SharePoint 2013 Evaluation Site: Checking under the hood

(In a previous blog, Andy Milsark discussed some of the fundamentals of the SharePoint 2013 Evaluation site.  If you need basic understanding of the Evaluation site, check that one out, although I suspect we may repeat some of the same things here.)

In this post, we’ll discuss in more detail what happens in SharePoint when the evaluation site is created from beginning to end.

So, let start with generating the Preview Site. This can be done through the pink bar at the top of the page or through Site Actions -> Site Settings -> under Site Collection Administration is Site Collection Upgrade.

Site Collection Upgrade

From here, we want to click “Try a demo upgrade” and another window pops up to create the demo or preview site. When that is clicked, it adds an entry into a table in the content database which can be viewed in SQL management studio.

Try a demo upgrade

So, the first part of troubleshooting is making sure that the SQL entry is made. This is found in the table dbo.PreviewSiteRequests. In SQL, find the table and right click and “Select Top 1000 Rows“. From here, we can see the entry in the table. A fresh entry will look like this:

Select Top 1000 Rows
If you’ve already requested the site and it’s not being generated, you can see if the “RetryCount” is higher than 0 and if the Status is anything but a 0. If something becomes stale in here, the only way I know how to clear this entry out is to delete it, but this is against all Microsoft’s best practices and can cause Microsoft to reject any support request due to manually editing the content database. If your problem comes down to this entry, you will need to contact Microsoft’s support and have them walk through deleting the entry.

After we request the preview site and the SQL entry is created, we will need to either wait till 1:00 AM or manually kick off the timer job to create the site. Let’s manually kick off the timer job. Now we’re looking for the “Create Upgrade Evaluations Site Collection job” for the web application you’re trying to create the site for.

Once, we kick off the timer job, SharePoint beings its creation of the site. During this phase of the process, SharePoint will create an exact copy of the content database. SharePoint will also leverage the log file of the database to create and upgrade the site. Before you kick off this process, you want to make sure you have enough disk space to hold an exact copy of the content database and room for your log file to expand. Also, if you have any log file size restrictions, turn those off and let them expand.

If you do not remove those restrictions this can cause problems with generating the site and also problems with the SharePoint environment itself. It can be pretty hard to determine what’s causing a site not to generate because you most likely will not get a correlation ID with the error. It just won’t generate leaving you to solve a mystery of what went wrong. Here’s an example of a transaction log being full error pulled from the ULS logs:

Create eval sites job: Failed to create eval site for site [https://webappname], ID [0a77ce11-2c76-4269-bfb7-cd3645494899], Eval site [https://webappname/sites/root-eval], Content db [WSS_Content]. Exception thrown while copying site: Microsoft.SharePoint.SPException: The transaction log for database ‘WSS_Content’ is full due to ‘ACTIVE_TRANSACTION’. at Microsoft.SharePoint.Upgrade.SPSiteCollectionCopier.CopyOrMoveSite(SPMigratableSite msite, Boolean copy, Nullable`1 newSiteId) at Microsoft.SharePoint.Upgrade.SPSiteCollectionCopier.Copy(Uri newSiteUri, Boolean userHostHeaderAsSiteName) at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPSite.Copy(String newSiteUrl, Boolean hostHeaderAsSiteName, SPContentDatabase targetDb, SPDatabaseSnapshot snap shot) at Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPEvalSiteCreator.MakeCopy(SPDatabaseSnapshot snpShot). Eval site creation will be retried during the next timer job run.

After the Evaluation Site is created, it still will look like a SharePoint 2010 site. This is because there is still one more timer job that runs. It is the Upgrade Site Collection Timer job. This job takes the copy of the site SharePoint creates and turns it into SharePoint 2013. The end result will be your site as it would look if you ran an upgrade on the site.

Our test site, looks pretty much like a standard SharePoint 2013 site:

standard SharePoint 2013 site

Creating an evaluation site is a good way to determine any problems that might pop up on the site when upgrading from a SharePoint 2010 site collection and a good test to see if your environment can handle the upgrade from 2010 to 2013. Hopefully you find this blog helpful!

2014-12-23T09:33:36+00:00 December 23rd, 2014|

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