Monday, 7 December 2009

SharePoint Alert - Hot in the Kitchen

Friday night for me was nearly very eventful. After a day spent working on a SharePoint Project Management system with a Fire Service in the Midlands I very nearly found myself dialling 999 when I had a smoke filled kitchen. So this week I am going to talk about the importance of making regular checks on your SharePoint system be it full MOSS or WSS.

Let me start with how I nearly set fire to the house and how I managed set off smoke alarms on all three floors. Just to save you worrying I will tell you now that the only harm done in the end was to a saucepan and nobody was injured. The incident started at 9pm when I decided for my pudding to have an individual chocolate sponge pudding with caramel sauce. These come in individual plastic bowls and have a white film lid on them. The instructions said boil in just enough water to float for twenty minutes DON’T LET BOIL DRY. Now that seemed quite simple even for someone who isn’t the most imaginative cook how could it go wrong? I then started work on a Health & Safety SharePoint Template designed for Safety Departments at small to medium sized companies with custom lists included for Incident Reports, First Aiders, Risk Assessments and First Aid Book (drop me an email if you want hear more about this). It was going well and after working solid for two hours I suddenly noticed it was 11pm. I then more worryingly suddenly thought about my chocolate pudding.

Opening the kitchen door I was met by a very big cloud of thick black smoke and within seconds all the smoke alarms in the house were going off. At least it was a good test. All that remained of the pudding and container was what looked like a lump of coal that had a worryingly orange glow and I think I just got there in the nick of time. Still now three days later the smell of smoke in the house is very evident. So you see this is why regular checks are important and it also very important to keep a regular check on your SharePoint.

Regular checks you can perform on SharePoint include weekly checks of the Event Logs to see if any SharePoint errors have appeared. If they have act on them immediately even if nothing appears to be wrong because eventually they could catch fire. The best advice is often to just copy the event into notepad remove all mentions of your individual URL’s, or server names, and then stick it into Google. You will normally find you are not the first person to have this problem and I am sure you won’t be the last. Also keep checking that your backup system is working and whenever possible do a test restore (you’ll be surprised how many people never do this). If you cannot restore Sites or Libraries quickly it might be worth having a look at a SharePoint third party backup tool like AvePoint.

Another product that we at Office Talk recommends for helping to keep track of what is happening in SharePoint is Control Point (a product offered by Axceler). This allows you to monitor what is really happening to your SharePoint without the need to keep going in and checking. It would be like me being able to know what was going on in the kitchen without having to go in and check. Maybe then I wouldn’t now be trying to still scrub the black soot off the base of the medium sized saucepan, part of a set of five we had as a wedding gift. Any advice on how to clean burnt sauce pans would be appreciated. Perhaps Kim Woodman might have some advice now she has left the jungle. If you have ControlPoint it lets you monitor, protect, analyse and even control your MOSS SharePoint system like having CCTV . With ControlPoint, you now have the facility to identify and manage the growth of sites like I should have monitored the depth of my boiling water or lack of it. The result is Control Point allows you to restore order before your environment gets out of control. It lets you quickly identify problems and, even better, act upon them before you have to call an emergency helpline.

Now I need to go and start working on a SharePoint World Cup 2010 template now the draw has been made and it looks quite good for England. Maybe we can finally go one stage further than we did in Italia 90. But I will cook my dinner first.

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