Monday, November 7, 2011

HTTP 503: Service Unavailable after a SharePoint Upgrade…HELP!!!

Jeremy Williams, Sr. Director, Modern Workplace

As pointed out to me by my esteemed colleague (Kathryn), November is apparently a blogger’s goal month of a post-a-day.  While I think that might be a bit of a lofty goal for myself, I’m going to strive to get a lot more posts out than I have in the past.  We’ll see how it goes, but in the meantime, I hope this posts provides a bit of comic relief for those that have ever been in this situation; and some relief for those that haven’t and/or currently are in it!

Scenario: You’ve been tasked with patching your SharePoint 2010 installation…You’ve done all of the leg-work: made and verified you have full backups at the ready, a solid back-out plan in place, all of the latest and greatest (and applicable) update files on the server, a cup-full of coffee, and an after-hours maintenance window. [Note: this is NOT a full list of everything you’ll need for a patching-session, but let’s pretend for the sake of my post that it is :-)]  Before you start, you think, “I’m prepared, how bad can it be?”  <—Why did you think that, you jinxed it now for sure!!

The horror story unfolds: You start patching as directed by Microsoft, applying the SharePoint foundation patch-pack followed by the SharePoint Server patch-pack, and you finish off by running psconfig (FKA SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard).  At the end of the agonizingly slow process (during which time, you were luckily reading this blog post) you see an error message pop up… Paying no attention, you click okay and you get this beautiful screen while launching Central Administration:


The panic: Your maintenance window is quickly closing in…You frantically search through Event Viewer, ULS logs, Services, etc…  You might even fire up IIS manager quickly see if your web sites are somehow stopped (which, of course, they’re not).  What you might not think to check are your application pools… Go ahead and fire that up, and you’ll probably see something similar to this (below):


The Solution: Go ahead and hit this problem with a big hammer, and start all of the application pools (later, you can go back and clean it all up, right now you just need to get SharePoint back up and running!)  After that, hit all of your SharePoint URLs and make sure everything is working as expected  [P.S. Don’t forget to check each of your server’s IIS manager snap-in to ensure all application pools are running]…It should (if you were experiencing the same problem as this post is detailing).  If you’re still having intermittent errors, you might want to go back and check up on your custom solutions, the event log, ULS log, etc…

Why it happened?? Sometimes, for whatever reason, a SharePoint update package doesn’t play nice with psconfig, and it’ll throw an error…I don’t know why this happens only sometimes, but I’ve personally run into it a number of times.  I believe the primary issue (with the error) is that psconfig dies early, and doesn’t have a chance to restart all of the application pools.  Once you’ve restarted all of your application pools, it can’t hurt to re-run psconfig to make sure everything has been properly updated.


As always, I hope that this has been helpful!!