Before going to patch your SharePoint farm with a new Cumulative Update / Service Pack / Public Update. you should first check the below questions:
- What’s the latest Cumulative Update that is already installed on a SharePoint Farm?
- What’s the difference between Cumulative Update, Service Pack, Public Update?
- Why and When you should patch your farm?
- What’re the prerequisites for installing a new Cumulative Update?
- How can you install a new Cumulative Update, Service Pack, and PU?
- How can you install a new Cumulative Update in SharePoint 2016?
In this article, I’ll answer the above questions.
What’s the Farm Patch Level / latest Cumulative Update that already installed on SharePoint Farm?
You can get the farm build version through the following methods:
Using the SharePoint Detector Goole Extension
You can easily detect the latest cumulative update that already installed on your farm or in other farm using my SharePoint Detector google extension.
- No need to access the Central Administration.
- No need to run PowerShell Script.
- No need to log in to your SharePoint site.
Just find the build number and the latest cumulative update for your farm at the push of a button. To install the SharePoint Detector, check SharePoint Cumulative Update Detector.
Get the Farm Build Version via SharePoint Management Shell.
- Open SharePoint Management Shell as administrator.
- Run the following Cmdlet’
Get the SharePoint Farm Build Version via Central Administration.
- Open Central Administration > System Settings > Manage Servers in this farm.
- Below Farm Information > Check the Configuration database version that is the farm patch level of the farm (Build Farm Version).
In some cases this version number is not updated after applying the CU, so it’s not considered a trusted version number. For more details check SharePoint patching demystified
Get the Products and Patches build numbers that already installed on the farm.
- Go to Upgrade and Migration > Check product and patch installation status.
- You could check all the installed products in the whole farm or on a specific server.
- Check the install status and version columns for all installed Products/Patches.
Get the Database build number within the farm.
- Central Administration > Upgrade and Migration > Review Database Status.
- Manage Database Upgrade Status > Click on Content Database name.
- Get the database Schema Versions.
Get the Farm Build Version via SQL Server:
- Open SQL Server Management Studio.
- Open the Content Database > Versions Table.
- The Farm build number is the corresponding value of versionID start with ‘0000000-000’ that is ‘15.0.4569.1000‘.
- The version table also shows the Database Sequence build number that is ‘18.104.22.168‘ & ‘22.214.171.124‘.
After you get the farm build version, you’ll be able to get its corresponding release.by browsing the below links based on your SharePoint version.
- For SharePoint 2010 Build Version Number.
- For SharePoint 2013 Build Version Numbers.
- For SharePoint 2010/2013/2016 Build Version Numbers.
Then search for the corresponding release with the farm build number as shown below:
In my case, the related release of my farm build number ‘15.0.4569.1000’ was SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1.
What’s the difference between Cumulative Update, Service Pack, Public Update, etc.?
SharePoint Cumulative Updates (CUs):
- Is an update accumulated only for a particular component in SharePoint product as (Excel Service, Search, …., etc. ).It includes fixes for problems that have been reported by the customer in a context of support cases.
Server Packages (also known as “Uber” Packages):
- The “Uber” packages which are usually released with each CU not only include patches for the components updated in the current CU, but also all patches released for other components of the product. So they are very similar to a mini service pack.
- In the past, Microsoft always shipped a “Uber” package with every CU. But August 2014 CU was the first CU where no ” Uber” package was released.
Public Updates (PUs):
- Public Updates are also cumulative updates – but only include those packages which include updates which should be distributed to all customers. Public updates are either security fixes or other fixes which are recommended to be installed by all customers as they address issues which affect many users. A public update is always a subset of a CU, and CU is a subset of Uber Package.
- SharePoint PUs are cumulative – so installing the Excel Services PU from March will also apply the changes to Excel Services included in February PU and also all other fixes which were added to the same package in previous CUs. But as March PU does not ship any changes for the Search component it will be required to also install January PU to ensure that your system is properly patched with all public updates.
Critical On Demand Fix (COD)
- Is a fix which is provided only to a small number of customers affected by a critical problem directly through Microsoft Support to provide quick relief. The code change in the COD will be included in one of the next CUs, and it is advised to install that CU on top of the COD as soon as it has been released.
- Is a combination of previously released fixes, fixes which have only been released in a context of the service pack and potentially new functionality added to the product.Each service pack sets a new patch baseline while CUs don’t set such a baseline. The patch baseline is the starting point for patching. Looking at the second picture above (the one explaining the “Uber” packages) you can see that the CU only included fixes for Search but not for any other component. The reason is that no fixes have been released for other components since the patch baseline was defined. When a service pack is installed on the server, the patch baseline is set to this service pack.
A feature pack is a group of new product features and functionality updates that were requested by customers.
SharePoint 2016 has two Feature Packs.
- Feature Pack 1 is delivered in November 2016 Public Update for SharePoint Server 2016 that contains the following features:
- Administrative Actions Logging
- MinRole enhancements
- SharePoint Custom Tiles
- Hybrid Auditing (preview)
- Hybrid Taxonomy (preview)
- OneDrive API for SharePoint on-premises
- OneDrive for Business modern experience (available to Software Assurance customers).
