Sometimes when you try to launch the TFS backup tool from the TFS Admin Console, you might notice that nothing happens. It just refuses to launch or silently dies. You basically have no clue why it fails to launch. You might get a stack trace of an exception like the below:

 

[Info   @16:37:52.805] GetToolsPath C:\Program Files\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010\Tools\

[Info   @16:37:52.891] Process starting: fileName=C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools\Team Foundation Server Backup Plan\AdminPTHelper.exe arguments=

[Info   @16:37:55.718] Process finished: fileName=C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Team Foundation Server 2010 Power Tools\Team Foundation Server Backup Plan\AdminPTHelper.exe arguments= exitCode=0 in 2817 ms

[Error  @16:37:55.825]

Exception Message: Object reference not set to an instance of an object. (type NullReferenceException)

Exception Stack Trace:    at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.Models.PageExternalDatabasesViewModel.FillList()

   at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.Models.PageExternalDatabasesViewModel.PageExternalDatabasesViewModel_PropertyChanged(Object sender, PropertyChangedEventArgs e)

   at System.ComponentModel.PropertyChangedEventHandler.Invoke(Object sender, PropertyChangedEventArgs e)

   at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.MVVM.NotifyPropertyChangedDispatcherObject.SetAndRaisePropertyChanged(Boolean& propertyDataField, Boolean value, String propertyName)

   at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.Models.BaseWizardViewModel.InitializePageInputs()

   at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.Wizards.WizardBackupPlan.Initialize()

   at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.BackupNode.OnManagementAction(ActionClickedEventArgs args)

   at Microsoft.TeamFoundation.PowerTools.Admin.BackupPlanSummaryPanel.LinkActivated(Object source, LinkActivatedEventArgs e)

 

The most likely cause of this, as I had observed in a few of the incidents that this happened is because you had inadvertently introduced a configuration change to the TFS. Some of the things along these lines are:

  1. Any host name changes, that you did, but did not follow up with effectively remapping into the TFS configuration DB
  2. You mucked with the SharePoint sites URL remapping or just SharePoint server configurations which were being used by TFS, but did not make the corresponding changes at the TFS side.
  3. You made a change to the FQDN of any of the servers that are involved in the TFS operation, such as SharePoint, but did not change the SharePoint Redirect URL mapping using the SharePoint Admin tool.
  4. Suffice to say most of the times you had made some changes that TFS was relying on for its configuration to work correctly, but did not effect the changes on the TFS end of the house.

 

Troubleshooting and diagnosis:

  1. The first step is to run the Best Practices Tool on the TFS instance – do a complete Health Check.
  2. Review the errors and correct the ones that pertain to CORE configuration of the TFS. If is related to any such configuration issues as I stated above the BPA will catch it.
  3. In the case it’s a SharePoint Address Redirect Issue, you will have to go the SharePoint Redirect Mapping from the SharePoint Configuration tool and correct it. You can either correct the URL redirection at the SharePoint configuration side OR come to the TFS Admin Tool and go to the SharePoint node and correct the URL Mapping there.

Hope this is helpful.

 

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