Cascade Skyline - with Microsoft Logo and Project Support header - author Brian Smith

May, 2007

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    A couple more cube build error messages you might come across.


    A couple more cube build error messages I have seen recently.  The first is related to a time out with Analysis Services 2005 and the clue is that failure will be just over an hour into the build (assuming the timeout is still the default 3600 seconds).  The error is:-

    • Failed to build the OLAP cubes. Error: Analysis Services session failed with the following error: Failed to process the Analysis Services database <cube name> on the <Analysis Server name>  server. Error: Internal error: The operation terminated unsuccessfully
    • Internal error: The operation terminated unsuccessfully. Internal error: The operation terminated unsuccessfully. OLE DB error: OLE DB or ODBC error: Unspecified error. Errors in the OLAP storage engine: An error occurred while processing the 'Assignment Timephased' partition of the 'Assignment Timephased' measure group for the 'Assignment Timephased' cube from the <cube name>  database.

    The first part of the error message will be localized if you are using a MUI - the second will not.

    To resolve the issue set the advanced property ExternalCommandTimeout to a value that will allow the building of the cube.  The default is 3600 (seconds) which is one hour.  Increasing to 36000 will be ten hours.  The value could be increased further or reduced depending if the cube builds within this modified time.

    To change the value of the timeout property go to Management Studio for SQL Server 2005 and connect to Analysis Services.  Right click the server name in the left pane and select Properties.  Check the option to Show Advanced (All) Properties then scroll down to ExternalCommandTimeout.  Change the value in the Value column then click OK.  A restart is not required.

    Another workaround would be to reduce the complexity of the cube build by either limiting dates or removing some or all added dimensions.  This workaround is unlikely to be a workable answer for most customers.

    The fact that a restart of the service is not required leads me to the second error message, which can appear if you do restart and then immediately try another cube build:-

    • Failed to build the OLAP cubes. Error: Analysis Services session failed with the following error: Failed to connect to the Analysis Services server <Analysis Server name>. Error: File system error: Error opening file; \\?\C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.2\OLAP\Data\DBCUbe260.0.db\0.CryptKey.bin is not a disk file or file is not accessible. Errors in the metadata manager. Processing for the database will be disabled because an error occurred while loading the '<random cube name>' database cryptography key. One possible reason for this error is that the service account has changed. File system error: Error opening file; \\?\C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.2\OLAP\Data\FarmPWA.0.db\0.CryptKey.bin is not a disk file or file is not accessible. Errors in the metadata manager. Processing for the database will be disabled because an error occurred while loading the 'FarmPWA' database cryptography key. One possible reason for this error is that the service account has changed.

    There may well be other scenarios that give the same error, but for the scenario where you have just restarted the server then just try the build again and all will work. 

    Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Uninstalling Project Server from a farm? Don't forget to run PSConfig!


    If you have Project Server 2007 installed on a farm on top of Office SharePoint Server 2007 then if you uninstall Project Server the final screen will remind you to run the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard (PSconfig - where PS stands for post setup, not Project Server).  Failure to run the wizard will leave you in a state where SharePoint will not work and if you look in InetMgr you may be shocked to see all your web sites gone!  Don't panic - just run the wizard and all will be well.  Well almost all.  If you have set host headers on sites I understand you may need to re-set these as the uninstall un-sets these.  We are investigating a better way to ensure a more reliable uninstall experience.

    Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Please Use the SharePoint Backup Options!


    I guess many of you read all of the different blogs coming out of Microsoft from Treb, Christophe and others so I try not to repeat stuff - but there are some new postings concerning backup and restore and migration of data between servers.  The links are referenced on Christophe's blog.

    So to add value I'll concentrate on some problems I have seen - and hopefully convince you that having a full SharePoint backup of your farm is a good idea! 

    So two recent cases I worked on involved firstly one setting a new IP address for the SQL Server, and the second was actually changing the name of the SQL Server itself.  The first should not have been an issue; once DNS was up to date all would have continued OK.  But initially it gave errors indicating the database could not be contacted and the troubleshooting steps followed involved creating a new configuration database.  This is fairly common practice for WSS issues but in the new world of Office Server you also need to have a full SharePoint backup to make it easy to get your Shared Service Providers and Project Web Access sites (and data) back.  Unfortunately in this case there was no full SharePoint backup - but as there was really nothing wrong with the initial configuration database (it was just inaccessible for a while due to DNS issue) we could just re-run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard, disconnect from the new config db, then run again and connect to the old config db and everything was back working!  Be aware that the search and Project application services (and possibly others) will need re-starting in Central Administration, Operations, Services on Server.

