A Problem Occurred While Connecting to the Server

We’ve all gotten this error before.


This can mean any number of things. This article will describe a very specific situation that we discovered with one of our users.


Library Settings Applicable to this Scenario

  • Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited? = YES

This setting can be found by navigating to the library > Library Settings > Versioning Settings

  •  Open in the client application

This setting can be set at either the site collection level or the library level

  • Site Collection = Site Actions > Site Settings > Site Collection Features
  • Library = Library Settings > Advanced Settings 


When a user attempts to open a document in the library noted above, they get the following messages.

New Open Behavior

Server Read-Only This document was opened from a server in read-only mode.

When the user clicks the Edit Document button they then receive this error


A problem occurred while contacting the server. If the problem continues, contact your administrator.


In this particular case, the cause was due to the site collection admin cutting and pasting the library into a manually created folder they had created in Explorer view.

Here are the steps they took to create the problem.

  • User navigated to the site in the web interface
  • Created 2 Document libraries named Library01 and Library02
  • Open the site in Explorer View
  • Right click and create new folder called Manually Created Folder (see image below)Before Library Move
  • Right clicked Library02 and selected Cut
  • Right clicked Manually Created Folder and selected Paste
  • Library02 now resides in the newly created Manually Created Folder


The reason this breaks the library is due to existing pointers in the content database that will still point to the original location.


In order to repair this issue, you must reverse all changes performed

  • Open site in Explorer View
  • Navigate to the Manually Created Folder location
  • Right click Library02 and select Cut
  • Navigate up to the original location the library was created in
  • Right click and choose Paste
  • Right click the Manually Created Folder and choose Delete
  • The correct folder structure will look like the image below

Proper Structure

It’s easy to mistake a library for a folder within a library in Explorer View, and you may not notice any issues until you start using other features/settings within your library. The best advice is to just leave it alone unless you’re fully aware of what you’re doing. Luckily for this user, this was easily remedied and we haven’t seen any major issues because of it. Hopefully that will remain the case.

Troubleshooting Tip

Navigate to the Library Settings of the affected library. Now examine the URL of the library. Are there any directories in the URL that do not match up to a sub site in your site structure? If so, this is likely the folder that was created by the user


Error Opening SharePoint 2013 Site in SharePoint Designer 2013

I recently ran into a user who was getting the following error message every time they attempted to open their SharePoint 2013 site via the web interface in SharePoint Designer.

This action couldn’t be performed because Office doesn’t recognize the command it was given.

The pop-up message will look like the image below.

Untitled picture

The user had both SharePoint Designer 2010 and SharePoint Designer 2013 installed on their PC, which should not be an issue specifially as you can have both on the same computer without issues. You may find when you upgrade a particular SharePoint 2010 farm that your users will need to clear their SharePoint Designer cache in order for the new 2013 designer to work. The cache was not the issue here though.


We found that the simple solution to the error was to re-install SharePoint Designer 2013 on the users workstation.

That simple action fixed the issue. The user had tried a repair of Designer which did no help, so a full uninstall then install was needed.

Hopefully this helps you if you run into this issue.

Gimme All Your Cache!

Those of us who have the wonderful job of managing a SharePoint farm know, installing patches can be a bit like playing roulette. This is especially true when installing Cumulative Updates, but not limited to.

Those of us who manage a SharePoint farm with multiple servers have definitely seen our fair share of messages like the one below.

Obviously, the first thing you need to verify, is that the noted patch is actually on all the servers. If it is, often we are then directed by sites, even mine, to manually run some combination of the PSCONFIG.exe command manually via powershell. This typically works because we’re forcing SharePoint to skip important version checks etc.

I highly recommend before you jump to any powershell that you follow the instructions on the site below.

SharePoint 2010 – Clearing the Configuration Cache

What this site is doing is clearing your configuration cache on each server before you attempt to run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard on any of your servers. The instructions specifically indicate they are for SharePoint 2010, but they work for SharePoint 2013 as well.