- Feature Pack 2 is delivered in September 2017 Public Update for SharePoint 2016 that contains the following features:
- The foundation of modern web part hosting and editing experiences, including core SPFx APIs, SPFx package deployment, and property panes.
- All the features previously included in Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016.
What’s the difference between feature pack and service pack?
- The service pack is a tested, cumulative set of all hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and updates. It mainly concentrating on solving the issue related to the performance, security, and stability of the service.
- The feature pack is mainly concentrating on the functionality, Design changes, and new features that were requested by the customer.
For more details check SPFx for SharePoint Server 2016.
Why and When you should patch your farm?
Why: Every Month, Microsoft has been releasing a new update to satisfy their customer requirement by adding new improvements or solving a known security, performance issues.
Therefore, you should follow up the monthly release to recognize the new improvements and the fixed issues to optimize your organization farm.
It’s not recommended to apply the latest Cumulative Update that released on the current month, It was launched a short time ago, no much people try it.
When: Sometimes, you might face an issue in your farm that couldn’t be solved unless installing the appropriate update on your farm.
Therefore, it’s recommended to install the CU that will solve a specific issue in your farm, by checking the improvements and issues that should be fixed before applying the cumulative update.
It’s not recommended to install SharePoint update on production environment until tested on dev/test environment.
What are the prerequisites for installing a new CU for a SharePoint Farm?
You should first read the prerequisites section in the release page to know all prerequisites like the pending CU that should be installed before going ahead to the new one!
Besides the instruction mentioned in the prerequisites section in the release page, you should take care of the following:
- It’s not recommended to install SharePoint update on production environment until tested on dev/test environment.
- Perform a full backup before starting the update process because you can’t rollback the Cumulative Update Installation.
- It’s recommended to install the CU that will solve a specific issue in your farm, by checking the improvements and issues that should be fixed before applying the cumulative update.
- The update process requires downtime, so you should schedule a new RFC with an outage to apply a new patch.
SharePoint Server 2013 SP1 is a prerequisite to installing all the coming cumulative updates.
The SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1 does not include the Language pack Service Pack 1, So you should apply Language pack Service Pack 1 separately after applying SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1 to avoid the below error.
How can you install a new Cumulative update for a SharePoint Farm?
The SharePoint should be updated through two steps:
This process requires downtime, so you should a schedule a new RFC with outage to apply the new patch!
- Download and Install the package update like CU, Service Pack, PU …etc.
- As I elaborated before, you can download the corresponding release of the farm build by clicking on KB number e.g.,”2817429″ to get more details about the release like description, Improvement, Known Issues, Download link and prerequisites.
- Run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard.
You should make sure that you have already performed a full backup before starting the update process because you can’t rollback the Cumulative Update Installation.
To run the SharePoint configuration wizard via PSConfigUI.exe
- Log in to the main application server that hosts the Central Administration with a Farm account.
- Go to Start menu > Type SharePoint Configuration Wizard.
- In step 9, you will note that it’s performing an upgrade to SharePoint Products.
Start to run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard on the main application server that hosts the central administration.then continue with other servers at the same time without order.
To run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard via SharePoint Management Shell
- Log in to the main application server with a Farm account.
- Open SharePoint Management Shell as Administrator.
- Run the following PSConfig.exe command
PSConfig.exe -cmd upgrade -inplace b2b -force -cmd applicationcontent -install -cmd installfeatures
- Repeat all the previous steps on all SharePoint servers in the farm.
Once the SharePoint Configuration Wizard is finished successfully on each SharePoint Server in the farm, you should
- Go back to the Central Administration > Upgrade and Migration > Check upgrade status.
Recall: you can’t rollback the CU installation.
- Ensure that the status of each server is succeeded.
If the upgrade process failed, you should check the logs and try to solve the root cause of the faiuler. In the worth case, you don’t have other option rather than restoring the farm backup.
How can you install a new Cumulative Update in SharePoint 2016?
In SharePoint 2016, as each SharePoint installation comes with a language-independent and a language-dependent component. It is required to install both (language independent – language dependent) fixes to fully patch a SharePoint server!
If additional language packs are added later (only) the language dependent fix has to be applied again.
What does that mean?
First, In any case (Only SP 2016 or SP2016 with Language Pack), you must do the following:
- It’s mandatory to install both fixes, the sequence does not matter!
- Run the Sharepoint Configuration Wizard after all fixes installed!
Secondly, To install a new Language Pack later on a farm that already patched with a specific CU, you should do the following:
- Install the new Language Pack.
- Install the language dependent fix of the current CU installed again!!
- Run the Sharepoint Configuration Wizard
- Zero downtime patching requires high-availability of each server role at least two servers per role is required.
- There is no zero downtime patching on single server farm.
- The Zero patching is introduced only in SharePoint 2016, the SharePoint 2013 does not support the Zero downtime patching.
For more details check Install a software update for SharePoint Server 2016