    The renaming of SQL Server is a bigger issue.  In hindsight a good fix would be to just set an alias to the new server with the name of the old server and SharePoint would be happy.  If you have a named instance then the port is variable so a simple hosts file entry is not enough.  The article mentioned above details moving from one server to another and this is really what you are doing - assume your change of name for SQL is really a new server and have that full SharePoint backup ready!

    One thing I thought might work (and it didn't - so worth stopping anyone else wasting time) was to just re-run the configuration wizard pointing to the configuration database by referencing the new SQL Server name.  This seemed to work - but many of the internal references were still looking for the old server name and I could not find a good (supported) way to correct these.  However with the SharePoint full restore you can resolve this.

    I'm sure there will be some readers who take this as a challenge and come up with steps to resolve the SQL renaming issue without having to use the restore method and I would be very interested to hear your results.


    Technorati Tags: Project Server 2007

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    Support options for Microsoft Office Project


    I really welcome the great comments and contact I have from readers of my blog and I often take the issues you are hitting as topics for future blogs - but it isn't possible for me to give you a good support service via my blog.  If it is an obvious problem with a one line answer I will try and steer you in the right direction - but for deeper issues this is just not possible. gives details of the various support offerings from Microsoft - including no cost options such as self support and the community help at  A tremendous part of the community are the newsgroups where many of our Project MVP's are involved (fantastic job guys!) along with many of you - all helping each other.  Microsoft.Public.Project, Microsoft.Public.Project.Developer and Microsoft.Public.Project.Server are the ones to look for in your favourite news reader (or Windows Mail in Vista).  You can also browse to the following sites:-

    Please do keep the comments and contact coming as it helps me understand what issues you are running into - but please also understand that I am not able to give detailed support though this channel.

  • Brian Smith's Microsoft Project Support Blog

    To Add or Update - That is the Question. The PSI and custom fields - Updated


    This posting was inspired by a support call concerning custom fields - but does apply to other entities in the Project dataset and others.  The question was around the QueueUpdateProject and QueueAddToProject web services calls that are part of the Project web service in the PSI.  If you use the wrong call then the error message is usually helpful telling you you can't add with the update call and vice versa.  But the thing that does catch people out are the custom fields... 

    By default a project dataset will not contain any rows in the ProjectCustomFields data table unless they have either been set (through PWA, Project Professional or the PSI) or they contain formulae, or are based on a lookup table with a default value defined.  So for a freshly created project (from Project Professional) when looking at Project Information it appears that all custom fields are there - and some may even look to have values (number fields will show 0) whereas in fact once saved there are no rows in the dataset for project custom fields (except as mentioned above - formulae based, and default lookup tables values).  So if you want to set a custom field via the PSI your code should check if there is a row already present for that custom field (identify by the MD_PROP_UID or MD_PROP_ID) and if it is there then you can change the value and use QueueUpdateProject - and if it doesn't exist then you will need to create a new blank project dataset and add a new project custom field row and set the values (including a new GUID for CUSTOM_FIELD_UID, the projects PROJ_UID and the MD_PROP_UID for the field you want to set) then use the QueueAddToProject.

    (Update - Although this logic holds true for adding/updating tasks to a Project dataset you can in fact ADD a new custom field row to an existing project dataset and use the QueueUpdateProject method - and it will work.  You do not need to use the QueueAddToProject method - although this will work too, assuming it only contains the additional custom field row!  Thanks to Martin for pointing this out - through experience.)

    Just to confuse the situation we have a bug currently when using the PSI or creating an Activity Plan/Proposal that can duplicate custom field rows.  If you have any project level custom fields that use graphical indicators but do not have formulae then you can get duplicate custom field rows created for each of them.  I'm not sure yet if the bug is they get created at all (as they do not get created in Project Professional projects) or that they appear twice. I will post an update when I have more information.  For now a quick workaround is to not use graphical indicators for this type of field.  Cleaning up existing ones may be a little more challenging and I would suggest a support call.  Although this causes problems for the PSI when updating these duplicated rows (so this affects changes for Activity Plans , Proposals and use of the Edit Project Properties in PWA) you can still make changes in Project Professional through the Project Information dialog.

    The errors you might see - (these are generic so you could see these errors for other root causes):-

    When updating a custom field for an Activity Plan or Proposal you will get an error dialog box:-

    Windows Internet Explorer
    An error has occurred when saving your project to the server. Please contact your system administrator for assistance.

    When updating a custom field through Project Center's Edit Project Properties option the error will display at the top of the page in red:-

    The project could not be saved due to the following reason(s):

    An unknown error has occured (occurred is mis-spelled in the error).

    When updating through the PSI this will result in a GeneralUnhandledException.

    One final point - setting or updating a project custom field for an existing Project Professional created project through the PSI or Edit Project Properties will also introduce this problem.  The extra duplicates will get added as well as the custom field you are setting.

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