SharePoint Updates: Essential Tips from the Pros

In an age of limitless information at our fingertips, I’m often frustrated as I try to weed through it all just to find the nuggets I’m looking for.

And to make matters worse, it’s often hard to find all the gold on a subject in one spot. And, indeed, with subjects like SharePoint there is much gold to be found and I’m not sure it could all be contained in one spot.

So, with these frustrations in mind, I’ll attempt to provide as many gold nuggets on deploying SharePoint Updates that I can, which will include a tips, terminology, scripts, and links that I believe every SharePoint Admin should have in their back pocket. I’m thinking, “If I were searching for information on deploying SharePoint Updates, what page would I love to find?” This would be the page for me and I hope it’s that page for you too.

What’s the big deal anyway?

The answer to this question should be short and sweet given the current state of cyber security threats. It’s no small thing and Security Updates should never be overlooked because of inconvenience or lack of expertise. Yet it’s too often we see SharePoint servers that haven’t been updated months… and even years! The reason? Quite simply: They’re afraid of breaking SharePoint. And, to be sure, breaking SharePoint is never a fun ride, especially if you’re the one who pushed the big red button!

But by better understanding the process and knowing a few tricks-of-the-trade, you’ll be well on your way to attaining your Epic-Updater status and will be able to sleep soundly knowing that you’re just a little bit better than everyone else on planet Earth. So anyways, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

SharePoint Update Tips:

Plan it out

No matter what method you choose, you’re bound to have down-time in one form or another. Whether it’s a full farm outage or a Read-Only state for High-Availability, you’ll need to communicate with your team or your entire organization to schedule the task at a time which will have the least impact for users. Microsoft proposes several methods to install a software update for SharePoint Server.

Back it up

Now, this is outside the scope of my main purpose here but, suffice it to say, you should always have a current backup of your farm. Period.

Set it up

Basically, there are two parts to updating SharePoint: Installation and Upgrade. The first part consists of downloading the appropriate update on each SharePoint server and then installing it on each one. This part can be done simultaneously. SharePoint Updates can include the latest Security Updates, Hotfixes, etc. But SharePoint’s Security Updates can also be downloaded and installed through the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS).

Tip: One practice is to install the Cumulative Updates (CU’s) for SharePoint with a month buffer. So, if the February CU was just released, install January’s instead – Technically, you’ll always be a month behind, but that can save you a lot of heartache from being on the HotFix “frontline”. If you choose this route, make sure to keep up with Security Updates through WSUS as they often contain protection against the latest threats and zero-day attacks targeted at SharePoint and related products.


Here is a link to SharePoint updates by version and month: This is a page that I have bookmarked in my Favorites Bar and I’d recommend you have it close by also.

After selecting your update, you’ll want to download all files to a designated folder.

For 2013 CU’s you’ll also want to copy this script: and save it as a .ps1 file in the same folder as your update . Then, again, copy it to each SharePoint Server in the same folder as the update files. (The above link is a great example of the aforementioned “gold nuggets”!)

Then open the SharePoint Management Shell as Administrator and run the .ps1 file from the previous step. Again, this step can be run in parallel on all servers.


Roll it out

After your updates are installed, you’ll need to apply the updates to SharePoint by running the Upgrade. This part will be done one server at a time, starting with a server which hosts Central Admin, then any remaining Application servers, and then your Web Front End servers.

You’ll accomplish this by running the following command:
PSConfig.exe -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -wait -cmd applicationcontent -install -cmd installfeatures -cmd secureresources

There will be 7 steps which need to complete successfully before moving on to the next server.

(Note: If you receive an error about missing updates, run the following command: Get-SPProduct -Local and then run your PSConfig command again)

After the upgrade is complete on all SharePoint servers, it’s time to…


Wrap it up

There are many things you can check to ensure the update process completed successfully; I’ll just highlight a few.

-First, you definitely need to check Central Administration. There you’ll find the “Upgrade Status” and the “Check Product and Patch Installation Status” pages. Makes sure everything looks good in these two sections and that none of the installed patches are listed as “Missing” (this font color will be red and easy to spot). I’ve had it happen on more than one occasion where I needed to manually download a particular item from this list and install in manually.

-Verify your Object Cache Accounts are configured by running in the SharePoint Management Shell:
Get-SPWebApplication | %{Write-Host “Web Application: ” $_.url “`nSuper user: ” $[“portalsuperuseraccount”] “`nSuper reader: ” $[“portalsuperreaderaccount”] “`n”}

-Of course, you’ll want to physically navigate to your pages and make sure everything looks good.

-If you’re using Office Web Apps, try opening a few documents in the browser and verify there are no errors.

(Disclaimer: As stated, this is intended to serve as a helpful resource and is no way intended to be a comprehensive guide to SharePoint Updates. There are many unique factors in each farm and each should be weighed carefully and planned for accordingly using Microsoft’s latest available documentation.)

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