Exception: Microsoft.SharePoint.SPException: User cannot be found – Sharepoint 2010 Installation Failure

Today I found myself trying to install Sharepoint 2010 on my laptop running Windows 7 Enterprise. After reading all of the caveats about doing such a thing, I still needed to get this done. The post that I followed was from Microsoft: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee554869.aspx. Seemed pretty straight-forward: pre-configure, install prerequisites, blah, blah, blah. And it was all blah, blah, blah, until:

Error #1:

Failed to create the configuration database.
An exception of type System.Security.Cryptography.CryptographicException was thrown.  Additional exception information: The data is invalid.

Well…great. I received this error after I had successfully installed Sharepoint 2010 and was just starting up the Sharepoint 2010 Configuration Wizard.

After searching around for awhile, I came across a post that said this error is related to permissions on the Sharepoint directory. The Network Service account needs Full Control permissions on it.

So, navigate to %commonprogramfiles%\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14 and give the Network Service user Full Control on that folder and all related subfolders and files.

OK. Got that error out of the way. Now to rerun the Sharepoint 2010 Configuration Wizard. And…

BOOM!! Error #2:


What the heck?! This error proved to be more of a pain to diagnose. But again, Google to the rescue. A little background first though.

My computer is part of our domain here at the office. We have two wireless networks which do not talk to one another (for reasons not important). I found that this little error is related to the fact that the Configuration Wizard is trying to use my user credentials from AD to try and reach out to the Domain Controller for verification/authorization.

However, I was not on the network that had the Domain Controller on it. (My computer likes to randomly change wireless networks without telling me about it). So, all that I needed to do was to hop onto the wireless network with the Domain Controller and rerun the setup.

Woot!! Success!

I finished the Sharepoint Configuration Wizard, error free, and now have Sharepoint 2010 installed and working on my Windows 7 Laptop!


Death by SQL…an Act in Two Parts

CartoonHow common is it to run into performance issues with SQL Server? Daily?  Hourly? Maybe for you, it’s a common existence; and for that, I’m sorry. And how are some ways that you deal with performance degradation in SQL? I’d venture to say that, for most, it would involve juggling indexes, statistics, etc. on the tables in question. But what about going about this all differently?

What if we take a step back and look at the code itself? Maybe the code is the problem, not the server performance. Since running across SQLServerCentral in the early days of my BI experience, there were a few blog posts and articles which have stuck with me throughout. One such article, More RBAR and “Tuning” UPDATEs, has been of great help to me.

This article opened up my eyes to a completely different way of thinking when it comes to performance problems within SQL Server. I highly suggest reading it before continuing with the rest of my post here.

I ran into this “tuning” problem the other day when working with some Fact records that I was trying to tie to a Type 2 Dimension. I have about 37,000 school enrollment records for which I need to find the appropriate Student ID surrogate key among 273,000 different student records. It seemed pretty simple enough:

  • Link the Fact record to the Dimension record using the Student Number
  • Based upon the Fact record’s registration date column, place the record with the correct version of the Student

Act 1

There are two different ways to construct our SQL statement to get this job accomplished: either set-based or row-by-row (see RBAR above) Obviously, one is much more preferred above the other method. Take, for example, the code below (RBAR):

UPDATE [PreStage_FactSchoolEnrollment]
SET [AlternateStudentID] =
    (SELECT TOP 1 DS.[StudentID]
    FROM [DimStudent] DS
    WHERE DS.[EffectiveEndDate] >= [FactSchoolEnrollment].[RegistrationDate]
        AND DS.[StudentSISID] = [FactSchoolEnrollment].[Pupil_Number]
    ORDER BY DS.[EffectiveEndDate],DS.[StudentID])
FROM [FactSchoolEnrollment]
WHERE [PreStage_FactSchoolEnrollment].[ID] = [FactSchoolEnrollment].[ID])

Seems innocent enough, right? However, there is a huge performance issue with this query. Below is a screenshot of one particular piece of the actual execution plan from this query above. Remember our record counts: ~37,000 Fact records and ~273,000 Dimension records.


