Alerts in SharePoint (Troubleshooting MOSS/WSS)


This is the first post about “troubleshooting MOSS/WSS” on a series, defined by topics and Issues.

Other related posts following this series has been published here:
Alerts in SharePoint Part II (Troubleshooting MOSS/WSS)”  
Alerts in SharePoint 2010 (Troubleshooting)”
  

(applies to: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007;  Windows SharePoint Services 3.0)

Content:

 

Alerts in SharePoint 2007

I think one of the most reported and popular issues within SharePoint Server 2007 / WSS (and have been also before on SPS 2003) is:  the “Alert problem”.

First understand whether the emails are even sent out by the SharePoint server. If alerts are sent out by SharePoint and you have seen them through the SMTP traffic then you need to concentrate on the factors external to SharePoint like problems with network or the email server related issues or for that matter, problems with specific email addresses in receiving emails. However if you see that the SharePoint server is not even sending out the emails, you should first ensure that you have followed and configured according to the published TechNet articles here:

Configure outgoing e-mail settings (Office SharePoint Server)
Configure outgoing e-mail settings (Windows SharePoint Services)
Plan outgoing e-mail (Office SharePoint Server)
Plan outgoing e-mail (Windows SharePoint Services)
Configure outgoing e-mail settings for a specific Web application (Office SharePoint Server)
Configure outgoing e-mail settings for a specific Web application (Windows SharePoint Services)

Well, when we’re talking about “alerts” it usually means the “Notification email” that is sent to a user. For exapmle, this is mostly set on a document library where users configuring their “Alerts” for getting notified on certain actions like changes on documents, new added, deleted, modified etc.

The process of creating an alert for the end user is quite simple. The alerting system is exposed in the SharePoint site via links labeled “Alert Me” on the Action menu. The user then selects the circumstances under which and the interval for the alerts to be delivered. There are quite a few options that allow for a variety of alerting scenarios. There are some options when it comes to the circumstances that generate an alert.

There are two elements to these circumstances.  The first is the type of change that will generate the alert:

* All changes  * New items are added  * Existing items are modified 

 

In WSSv3 we have the ability to create additionally a filter to be even more specific so that items the user changes do not generate alerts unless you want it as defined by the filter.
You can also limit the alerts to items created by or modified by the user. 

Additionally you can filter an alert that would appear in a particular view of the list (i.e. Only alert me when one of My Tasks changes /  only alert me when someone adds items that appear in the view [View Name]).

The final option in creating an alert allows the user to choose the frequency (assuming some change) that alerts will be sent.  
The options are to create an immediate alert which are sent at most every 5 minutes (when the timer service runs) or a digest alert which can either be sent daily at a specific time or weekly on a specific day and time.

Unfortunately sometimes the alerts are stop working or don’t work at all for a specific configuration or just don’t work as the end user expects it.
That’s when we start troubleshooting and investigation on alerts and may end by head banging on the wall or some like this πŸ˜‰

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So lets first get through some most common scenarios an alert does not work as we expect! 

The typical issue:

You create an alert on a document library. You get the notification that the alert has been created. But you don’t get any alerts sub sequentially.

So what I‘ll try to tell you today is a little “toolbox“ you can use on troubleshooting your environment while investigating problems with your alerts.

First of all, we should split of some wording when we’re talking about “Alerts”:
– the initial email, sent to you with notification that you have set and/or created an alert
– the following emails (subsequently)
sent to you, when you have configured to be notified on any changes to a document, Item, List entry a.s.o.
– the search based alerts
– the workflow initiated email alerts for i.e. assigning you a task.

 

As you see, we may handle several different kinds of “Alerts” and also why or if they sent or not.
Therefore it is often quiet difficult to troubleshoot the cause of those issues as they may vary each time.

From my daily business I often have very tricky cases and issues. But sometimes and despite the Internet,
some “simple resolutions” also may work based on native settings or better let’s say: 
”why can’t we see the forest about all those trees in front of it?”   sounds simple, doesn’t it?  But I can hear also some “uuuhh yeahhh oooahhh” but what’s the joke?”
 

 

Examples of common issues:

Let’s check some examples where the cause and resolution were quiet simple but not noticed on the first research:
————————————————————————-
Issue 1:  “Some email alerts are sent but some others are not…” 

Problem:

We had users registered for alerts. The “initial email” was sent to the user, notifying him that he just created an alert. Now another user changed the document/item you marked for an alert but you don’t  get it!

 

Resolution:

The resolution was as simple as seeing the “forest behind the tress” πŸ˜‰ When you have typically a load balanced environment and also using an exchange server for all email traffic,
you should have a look also into the
“mail relay settings of the SMTP Server”

 

Cause:

The IP addresses that were configured to allow relay did not include the IP address for one of the front end servers. Adding that IP address resolved the problem.
————————————————————————-
Issue 2:  “All users are getting alerts but only one user not”

Problem:

– In this case, just to keep it short, it was Outlook causing it and moved all email alerts into the “junk mail folder” of the affected user
Simple, isn’t it?

