December 16, 2009

Tip 21: Don't Read That SharePoint ULS Log

This tip is for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and may apply to SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010.

A very good tool to use when troubleshooting SharePoint are the Unified Logging Service (ULS) logs located at %ProgramFiles%Common FilesMicrosoft SharedWeb Server Extensions<VERSION>LOGS and have the file name SERVER-DATE-TIME.log. I talked a little about the ULS diagnostic logging in tip #7; Set Diagnostic Logging Back to Defaults. When it is time to look at the logs to troubleshoot an issue it can be very overwhelming to see a text log file that is 1MB – 4GB in size! “How in the world am I going to every read through these logs.” is probably going to be the first thing going through your mind when opening one of these gigantic files in a text editor like Notepad. I am going to show a little trick to filter out some of the noise so you can just concentrate on what is important in the logs.

You may already have the tool I am going to talk about on your very machine, it is Microsoft Office Excel. That”s right; good old, or new Excel, if you are looking at using Office 2010. 😉 The trick is that the ULS logs are written in tab delimited format. So you can open the .log file in Excel and then use the sorting and filtering of Excel to filter only the following categories: Exception, Unexpected, Critical and High. These are a good start to track down major issues that is affecting the SharePoint farm. The Monitorable, Medium and verbose are less important to start with. Using the filtering of Excel should get some of those 500,000+ line text files down to a more readable amount.


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