Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Top 5 Daily SharePoint Disasters - White Paper

Metalogix has published an interesting White paper that talks about the Top 5 Daily SharePoint Disasters that SharePoint Administrators have to deal with almost on a daily basis while supporting Small or Medium or Large scale Enterprise Wide SharePoint Farms.

Here is the top 5 Daily Disasters that occur in a SharePoint farm and their recovery strategies:

1. Restoring Missing Documents:
Administrators are frequently tasked with addressing user requests to restore missing SharePoint content. While the introduction of Recycle Bin in SharePoint 2007 went a long way to reduce these requests, they still occur.

Oftentimes, a user can retrieve documents without the assistance of an administrator, if they act quickly. However, SharePoint’s Recycle Bins do not hold their contents forever. Most environments are configured to automatically flush their Recycle Bins for reasons of content size (i.e., too much in a bin) and age (i.e., a document is too old).

Documents can also disappear as a result of workflow and information management policies (such as retention policies). These may move documents between sites and site collections without a user’s knowledge. In some cases, these same mechanisms may delete documents entirely.

Multiple deletions from a document library is another problem. In these cases a user may not know which documents were deleted – only that they need to restore everything that went missing after at a particular time

Follow these steps to mitigate the “disappearing document” problem:
> Ensure that both first and second stages of the SharePoint Recycle Bin are enabled. Ideally, an item-level backup and restore strategy should be implemented to ensure that documents can be recovered in the event that they “disappear.”

> If you’re charged with restoring a document and the above stages weren’t yet enabled, you’ll need to identify compositional differences between the past and present states of the target document library. This is a less than ideal solution, for anything but the smallest of document libraries, this process can be extremely tedious and time consuming at best with conventional SharePoint administrative tools.

2. Restoring from Previous versions of Documents:
Document version recovery is a complex process and critical to users. Be sure to adopt a layered approach to ensure document version restores are simplified.

> Turn on versioning within document libraries.
> Enforce a document check-in/check-out to ensure only one user is working on a document at any given time.

Restoring documents that don’t exist in the form that matches user expectations is another common problem.

This often occurs when versioning for the list or library isn’t enabled – eachtime a user saves a document back to SharePoint, that document overwrites its previous version. However, versioning isn’t a fix-all solution. If you’re storage-conscious and limit the number of document versions that can be retained – then a complete document history may not be available. In fact, once the number of check-ins permissible by the version retention policy is reached for a given document, SharePoint deletes older versions of that document to accommodate newer versions.

Documents deleted as a result of retention limits do not go to the SharePoint Recycle Bin – they are permanently gone.

3. Corruption in a Content Database:
Content database corruption is problematic because it affects all users working with the site collections in that database. A SharePoint content database can house hundreds or even thousands of site collections. Having a content database fall out of circulation has the potential to affect most, if not all, users in a SharePoint environment.
Once a SharePoint environment is in-use, most administrators just create site collections as they are needed without giving much thought as to where those site collections go. Additional databases only get created as they are needed – typically when the “current” content database is reaching Microsoft’s maximum size (which varies from 200 GB to quite a bit larger depending on the performance of the underlying SQL Server).
Out-of-the-box high availability (HA) mechanisms generally do little to help with corrupted content databases. Some HA mechanisms, such as SQL Server’s mirroring and AlwaysOn Availability Groups, have the ability to repair inconsistencies that occur during mirroring or replication. If the source of content database corruption is external to the mirroring or replication mechanism, though, then HA simply guarantees “highly available corruption” – not a way to repair SharePoint content.
Corrupted Content Databases are a tricky problem with very few practical fixes.

> Perform regular content database backups.
> As with all backup regimens, test frequently to ensure that you can restore as desired!

4. Deleted Site Collection:
It’s quite common for users to unintentionally delete SharePoint site collections or sub-sites.
Microsoft recognized the prevalence of this problem during the SharePoint 2010 timeframe and introduced the Site Recycle Bin as part of Service Pack 1. The Site Recycle Bin extended standard Recycle Bin support to include site collections and sub-sites that were deleted. Now, although end users can restore deleted sub-sites by themselves from within the SharePoint web user interface, you’ll still need to perform an administrative action to restore an entire site collection using the Site Recycle Bin.

This is due to the fact that site collections can’t be restored from within the web user interface or even Central Administration. Instead, restoring a site collection for the Site Recycle Bin has to be done with PowerShell (specifically, the Get- SPDeletedSite and Restore-SPDeletedSite cmdlets) on your SharePoint member server.

To prevent and mitigate the problem of deleted site collections:
> Ensure that SharePoint’s Recycle Bins are configured and enabled to catch deleted site collections.
> Implement a solid backup and restore strategy for site collections and/or their associated databases.

5. Deleted Permissions settings:
The deletion of unique permissions applied to SharePoint lists or libraries by absent-minded users is a tricky one to reverse, since SharePoint’s built-in data protection toolset offers no options for restoring permissions.
The only option is to either manually re-apply all of the custom permissions to items in the list, or delete the list and attempt to import a known “good copy” that was exported from a backup set. Previously executed tests will provide much needed confidence in any restore action. The former choice is especially time consuming, while the latter results in the loss of content modifications since the last backup. Either case is far from ideal because a compromise must be made.

Without the right out-of-the-box tools in place, a site collection (or content database) backup/restore is needed.