Ok, but this is “fortunately” not the usual case and should be only to show up how troubleshooting sometimes can be so easy
when you’re able to “see the forest BEHIND the trees”.

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Alerts are not working…

Coming back to some more difficult and more interesting causes of almost similar problems:

1. Migration Issue:

One common issue regarding suddenly not working email alerts can occur after migrations and/or detach/re-attach databases to a different web application.

The cause here is  that the issue occurs if the URL of the Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 server differs from the URL of the Windows SharePoint 3.0 server. For example, this issue occurs if the URL of the Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 server is http://ServerNameVersion3, and the URL of the Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 server is http://ServerNameVersion2.

For this you may find a little sample code chunk here, which should you help to fix such an issue:
E-mail notifications for alerts are not sent when content in a migrated list or in a migrated document library changes after you perform a database migration to upgrade to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 (KB 936759)

Resolution: 

Additionally you can also try to fix it by using the new “stsadm -o updatealert” command and the SharePoint Administration Toolkit v4  (x64 version) ; (x86 version).

 

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2. Setproperty- Issue:

Another cause also mostly occurring after migrations is the missing or not correct set property value for the alerts at all or in particular on your site-url. To check those properties you just open a command box, navigating to the 12-hive BIN folder (by default:  C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\BIN…) and run STSADM command line tool

Once on 12-hive, type in the following commands to check all related property settings:

stsadm –o getproperty –url http://YourURL –pn alerts-enabled         
-the expected result should be  <Property Exists=”Yes” />

stsadm –o getproperty -url http://YourURL –pn job-immediate-alerts      
-the expected result should be  <Property Exists=”Yes” Value=”every 5 minutes between 0 and 59” />  
where the Value type may vary.

When  the properties are not set correct or even set but due to migrations, database restore or detach/re-attaching it, the alerts may stop working for no obvious reason.

 

Resolution:

Run the stsadm commands to “set” the properties correct or just to trigger SharePoint once more to processing it.

stsadm –o setproperty –url http://YourURL –pn alerts-enabled –pv True

stsadm –o setproperty –url http://YourURL –pn job-immediate-alerts –pv “Every 5 minutes between 0 and 59″ 

You can specify for the property “job-immediate-alerts” one of the following values:
•”Every 5 minutes between 0 and 59″
•”Hourly between 0 and 59″
•”Daily at 15:00:00″
•”Weekly between Fri 22:00:00 and Sun 06:00:00″

Please see here for options and syntax of the commands:

Alerts-enabled: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)
Job-immediate-alerts: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)
Index for Stsadm operations and properties

 

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3. Scheduled Alert Issue:

Another finally very simple cause is that SharePoint for some reasons sometimes needs to be “reminded” on what’s its job on alerts πŸ˜‰ Latest I had the case with problems on not sent “scheduled alerts”. The initial alerts as well as the immediate alerts were sent properly but no scheduled alert (which is a summary of certain changes, notified daily, weekly etc.) received the user.

After extensive troubleshooting and research we finally just ran again a stsadm command to re-register the alert template on the server and “oh wonder”, suddenly the alerts worked again. 

Resolution:

Run stsadm -o updatealerttemplates -url http://YourURL -f C:\Alerttemplates.xml –lcid 1033

Please see here for options and syntax of the commands:   Updatealerttemplates: Stsadm operation (Office SharePoint Server)

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General Troubleshooting Steps:

First of all, you should verify the most obvious but also mostly not considered options on very simple tests:

– Check your Outgoing Email settings on SharePoint / SMTP Settings on WFE/IIS and/or Mail relay permissions and restrictions.
-> Is email sending in general working? DO you get any email at all from SharePoint?

– Check if your email notifications and/or alerts are fired only partly (i.e.  immediate but not scheduled)
-> If the initial email at all is delivered but no subsequently alert emails, first exclude any Outlook client problems like junkfilter, blocklists, etc.

– Check in SharePoint on Central Admin page, under “Operations” the Timer job Definitions and status.
– Check if the timer jobs finished successfully at all and verify the last date the job was running!

One stage deeper:

– Check the alert properties via stsadm, if they’re set properly (see above “setproperty issue”)

Re-register the alerttemplate again. Sometimes this also may fix already your issue πŸ˜‰

stsadm -o updatealerttemplates -url http://YourURL -filename “c:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\template\xml\alerttemplates.xml” -LCID 1033

Note! LCID is the code for your local language you’re using!