That’s right…that number circled above is over 8 BILLION rows that were created in memory!! (8,465,578,262 to be exact). This is the base problem with RBAR queries. In essence, this query, as it is currently structured, queried and stored the ENTIRE dimension (all 273,000 records) for EACH of the incoming Fact records (37,000). That is where the 8.4 Billion records are created. Notice that this update took over 48 minutes run. There isn’t an index in the world that is going to help this type of performance monster.

Act 2

Enter set-based SQL. How about we reconstruct this query as a set-based query instead? Look at the differences in the SQL below:

UPDATE PreStage_FactSchoolEnrollment
SET PreStage_FactSchoolEnrollment.AlternateStudentID = ISNULL(b.StudentID,-1)

BY EffectiveEndDate ASC) as rownum, Pupil_Number, sub_b.StudentID
FROM FactSchoolEnrollment sub_a
INNER JOIN DimStudent sub_b ON
    sub_a.Pupil_Number = sub_b.StudentSISID
WHERE (sub_b.EffectiveEndDate >= sub_a.RegistrationDate)) b
WHERE PreStage_FactSchoolEnrollment.Pupil_Number = b.Pupil_Number

This end result of this query is EXACTLY the same as the above query; the only difference is that this query took all of 9 seconds to return data. Now that’s a performance gain!


Now, understandably, it may not be feasible to rewrite your SQL code because of different constraints. But, if you can, at all, (and I’m pleading with you here), PLEASE try to rewrite the code itself. You will be surprised at how much of a difference syntax can make!

How to Restore a Corrupt Database in SQL Server 2008 (Error 1813)

I ran into this issue the other day, and thought that I’d blog about it. I had copied a database from a co-worker (MDF files only, unbeknown to me) that I needed for my work. However, he forgot to include the Log file for the associated database in the backup that I received(!) Consequently, when I went to restore the database onto my local machine, I was greeted with a very ‘friendly’ message from SQL Server saying that my database could not be restored.

If this had been any other situation, I would have just gone over to my coworker and asked him to give me a copy of the Log file as well (after having chastised him for giving me a bum backup). However, when this situation occurred, we were at two different physical locations, and I didn’t have a way to get over to where he was.

After googling around for a little bit, I ran across a TERRIFIC post that saved my bacon.

Basically what the guy did is created a dummy database, took SQL offline and swapped the MDF files out, brought SQL back online (effectively putting the database into SUSPECT mode), then put the database into EMERGENCY mode, and had SQL re-create the LDF file. Genius!

I can attest to the fact that this works on SQL Server 2008. My database was 27GB in size, so it may take a while to create the LDF file. For me it took about 30 minutes to recreate the file.

Hopefully this post will help someone else out with the issue that I was facing!

How to Pivot Data in SSRS

Pivoting data can be tricky to say the least, whether the actual pivot is done in SQL Server or Reporting Services. There are cases to be had for both approaches, only to be constrained by your reporting design requirements. I’ve done both and had a very good reason for doing each one its own way.

On one report, I knew that my column headers were always going to be the same, no matter what group of data I was running the report against. In this instance, I let SQL Server do the pivot operation.

In another report, I knew that my column headers were going to change depending on the parameters that were passed into the report. In this case, I had no choice but to let SSRS do the pivot.

If I had a choice, I would do the pivot in SQL Server instead of SSRS, if not for simplicity’s sake. I’m more of a coding type of guy. However, there are instances where you cannot avoid a pivot in SSRS. This tutorial will walk you through the steps of setting up a report in SSRS to pivot data on the fly.

First, we need some data to operate with. The data below is what we are going to start with:

grp INT
,SortOrder INT
,AssessmentTitle NVARCHAR(50)
,AssessmentLevelLabel NVARCHAR(5)
,LevelScaleLow INT

,1 AS SortOrder
,‘Biology’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘I’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,110 AS LevelScaleLow
,1 AS SortOrder
,‘Biology’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘II’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,138 AS LevelScaleLow
,1 AS SortOrder
,‘Biology’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘III’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,147 AS LevelScaleLow
,1 AS SortOrder
,‘Biology’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘IV’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,159 AS LevelScaleLow
,2 AS SortOrder
,‘Math’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘I’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,116 AS LevelScaleLow
,2 AS SortOrder
,‘Math’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘II’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,153 AS LevelScaleLow
,2 AS SortOrder
,‘Math’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘III’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,174 AS LevelScaleLow
,2 AS SortOrder
,‘Math’ AS AssessmentTitle
,‘IV’ AS AssessmentLevelLabel
,198 AS LevelScaleLow

