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Viewing SharePoint ULS Logs

We have all been there… SharePoint isn’t working right and the Event Viewer has nothing. A few of my personal favorite errors are;

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Sorry, no screenshot of this one.

Here is another great SharePoint error, courtesy of Ethan Matyas.

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There is no where to turn but the dreaded ULS Logs for these types of errors. These logs will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your SharePoint Farm, unfortunately they tell you everything you ever wanted to know about SharePoint and there is A LOT of things happening in this system.

In the past I have copied and pasted the ULS Logs to Excel to be able to sort and more easily view the logs. However, that doesn’t always work right since copy and paste can get flaky over RDP and even worse using something like Citrix. Overall it is pretty difficult to get the information you need out of these logs… until now.

Over the past few months two utilities have become available through CodePlex and are incredibly helpful. I will detail these two below and give you my quick pros and cons of each software… enjoy!

  • The first is called the SharePoint Log Viewer. This utility is a lightweight application which requires no install, allows you to quickly sort and look through the details of your SharePoint ULS Logs.

Pros: The application runs directly from the zip file so there is no need to install. It’s very basic interface requires no help file but supplies a friendly user interface. There is a search built into the program which makes finding key words much easier.

Cons: The program runs outside of SharePoint so you will still need server access to use the program.

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  • The second application is called WSS / MOSS Log File Reader. This SharePoint Feature installs a menu in Central Administration which will allow you to sort through the SharePoint ULS Logs directly from the SharePoint UI.

Pros: You can view the logs without navigating through the file system. Since the logs are viewed from Central Administration you can view the logs directly from your PC if you have access to the port. Also, since the program comes in a feature package it is easy to install and remove.

Cons: You have to install the software and deploy a feature which makes this program more a proactive solution, verses something you would use on the fly. You have to use the SharePoint Interface to use this program which can be a bit cumbersome for certain tasks and finally since the logs are in Central Administration you cannot use search as easily.

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The bottom line is that most utilities are much better then looking through the ULS Logs in a text file. If you are searching one-off problems then the SharePoint Log viewer may be best for you. However, if you want to continue to keep your ULS Logs visible then the WSS / MOSS Log File Reader would work best. Whichever you go with download one of them. This will save you loads of time!

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