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SharePoint Tips: How to Update SharePoint Server 2013

Eric Russo | | November 17, 2014

Update SharePoint Server 2013 Tips for DBAsThere’s been some confusion regarding the SharePoint Server 2013 patch process. Don’t think you’re alone. Microsoft has used confusing language and strange numbering conventions, making it difficult to find the information you need.

What do you need to know to patch SharePoint Server 2013?

First, you’ll need to know what you’ve already added. Sorting out which of the cumulative updates you have installed can be confusing.

In speaking with Microsoft experts, Kurt Mackie, senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group, discovered the issue was whether the August Cumulative Update for SharePoint 2013 was indeed cumulative. As users discovered, to install the patch they needed to install SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1, the July 2014 Cumulative Update, and THEN install the August 2014 Cumulative Update to be fully patched.

Stefan Gobner, a Microsoft senior escalation engineer for SharePoint explains:

After the release of August 2014 CU I read several statements that August CU is not cumulative -but that is not correct! SharePoint fixes are always cumulative! So if SharePoint fixes are cumulative – why is it required to install July 2014 CU as well to have a fully patched SharePoint server? The reason is that SharePoint is not a monolithic product. It consists of various different and mostly independent components (e.g. Search, Excel Services, Web Content Management, Document Lifecycle components …). Each of these independent components is packaged separately.

In other words, all of the components may not be updated each month.

This begs the question: why call them “cumulative” at all?

That’s a question best left to Microsoft.

What do you need to do?

Understand that Microsoft releases its SharePoint Server cumulative updates on a monthly basis. It also has a second package of updates known as uber packages. Such a package was missing from the August Cumulative Update. These typically contain patches for the components that have been updated in the current cumulative > update as well as patches for other product components. It is, according to Gobner, “very similar to a mini service pack,” and you should probably install it.

You always want to install Service Packs, as these aren’t really optional additions. These bundles of updates and fixes “are created and released for recognized issues,” explains Microsoft. By updating to the latest service pack, you are unquestionably using the latest and most secure version of the product available. In some cases, the most current supported service pack has to be installed in order for your organization to continue getting full support from Microsoft.

There is even more confusion revolving around the public updates for SharePoint Server, which are intended for all users. These may also not have all the updates you really need for each SharePoint component you’re using. To make matters worse, there are different Knowledge Base article numbers for the public and cumulative updates.

To be certain your organization’s SharePoint Server 2013 is fully patched and updated, Mackie suggests:

In a nutshell, it appears that IT pros who patch SharePoint Server 2013 will have to learn to recognize when Microsoft does and does not release an uber package. If they don’t see an uber package mentioned, then they had better have service packs and cumulative updates installed to date. Otherwise, they risk not getting future updates, in all of their various forms.

If you have questions or concerns Microsoft hasn’t answered with these releases, or if you’re considering upgrading to a new version of SharePoint Server and need assistance, please contact Datavail to discover how our database professionals can tailor a custom DBA database upgrade solution to your organization’s specific needs.

Lastly, if you have any concerns about applying security within a SharePoint environment, download Datavail’s “Six Ways to Shore Up Your SharePoint Security” whitepaper or read this blog post from Datavail’s Sharepoint expert Trish Crespo discussing some of the major points that should be considered.

Image: kangshutters/123RF.

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