This is how your table should appear:

grp SortOrder AssessmentTitle AssessmentLevel LevelScaleLow
1 1 Biology I 110
2 1 Biology II 138
3 1 Biology III 147
4 1 Biology IV 159
1 2 Math I 116
2 2 Math II 153
3 2 Math III 174
4 2 Math IV 198

This is ultimately how we want our data to appear in the Report:

Level Biology Math
I 110 116
II 138 153
III 147 174
IV 159 198

Since this data can change depending on the Assessment that we pass to the stored procedure, a Matrix is going to be needed in the report in order to facilitate dynamic columns. As I have discussed in an earlier post, a Matrix is needed for situations where dynamic columns are required. Else, you can get by with using a static table.

Now that our data is setup for our tutorial, it’s time to start working with pivoting the data in SSRS.

  1. We need to create a new report and add a Matrix dataset to it. Here, I’m assuming that you have already created a data source and populated it with the data from the table above.
  2. Grab the Matrix from the Toolbox and drag-n-drop it onto the Report. The Matrix data region provides helpful clues as to where you need to place your fields, specifying Rows, Columns, and Data.
    1. If we look in our table above we can tell that our Rows are going to be the AssessmentLevelLabels with their associated LevelScaleLow values, and the columns are going to be the AssessmentTitles.
  3. So, for Rows, select AssessmentLevelLabel, for Columns, select AssessmentTitle, and for data, select LevelScaleLow.

Grouping and Sorting is automatically done when you assign the fields to the Row Grouping and the Column Grouping (AssessmentLevelLabel and AssessmentTitle in our case).

Now, run the report, and VIOLA! Notice that your data is now displayed in the pivoted format!

This approach of pivoting the data in SSRS instead of in SQL Server has a couple of advantages:

  • You don’t have to design the report to accommodate every single column. This isn’t such a big deal in our example, since we ultimate only have two columns that end up as output. But imagine if you have the possibility of having 30 columns at any one time. You have to design the report and place out every single one of the 30 columns. What a pain!
  • Portability – If you decide to drive your pivoted data from a stored procedure, and you are using this pivot across multiple reports, then you only need to go to one central location to make your changes, and they will all be propagated to each report.

That’s all there is to it! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.

How to Save Yourself From Yourself

Have you ever wished there was some sort of magic “undo” button for something that you just did? Maybe you didn’t really mean to delete all 10 million records out of your table. You just forgot a little thing called a constraint. Such was the case with one of my co-workers recently. He accidentally deleted all of the tables out of the database. On the bright side though, it did give us the ability to test our disaster recovery plan!

To make sure that you don’t have to unwillingly test your disaster recovery plan, there is one easy setting to change in SSMS that will (hopefully) prevent you from making such a mistake.

A co-worker (other than the one who deleted the tables inadvertently) showed this feature of SSMS one day in a weekly code review that we have.

SSMS provides you information in the status bar regarding the server to which you are currently connected. The only bad thing about this is that no matter what server you connect to, there is no real POP of anything to differentiate between environments. You have to physically look down and see what server you are connected to. See the picture below:


In my job, I connect to Localhost, a Sandbox environment, and a QA environment. It would be nice to have the ability to, at a quick glance (ideally out of peripheral vision), be able to tell to which server I’m currently connected. To accomplish this, follow the steps below.

  • In the Object Explorer pane, click Connect —> Database Engine
  • Click Options. The Connection Properties tab is now selected.
  • Check Use custom color, then click Select to choose your custom color.
    • As a rule of thumb, I use Green for Localhost and Red for anything else (Green = Good; Red = CAREFUL!!)


Now, connect to a new instance of your SQL Server, and open a new query window. Notice the status bar at the bottom of the screen:


And, the nice thing is that these preferences are saved until you change them, even if SQL Management Studio is closed. So, as has been famously coined before, “Set it and forget it!!” Hopefully this little trick will save you from yourself. I know that it’s saved me a time or two!