one is using it.  Here’s part of why. If you start a backup at 8:00 am on Monday morning, you are probably going to have some unhappy users.  When you start a granular backup, using a 3rd party tool, or the built-in tools like Powershell or Central Administration, the first thing that SharePoint does is lock the Site Collection that is targeted in your backup.  (Doing full farm or database backups does not cause this behavior, but there are other limitations.) While the Site Collection is locked, the users can’t do anything but look at the content in SharePoint.  Anything that would change the contents of any list or library is stopped.  Workflows don’t start. Users cannot update list items or create new documents.  Everything grinds to a halt.  Suddenly SharePoint becomes more like a stuffy museum instead of a petting zoo. (SharePoint was meant to be more like a petting zoo.)  If this happens to your users they will probably not be happy. There is a way around this.  You can opt to not lock sites when you create your backup. This presents another problem that Sean McDonough went into here.

So how do you know when to backup your SharePoint content?  You can assume when no one will be using your SharePoint site and just create backups over the weekend, but this is only hit and miss, and you might be impacting more of your users than you originally thought.  This is why they make diagnostic and performance monitoring tools for SharePoint.

Think of diagnostic tools for SharePoint like the OBD-II sensors in your car. Your car has a myriad of sensors to monitor its performance; fuel sensors, air sensors, and so on. When something is amiss, your car will let you know by a little light on your dashboard. It may not tell you what is wrong, just that something is wrong. When you take the car to a mechanic however, they can pull a code and know exactly what is wrong and what needs to be repaired.  Without a diagnostic tool like this for SharePoint, you may know that something is wrong, but may not be able to determine what. And a diagnostic tool will also let you know if something is going to go wrong before it does, so that you can address it before your end users notice.

So how does a diagnostic tool fit into a DR strategy? You need to know when your SharePoint farm will suffer the least from performing a backup, and when your backups will perform the best.  You don’t want to do a backup when your server is under a high load and there is a lot of traffic on it. It’s not a good idea to guess when an ideal time to perform a backup is. By using tools like performance monitors you can know for sure what kind of impact your backup will have on your end users.

Something else you need to keep in mind about when you backup, is how long your backup will take.  You need to know how long your backup will take to complete so that you can manage your backup within the window that you have determined by your diagnostic tool. The diagnostic tool not only tells you when it is okay to start your backup, but when it should finish by.  Is this really an issue? Absolutely. When I was doing quality assurance testing for Idera’s SharePoint Backup, some of the tests I would perform took days. Not minutes or hours, but days to complete. (This was of course under a very rare and unusual circumstance in a unique environment that you likely don’t have, but it is worth noting.)  Starting a backup on Friday afternoon that doesn’t complete until sometime Wednesday morning that locks up your entire SharePoint farm is not going to make your end users very happy. It is also a good idea to use the performance monitoring tool to see how taxing a backup is on your farm. And to constantly adjust your DR strategy around it. SharePoint is not a static environment. Your end user’s habits change. You need to stay up to speed with what their needs are so that you can accommodate them and work around them.

Fortunately most of the companies that sell DR products for SharePoint also sell performance monitoring tools for SharePoint. There is a reason that those tools exist, and this is one of them.


February 1, 2013

Don’t they test that?

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , , , — slingeronline @ 9:29 am

Well, today is my last day at Idera.  I was a Quality Assurance engineer testing their SharePoint disaster recovery product.  I have seen behind the curtain at a software vendor and I know a lot more about what goes on in the life cycle of a piece of software.  I can assure you that yes, it is tested. Part of my job was to test the functionality of the software and all of the new features that were included in each new release, and that has enlightened me to some very interesting things.  (more…)

May 5, 2009

Do you think Autodesk got it right this time? Yeah, me neither.

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 8:30 am

Well, I found out from our company’s CAD Support lead that Autodesk has it’s 2010 versions out now.  I figured if there was a chance that they fixed the white screen issue in Internet Explorer, maybe this was it.  I’m downloading the file now and I’m going to install it and let you know.  I’ll be back after the jump.


April 8, 2008

Custom Workflow in Publishing Portal creates an issue

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , , , — slingeronline @ 2:25 pm

Found this one by accident today, but it is worth noting.   In our MOSS site, some of our internal users use the publishing portal features.  Not a big deal.  I have created a workflow that automates copying files from one subsite to another subsite for some of our external users so that we don’t have cross contamination of our documentation.  Sounds great, except for one little thing.  There is a bug that is not openly addressed by Microsoft. (more…)

April 1, 2008

Autodesk almost gets it right!

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 8:10 am

Well DWG True View 2009 was released recently, and I thought I would give it a shot. The software is free after all.  I downloaded the installer, and unzipped it to a local folder.  I didn’t run the install yet, because I wanted to check everything there was to check first.  I carefully scrutinized the setup.ini for any hint of an item that needed to be changed.  I didn’t find anything.  Then I ran the setup program, option for the custom installation option instead of a typical installation so that I could catch anything that needed to be changed.  It all installed.  I was asked to reboot my computer.  I went to my SharePoint site and clicked on an AutoCAD drawing… (more…)

March 31, 2008

Autodesk’s answer to True View doesn’t work either.

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 7:53 am

If you have been following along, you will know that I happened across an article in Autodesk’s knowledge base that describes a “solution” to the issue of DWG True View and Internet Explorer.  That KB article is here.  Since I wasn’t having much luck anywhere else, I figured I would try to give it a shot, thinking maybe I could code something that would link to a document library and we might have a kludgy work around to the issue.  (more…)

March 27, 2008

Adding a Change Password function for Forms Based Authentication users.

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 8:53 am

We have a MOSS site with Dual Authentication.  Internal users authenticate against the Active Directory, and external users authenticate against an SQL database.  In order to make it easier to manage users, I installed some of the features for forms based authentication from Codeplex.  Here’s where I ran into a problem.  When we set up a user in FBA we can specify the password, and that’s where it ends.  If they forget their password we can’t choose which one to assign them.  When you use the “Reset Password” option from the FBA tools, it sets the password to a string of gibberish.  I needed a way for our external users to reset their password to something they could actually remember. (more…)

March 26, 2008

More on the SharePoint/DWG True View front

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 8:38 am

Well, I was doing more research into this, while trying to find a downlaod of DWG True View 2009 to see if that would solve the problem.  While I was poking around I found Autodesk’s knowledge base for TrueView.  I found out some interesting information. (more…)

March 25, 2008

I’ve not forgotten about Autodesk.

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 11:17 am

For those that were following my plight with SharePoint and Autodesk’s AutoCAD, know that I have not given up.  I am still researching a solution to the problem of Autodesk being dicks and not believing that their software is the culprit.  Unfortunately I am no nearer an answer today than I have been previously.  The answer from Autodesk is still, “Wait for TrueView 2009.”  (more…)

March 4, 2008

The continuing saga of Autodesk giving their users the finger.

Filed under: SharePoint — Tags: , — slingeronline @ 2:52 pm

Well.  I’m still at it.  DWG True View and Internet Explorer. (I have since proven that the problem exists not merely within SharePoint, but any time that you try to download or open a file hosted on a website and you try to access it using Internet Explorer.)  Autodesk would do well to put a toggle, or switch in their application settings that stops trying to render a drawing in IE.  I have cruised their forums looking for an answer.  And I got this one.  It works, but I don’t recommend it. (more…)

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