I’ve found I’ve even had issues running the PSCONFIG.exe manually and I still cannot get the config to finish. Clearing the cache is what works. You may need to reboot your servers, and you may even need to clear the cache twice, but soon, it will likely resolve the issue. So if you’re sitting stuck at 10% for forever, kill that PSCONFIG.exe task in the Task Manager and clear your cache. But don’t thank me, thank , the author of the above article.

ISSUE: KB2844286 Security Update on SharePoint 2010

Came in today to find the following error message showing up on seemingly random web parts and lists throughout our SharePoint 2010 Foundation farm. ULS Logs on the servers weren’t very helpful.

[This issue has been RESOLVED see updates below]

KB2844286 Error

For the sake of search indexing, here is the text version of the error we are getting.

Unable to display this Web Part. To troubleshoot the problem, open this Web page in a Microsoft SharePoint Foundation-compatible HTML editor such as Microsoft SharePoint Designer. If the problem persists, contact your Web server administrator.

We quickly tracked it down to a Security Update that was applied to our web front end servers last night. Check the OS below to find the KB update associated with your server.

Windows XP and Windows Server 2003

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 and Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2

This is in regard to the following Microsoft Security Bulletin for July 2013

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS13-052

As a temporary workaround, we found uninstalling the update (KB2844286) from your servers (all WFE’s and App servers) then performing an IISReset on the servers will resolve the issue. Several others have experienced this issue as noted in just one of many forums such as the one below


If I find there is a solution better than uninstalling I will update this post to reflect that. As of right now, uninstalling this update is the best option.

[Update 7/16/2013 3:40pm]

It appears the error typically appears when a list or web part view has had the XSLT customized. At least in our Farm, that has been the common behavior.

[Update 7/17/2013 10:03am]

Not much of an update, but I’m awaiting contact from our Microsoft TAM to see about this issue. If we don’t hear from them soon, then we’ll be opening a ticket with Microsoft. Luckily we were able to work around the issue by uninstalling.

[Update 7/17/2013 12:50pm]

I just received confirmation from our TAM that Microsoft is aware of 2 issues regarding the patch noted in this article above. One of which appears to be the SharePoint issue we’re having.

[Update 7/17/2013 2:43pm]

Just spoke with our Microsoft Sr. Support Escalation Engineer assigned to our premier support ticket and here is their response (summarized).

“Our product group is currently working on the updated patch. We have no ETA for the new release at the moment.”

Looks like we wait then for a resolution.

[Update 7/17/2013 2:59pm]

One more confirmation from Microsoft Support and a link to the forum MS is using to track the issue publicly. No public information just yet beyond that, however.

“Both the SharePoint and .NET product groups are aware of the issue and they are in the process of fixing the patch.”

Follow the issue at this TechNet Forum

[Update 7/18/2013 9:24am]

So far I have heard of no updated patch being released yet by Microsoft. There were two MS Security Bulletin updates but it doesn’t appear they were related to this issue as they were for Bulletin MS12-006 and MS12-052.

[Update 7/21/2013 12:36pm]

Still no updated patch. Received an e-mail from our MS Support representative and they indicated they too have no ETA on any updates to the security patch. I guess I’d rather they take their time then rush an update out all to break something else. It would be a good idea if Microsoft were to either add a note to the update download page indicating the issue, or just pull the update altogether.

[Update 7/24/2013 8:28am]

I just got a message from our Microsoft Support representative and she informed me there is no update as of yet on a new download for the patch. No surprise there.

[Update 7/25/2013 7:50am]

As you can see from the comments that have arrived thus far, it appears Microsoft has provided a fix to the KB2844286 issue. We are in the process of testing it out in our DEV environment now. Let’s hope it fixes it and doesn’t cause more issues.

[Update 7/25/2013 8:22am]

I am at this point, comfortable with counting this issue RESOLVED. We’ve tested it in DEV and the solution resolves the problem and doesn’t seem to break anything else. We won’t be able to complete the resolution in our Production environment until after hours as we will have to re-install KB2844286 which will require a reboot and the patch requires at the very least an IISRESET.

