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TechnologyApr 03, 2013

Troubleshooting SharePoint Errors

Will Stokes

SharePoint is an incredibly complex system and troubleshooting errors is something you will encounter if you administer any SharePoint system. Knowing where to go and how to identify SharePoint errors takes practice and patience. Hopefully, these steps can assist you in finding the information necessary to correct any SharePoint error you encounter.

Below are my suggested steps for troubleshooting errors that occur in any SharePoint version, including SharePoint 2013.

Before you start, download this tool – SharePoint Log Viewer.

Trying to work through a SharePoint ULS log without this tool is an exercise in futility. Save hours of frustration by downloading this free application. It has an easy-to-use interface and helps you filter your SharePoint logs into more meaningful chunks.  Troubleshooting Steps:

There are multiple places to begin your SharePoint troubleshooting. Your starting point depends on where in your SharePoint installation you run into the errors. I’ll list them out in the order I usually attack them:

1.  Windows Application Event Logs: Many SharePoint errors surface in the Windows Application Event Logs especially right after you have completed your installation. These errors usually involve incorrect service account rights, but can also surface incorrect configuration or database settings. I usually start with these logs because most error solutions posted online include the Event ID in their title. To troubleshoot a Windows Application event, I follow these steps:

    1. Open the Windows Event Viewer by clicking on Start > Administrative Tools > Event Viewer

    2. Expand Windows Logs and click on “Application”

  •  Scroll through the log events until you find an error that has SharePoint as the source and read the error. If it relates to the issue, copy the Event ID and description.

  • Google “SharePoint xxxx Event id yyyy)” where xxxx equals the SharePoint version you are using and yyyy equals the Event ID listed in the event log

  • If that doesn’t return a specific fix to your error, try adding the first sentence of the error details to the above search query. Many times the same Event ID will have multiple fixes for wildly different errors. Adding specific error information to the search query often gives you more accurate search results.

2.  SharePoint ULS Logs: If the error you receive isn’t in the Windows Event Logs, it will definitely be in the SharePoint logs. These logs can be very large, so open them using the SharePoint Log Viewer mentioned above. To troubleshoot a SharePoint error using the SharePoint logs, I follow these steps:

  • Open Central Administration > Monitoring > Configure Diagnostic Logging. Check “All Categories,” change the “Least critical event to report to the trace log” to “Verbose” and click “OK.” Be sure to change this item back to normal levels after you have completed the troubleshooting exercise.

  • Recreate your error in SharePoint and copy the Correlation ID to notepa

  • Open the SharePoint Log Viewer as administrator and open the latest SharePoint log Paste in the Correlation ID of the error in the SharePoint Event Viewer search box and click on the search button

  • Review the remaining log entries and pay close attention to any error with a level of high or critical. These errors will be your clue into correcting the error.

  • In some cases, the critical or high level errors will tell you exactly what is wrong, but in most cases Google is your answer. Click on the critical or high level error, copy the first sentence from the error message section of the SharePoint Event Viewer, and search Google using this error.

One of the great things about SharePoint is how popular it has become. This means nearly every error you are going to run into has been found and fixed by someone. Following these troubleshooting steps will allow you to pinpoint your errors and use the collective knowledge of the “Google Brain” to fix the errors.

For more information on SharePoint 2013, please visit our blog or follow us at @CrederaMSFT.