SharePoint Strategery

Best used when *strategy* breaks down... (blog by Brian Pendergrass, Microsoft SharePoint - Premier Field Engineer)

Blind spots in Usage file and Web Analytics Reports

Blind spots in Usage file and Web Analytics Reports

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In my previous post (Troubleshooting SharePoint 2010 Web Analytics), I referenced a problem that can occur when exceeding the daily partition size for the LoggingDB, which generates the ULS message “[Partition] has exceeded the max bytes”. Below, I wanted to provide some additional info on this particular issue and help identify some options if this occurs. As an aside, this post only applies if you are missing portions of Usage data - think blind spots on intermittent days or user activity regularly sparse for the afternoon/evening. If this fits your scenario - read on. But if Usage logs are outright missing, go check out my Troubleshooting post first.  

Background on the problem:

The LoggingDB database has a default maximum size of ~6GB. However, SharePoint evenly splits this total size into fixed sized logical partitions – and the number of partitions is defined by the number of days to retain Usage data (by default 14 days). In this case, 14 partitions would be created to account for the 14 days of retention. If the retention were halved to 7 days, the LoggingDBwould be split into 7 corresponding partitions at twice the size. In other words, the partition size is generally defined as [max size for DB] / [number of retention days].

Going back to the default scenario, the “max size” for the LoggingDB is 6200000000 bytes (~6GB) and the retention period is 14 days. Using our formula, this would be [~6GB] / [14 days], which equates to 444858368 bytes (~425MB) per partition per day. Again, if the retention were halved to 7 days (which halves the number of partitions), the resulting partition size becomes [~6GB] / [7 days], or ~850MB per partition.

From my experience, when the partition size for any given day is exceeded, the usage logging for the remainder of the day is essentially thrown away because SharePoint won’t allow any more to be written to that day’s partition. The only clue that this is occurring (beyond truncated usage data) is an error such as the following that gets reported in the ULS:

04/08/2012 09:30:04.78    OWSTIMER.EXE (0x1E24)    0x2C98    SharePoint Foundation    Health    i0m6     High    Table RequestUsage_Partition12 has 444858368 bytes that has exceeded the max bytes 444858368

It’s also worth noting that the exact bytes reported (e.g. ‘444858368’ above) may slightly vary among farms. For example, you may instead see 445226812, 439123456, or something else in the ballpark. The exact number itself doesn't matter, but this error message intends to indicates that the reporting usage has exceeded the partition size for the given day.

What it means:

The error itself is easy to miss, which can lead to substantial gaps in the reporting data (your mileage may vary) if not identified. At this point, I can only advise to periodically check the ULS logs for this message. Down the road, I plan to explore if [Developing a Custom Health Rule] could be leveraged to identify the issue (If you've ever built Custom Health Rules, I'd be interested to hear about your experiences). 

Overcoming this issue also poses a challenge, with workaround options including:

  • Lower the retention

Because the partition size is generally defined as [max size] / [number of retention days], the first option is to lower the number of days to retain the data – the lower the retention, the lower the divisor and thus a bigger partition. For example, halving the retention from 14 to 7 days would halve the number of partitions, but double the partition size to ~850MB (e.g. [6200000000 bytes] / [7 days] = ~850GB partitions). Lowering it to 2 days would result in two ~3GB partitions… and so on.

  • Recreate the LoggingDB with an increased size

The property MaxTotalSizeInBytes is exposed by OM code for the SPUsageDefinition object and can be updated with the example PowerShell snippet below. However, updating this value has no immediate impact because this size only applies when creating a LoggingDB. Therefore, you must create a new LoggingDB for the Usage Service Application. The gotcha: this effectively deletes all prior Usage data because the Usage Service Application can only have a single LoggingDB.

Here is an example snippet to update the "Page Requests" Usage Definition:
$def=Get-SPUsageDefinition -Identity "page requests"
$def.MaxTotalSizeInBytes=12400000000
$def.update()

Create a new Logging database and attach to the Usage Service Application using the following command:
Get-spusageapplication | Set-SPUsageApplication -DatabaseServer <dbServer> -DatabaseName <newDBname>

 

Updated (5/10/2012): Once the new database has been created, you can confirm the setting has truly taken by running the following SQL Query (be sure to replace the database name in the following query with the name provided in the PowerShell above)

SELECT * FROM [WSS_UsageApplication].[dbo].[Configuration] WITH (nolock) WHERE ConfigName LIKE 'Max Total Bytes - RequestUsage'

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