Go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2872441 to download the update. Note: You will need to run an IISRESET for the update to take effect after installing.

Convert Site Template Farm Solution to Sandboxed Solution

Visual Studio to Site TemplateI am the Farm Administrator of a SharePoint 2010 farm for a relatively large organization and we often get requests to deploy site templates found throughout the web. We are still a very small team supporting a large number of users and sites. The difficulty with these requests is that the solutions found are typically farm solutions which require the solution to be available to all site collections within the Web Application. This wouldn’t be an issue, except we are unable/unwilling to support all of these solutions, both in technical and education/training terms.

I have found the easiest solution is to deploy the solution to our DEV environment, deploy a site using that new site template and then I save the site as a template. I can then import that .wsp solution file into a new Visual Studio 2010 project using the very helpful instructions below. I cannot claim any credit for these instructions, however, only credit in finding them.

How to Build a Site Collection Template from A Web Template in SharePoint 2010

Don’t forget to create the new solution as a Sandboxed Solution as opposed to a Farm Solution. I would also highly recommend you are clear with your users/customers that these solutions are not supported by your organization and document the transaction so as to protect yourself and your time. This option will be useful if the solution is to be deployed to a Site Collection. You could just use the exported .wsp file but I like to rename the feature within Visual Studio and package it to look a little more official.

Making the Most of the Person List Field

I have recently been working with some interesting SharePoint lists in which I am requiring users to submit forms that include user contacts. I am using the Person or Group field in my SharePoint list, but I am limited to only show one of the following options below:

  • Name (with presence)
  • ID
  • Name
  • Modified
  • Created
  • Account
  • E-mail
  • Mobile Number
  • SIP Address
  • Department
  • Job Title
  • Name (with picture)
  • Name (with picture and details)
  • Content Type

Typically I like the end user to see the Name (with presence) option, but I want to be able to easily use the Account and E-mail fields because I am using this list as a Mail Merge data source. (Click Here to find out how to use a SharePoint list as a Mail Merge Data Source). There is no way through the web interface to have the user enter data into a single field but then break that info into multiple fields for use in a Mail Merge Data Source. This is where we have to get our Workflow gloves out. This article will walk us through the steps to automatically set one column field based on the user inputted Person or Group column.

Step 1 – Setup the List

This step is very straight forward so I won’t go into the details of how to create a custom list. For the purpose of this tutorial, I will be showing how to copy the e-mail address from a Person column named Contact Name in the Name (with presence) format to a column named Contact E-Mail formatted as E-Mail (see below).

**NOTE: Use the Person or Group column type for the Contact E-Mail column if you want the clickable link to bring you to the user profile.

Step 2 – Create the Workflow Actions

The workflow we will create here will be relatively simple, though you can make it as complex as you want. You can do multiple field copies if you like in one Workflow.

  • Navigate to your List
  • In the List Tools tab click the List tab
  • Click the Workflow Settings drop down menu in the Ribbon (shown below)

  • Click Create a Workflow in SharePoint Designer
  • Enter a Name and Description for your new Workflow (see below)

  • Click OK
  • You will be presented with an empty Workflow with one Step created for you (see below)

  • Click the Step 1 title bar and change the name to Step 1 – Contact Copy (see below)

  • Click in the Step 1 – Contact Copy body then click the Action drop down menu in the Ribbon (see below)

  • Click on Set Field in Current Item option found in the List Actions Section
  • You will now see “Set field to value in the Step 1 – Contact Copy step (see below)

  • Click the field link, this will display a drop down showing the columns within your list. Select Contact E-Mail (see below)

  • Click the value link, which will open a new dialog box (see below)

  • Select Workflow Lookup for a User… then click the Add>> button (see above)
  • A new dialog will open (see below). Enter the following information
    • Data Source: Current Item
    • Field from source: Contact Name
    • Return field as: Email Address

  • Click OK
  • The Select Users screen from before should now have the following Selected users in the text field: Current Item: Contact Name (see below)

  • Click OK
  • Repeat these steps for each column you need copied

**Advice** I recommend you group your STEPS by common Contact. If you plan on having multiple contact fields and then copy those into E-mail, Account, etc. organize them by user


Step 1 – Site Administrator Copy


Step 2 – Site User Copy


Step 3 – Configure Workflow Settings

The final step is configuring the workflow settings. This is the how and when your Workflow will be initiated and by whom.

