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SharePoint Security Patches With Server Updates Can Cause Issues

Eric VanRoy Eric VanRoy  |  
Jun 11, 2015
 
I have been revisiting this discussion with clients much more often than I have in quite a while. I am not sure of the driving factor of this, but I did want to post the information again to make the SharePoint community as aware as possible of this situation that can potentially cause an outage in your environment. Because of the changes in the way Microsoft is pushing out security updates, this would apply to all supported versions of SharePoint.

SharePoint Patching has always be an adventure. It is unlike any other system that I can recall from Microsoft. This is due to the two part process necessary to patch a SharePoint farm. First is to run the install package, and second is to run the wizard (this will update Database Schemas, etc.). In the past this was very controlled because Microsoft released only “published” cumulative updates and were not part of “Windows updates”.
 

Recently (late 2014) Microsoft started to release “SharePoint Security updates” as part of “Windows updates”. These then get deployed the same as other windows OS patches. Most of the time Windows OS patches are applied and servers are restarted, but as I highlighted above this is not enough to correctly patch SharePoint and the system sit in an unstable state. 


Todd Klindts blog highlighted a change Microsoft made after my January post. Todd’s post discussed a move in March where Microsoft had planned on including SharePoint Cumulative Updates as part of this process also, they quickly retracted that statement, however Microsoft is still pushing out “SharePoint Security updates” as part of Windows Updates. Along with this is that the fact that they update software does not correctly identify what is installed and will in some cases apply the incorrect patch (Foundation on a Server farm) and cause other issue. They also put the update in Windows updates in such a way that they cannot be excluded by “system” easily and have to individually be deselected.

Additional information highlighting a specific misidentification I found with a client is in my article on Skyline Technologies blogs in January.

A couple of the common symptoms we have seen are:
  • Workflows no longer working or prompting for credentials
  • Standard and Enterprise services no longer functioning (Examples, excel services, User profile services)
  • SharePoint completely down

Bottom line: “You should not enable automatic updates on SharePoint servers.” I extend this a little to a statement that “Applying patches to a SharePoint server should be a conscious decision and a planned and manual process”
 
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