  • From the Workflow editing screen in SharePoint Designer click Workflow Settings in the Ribbon (see below)

  • Locate the Settings zone in the Workflow Settings screen (see below)

  • You may choose to use a different Task List and History List. For this tutorial, we will use the default Tasks list and Workflow History list.
  • In SharePoint 2010 Standard and Enterprise you can choose to select the Show workflow visualization on the status page (see above). We will leave this box unchecked for this tutorial.

Workflow Visualization utilizes the Visio Services which are not available in the Foundation version

  • Locate the Start Options zone in the Workflow Settings screen (see below)

  • Choose which options your workflow requires. We will check all for the following reasons
    • Allow this workflow to be manually started– I want to be able to select a list item and run the workflow myself at any time
      • Require Manage List permissions – I don’t want anyone but myself and those I delegate the ability to manually run the workflow. Useful for lists with large numbers of potential users.
    • Start workflow automatically when an item is created – Useful in automating the initiation of the workflow without human interaction except for the actual list item creation.
    • Start workflow automatically when an item is changed – This is a good setting to ensure your fields stay up-to-date even if someone changes a field. Be careful not to have users manually set a column field that is set to be modified by the workflow or their information will be overwritten.

Step 4 – Save and Publish

The final step is to save your workflow and then publish it to your list. This is a very simple process but you must ensure you do both a save and publish otherwise you may not see the workflow.

  • Click the Save button in the Ribbon (Click Save as often as you want so you don’t lose your work)
  • If you aren’t already in the Workflow editor portion of the program then click Edit Workflow link in the Customizations zone (see above)
  • In the ribbon click Check for Errors (see below)

  • Make sure you get a message indicating there are no errors (see below).

  • Click OK
  • When you are ready to publish the workflow to your list, click the Publish button in the ribbon
  • Navigate to your site and test out the list. Add a new list item and the Contact E-Mail field should be automatically populated

I hope these instructions were helpful. Please do leave comments if you have questions or see errors in my instructions or you have trouble understanding them.

Mail Merge Using SharePoint List as Data Source

I have found several articles on the web that made mail merge using a SharePoint 2010 list as the data source possible which has spawned this post. The instructions I found online were great, up to a certain point, however. Most of the instructions assumed the users had some basic understanding and thus many steps were omitted which reduces the target audience that can use their instructions considerably. These instructions are intended for folks who have not worked with the Visual Basic Macro editor and don’t have a lot of interest in learning how to do it. They just want to get their work done.

Setup Info

I have created the following test documents and test SharePoint lists for these instructions. You will need to do the same for your project.

Files/Data Used

  • Create Data Source list in SharePoint 2010
  • Open Notepad and save an empty file as TestMergeSource.odc to the following location
    • C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\QUERIES
  • Open Microsoft Word (2007 or 2010)
  • Save Word document as TestMergeDocument.docx to SharePoint 2010 document library location noted above
  • In Word document click View tab
  • Click View Macros (see below)
  • Enter a name in the Macro name: field (no spaces)
    • I named mine Test_Merge_Source
  • Select All active templates and documents in the Macros in: drop down (see below)
  • Click Create button
  • Paste the below code into the Visual Basic Editor replacing bolded sections with your filenames
    • (NOTE: If you have more than one macro, your editor may have multiple Sub sections, this is ok)
Sub Test_Merge_Source()
Test_Merge_Source Macro
‘ Combines files to produce form letters, mailing labels, envelopes, and catalogs
‘ List name
Const strList As String = “Mail Merge Data Source
‘ Site URL
Const strDatabase As String = “http://your.domain.com
‘ Office Database Connection file
Const strODC As String = “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office14\QUERIES\TestMergeSource.odc
ActiveDocument.MailMerge.MainDocumentType = wdNotAMergeDocument
ActiveDocument.MailMerge.OpenDataSource _
Name:=strODC, _
Connection:= _
“Provider=Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0;” & _
“Data Source=” & strDatabase & “;” & _
“Mode=Share Deny None;” & _
“Extended Properties=””WSS;HDR=NO;IMEX=2;” & _
“DATABASE=” & strDatabase & “;” & _
“LIST=” & strList & “;””;”, _
sqlstatement:= _
“SELECT * FROM [” & strList & “]”
End Sub
  • Your completed code will look like the image below with no other Macros present, if you do have others your code will look different
  • Click Save when done
  • Close the Visual Basic Editor screen
  • Back in Word click the Macros button and click View Macros again
  • You should now see the newly created Macro named Test_Merge_Source (or whatever you named yours… see below)
  • Select your Macro and click Run
  • Click the Mailings tab
  • Click the Edit Recipients List button in the Start Mail Merge section
  • Validate the recipients list is accurate (see below)
  • If all is correct, create your document as you normally would and then save the document.
  • You will not need to repeat these steps unless you move to a different computer or remove the code added above

You can also use this macro for other Word Documents that you want to use the same data source. This is why I recommend saving the macro with a name specific to the data source (SharePoint List).

 If these instructions were helpful please leave a comment or if you had issues understanding/following them please leave feedback so I can fix them.

Configure Kerberos for SharePoint 2010

Cerberus or Kerberos, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound (usually three-headed)which guards the gates of the Underworld, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. more

Configuring Kerberos Authentication in SharePoint 2010 has gotten a bad reputation for being too hard to do so many, if not most, stick with the standard NTLM authentication. Even Microsoft recommends this. For many instances, this may be fine, but if you require Kerberos, I recommend using the below document from Microsoft to guide you through the configuration of Kerberos.

Configuring Kerberos Authentication for Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products (Download)

How do I know if I should use Kerberos or NTLM?
This is a good article that lays out why you would use Kerberos. Click Here

Some keys to remember when setting up Kerberos is the people or technologies you will need to work with.

In a typical enterprise, you will need to speak with the following folks.

  • Active Directory Administrators (Create SPN’s & KDC configuration)
  • Load Balancing Administrators
  • SSL Encryption (external or internal)

If you are the administrator of all of this, then your job gets easier and harder, because now you have to know how to do all of this. The above document, however, walks you through the process step by step and then shows you how to effectively test to ensure the configuration is working.

Basically there are 5 steps to configuring Kerberos (not including SharePoint Installation)

  1. Create SPN’s – Info
  2. Configure account delegation
  3. Configure SSL
  4. Configure Load Balancing
  5. Configure Web Application

The process is more complex than just 5 steps, but those are the basic aspects of the configuration. Ensure you follow the above document and don’t get bored by all of the content within. They get a little too much into their scenario for configuration which is can be confusing. The naming scheme for service accounts and Service Applications are so similar it’s easy to get lost in the document.

I recommend you read through the document once or twice before starting, create an action plan that shows your step-by-step process before you begin then execute. More importantly, research and truly analyze whether your implementation really requires Kerberos or you can get by with just NTLM.

Once you’ve made it through, you’ll find it’s much easier than even the document makes it out to be. Sometimes these documents are much too wordy.

Leave your comments about your experiences with configuring Kerberos authentication for SharePoint 2010.

Error: SharePoint 2010 Configuration Wizard

I ran into the below error today while installing the April 2012 Cumulative Update (KB 2598321) for SharePoint 2010 Foundation.

I figured I would post the resolution for anyone who happens upon this issue as well and for my own sake, since I’m constantly forgetting the parameter to run. The resolution isn’t specifically just for the April 2012 Cumulative Update. It can be used anytime you see this error.

WARNING: Backup your farm prior to installing Cumulative Updates and running the Configuration Wizard.

What Happened?

Architecture: 2 WFE/APP (load balanced), 1 SQL

Scenario: Installed CU on both WFE’s and ran Configuration Wizard on the primary server first. Attempted to run on the 2nd server and received the error above.

Impact: When the configuration wizard fails, it may then take your WFE offline until you can get this resolved.

Resolution: Run the following PowerShell command on the affected server

psconfig.exe -cmd installcheck –noinstallcheck

 WARNING: Ensure you understand what this command is doing before you perform it on your production servers. Click Here for more information on PSCONFIG.
You may need to re-run the configuration wizard to ensure all is functioning but this should bypass the installation check which will disregard the error you saw above.
Hopefully this helps you if you have this error.
Thank you to @AviSuj for reminding me of these parameters.

Clean Deploy of Central Admin

SharePoint 2010 is a really fun platform to administer, but configuring it can be a challenge, both technically and socially. If your organization is like mine and has a team of DBA’s administering your SQL instance/s for SharePoint, you’ll want to know how to deploy SharePoint 2010 as clean as possible.

What is a Clean install of SharePoint?

SharePoint 2010 can be installed and configured in a very short amount of time using the configuration wizards which basically will do almost all of the work for you. If you value your relationship with your DBA’s… DON”T DO THIS!!

Using the configuration wizard will inevitably create a slew of SQL databases with horrible names that include a long GUID at the end. This can be a real nightmare for maintenance and just plain ugly. (see below)

This is default SharePoint 2010 Foundation Database configuration. Standard/Enterprise are much worse by default.

This article will just address that of deploying and configuring the SharePoint Farm and Central Administration web application so as to keep that aspect of the installation clean.

This is what SharePoint 2010 Foundation could look like with some extra effort. Standard/Enterprise can be cleaned up as well.

If I can’t use the wizard, what do I use?

In order to do this, you will need to use the SharePoint 2010 Management Shell to do this as there is no clean way of doing it via a GUI interface that I know of.

But don’t get too nervous just yet, because even though it’s powershell, it’s pretty easy, and if you follow my steps, you can do it with little to no powershell experience. Leave a comment if you’re interested in downloading a script that makes these steps even easier.

NOTE: I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with PowerShell if you plan on administering SharePoint.

SQL Steps

  • Install SharePoint on your server
  • Skip to SharePoint Steps Section if not using Pre-Created Databases (i.e. are you or DBA’s creating empty databases, if so continue to next step)
  • Run SQL Server Management Studio 
  • Connect to SQL Instance SharePoint will reside
  • Click New Query
  • Enter the following commands


  • Press F5 key when ready to execute
  • Verify the new Databases “SharePoint_Config” and “SharePoint_AdminContent” were created successfully

SharePoint Steps

  • Navigate to Start > All Programs > Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products > SharePoint 2010 Management Shell
  • Enter the following command (Replace < > entries with specified info)

psconfig.exe -cmd configdb -create -server <“SQLServerName/Instance”> -database “SharePoint_Config” -user <“domain\username”> -password <“password”> -admincontentdatabase “SharePoint_AdminContent” -passphrase <“PassPhrase”>

  • Ensure the command completed successfully (see image above)
  • Now enter the following command to configure the Central Administration Port (You could proceed using the Configuration Wizard if preferred)

psconfig.exe -cmd adminvs -provision -port <“Port”> -windowsauthprovider onlyusentlm

  • Click Start > All Programs > Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Products > SharePoint 2010 Central Administration
  • Ensure the site comes up

You’re now on your way to a happy and clean SharePoint 2010 installation and a happy team of DBA’s

Again, if you’re interested in getting a script from me that performs this for you so all you need to do is enter your specific information please leave a comment and I’ll ensure I get it to you.