– Check if the issue only occurs on a particular site collection, web application or only a List

(to test this, just create a brand new Web app, Site collection and leave all on default. Create alerts as applicable and check the delivery)

  • If the alerts are fired on a new web app/Site collection, then consider the effort to just export your content from the faulty site and import it to the working site.
  • If the alerts are not fired at all, use Network Monitor, Process Monitor traces, to see if any email at all arrives your mail relay/Exchange server or not. IF required, configure on your mail server the necessary relay permissions for the SharePoint Servers.
  • If the alerts are not working only on certain libraries or sub sites or even just randomly, check for custom event handler or other parts that you may implemented or changed to performing email alerts. Verify all steps before and try to check whether alerts are working on default settings but not on your custom settings.

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Additional Links and related resources:

Alerts in SharePoint Part II (Troubleshooting MOSS/WSS)
Alerts in Windows SharePoint Services
SharePoint Alert Manager

Another very good blog from my colleague Victor Butuza describes the topic “Search based Alerts”
with some further hints and tips on troubleshooting alerts to be fired on search results!

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Some Technical details on Alerts:

Once you have done all the previous investigations and tests but still having no glue or idea what may causing your alerts issue,
you can dig a bit deeper into the SharePoint Mysteries:

 

What’s Under the Hood?
Alerts are processed by the OWSTimer job. In central admin you may see just the “Immediate alerts” job, but this one processes both, the immediate and the scheduled alerts at intervals of every 5 minutes by default. When you create an alert a stored procedure in SQL Server will run to make the database changes to add the alert. Essentially, this inserts various values into the ImmedSubscriptions or SchedSubscriptions tables in the content database. On the SchedSubscriptions table we add some more columns to handle the timing of alert delivery. In these tables are stored some key values we need to flag each alert type for the further processing.

Alerts will be security trimmed at send time, ensuring that unauthorized access to content is not possible.

Security Trimming
Unlike in WSS V2, security trimming will be a key component of the alerts infrastructure SharePoint will check both when the user creates an alert and when sending an alert that the user has permission to view the item.

There are two steps to the process of alerts security trimming:

1.      When list items are added, modified, or deleted:
         a.      SharePoint records item metadata in the alerts event cache for the changed item.
         b.      SharePoint does a lookup on the Permission table for the item and stores it in the alerts event cache as dbo.eventcache.acl.

2.      When alert events match an immediate/daily/weekly subscription:
         a.      Processing is segmented by site collection, so that cached user tokens are used most effectively.
         b.      The users WSS token is retrieved from the User table.
         c.      A request is made to the AD for each receiving users NT token.

3.      An ACL check is done with the stored binary ACL blob, users WSS token and NT token for read access.

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Logging
Alert processing and notification sending will be logged. The following table describes the events logged, in both verbose (logs all events, for reference) and exception modes (exceptional events the admin needs to be aware of).
 

Event

Verbose

Exception logging only

Alerts created

X

 

Alert modified

X

 

Alert deleted

X

 

Alert Filter/Formatting could not be applied

X

X

Alert status was modified

X

 

end e-mail notification successfully

X

 

SMTP server connection not available

X

X

Recipient not found (mailbox error)

X

X

Filter incorrect, user alert and filter deleted

X

X

Begin matching in SQL

X

 

Complete matching in SQL

X

 

Begin XML matching

X

 

Complete XML matching

X

 

Begin ACL trimming

X

 

End ACL trimming

X

 

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Backup and Restore
Alerts will get backed up with site content. Restore will restore alerts for sites.

Generating Alert E-mails
Once the alert is created the system will check for a match every few minutes by looking for changes in the content database. When a change is found and it matches a subscription, an alert e-mail is generated. In the event that versioning is enabled and the user with the alert does not have access to the new version an alert will not be sent. The process that supports this on the server site is the timer service.

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Immediate Alerts
Each list basetype in WSS will have an alert template associated with it, which drives the UI behaviors, filtering, and e-mail content associated with a given alert.
Alert templates will be stored in the property bag for the list if it has been customized. This allows for the case where the list is provisioned from a basetype, and then columns are added or removed from it.
 

The mechanism to support multiple alert templates per list is to have separate toolbar buttons for the list with the appropriate alert template passed in as a parameter on the subnew.aspx page.

SharePoint also supports multiple formats for the field to be rendered in e-mail:

1.      String: Including HTML. Text is truncated at 255 characters, which is set as an attribute in the template.
2.      Image: Image is rendered in the message, and included in the message.
3.      Link: The user is sent a hyperlink, for e-mail and HTTP links.

We collect multiple edits made to a given document/item in a quantum (5 minutes), and represent them as one change. This means, for example, that five simultaneous edits of a document are represented as one change in the immediate e-mail notification (instead of sending five separate e-mails). The e-mail will be formatted as a digest alert.

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Scheduled Alerts
There will be one daily digest sent per web. The sections in the mail are composed of each of the list types or items the user has created a daily alert for (individual sub-sections are defined in the formatting section for daily per alert template).  

  • Multiple edits to the same item appear under one row in the section
    • changed information is aggregated with multiple asterisks in a given row if necessary.
  • The Announcements digest section has the text  “Alert created by ‘UserName'”
    • when creating digests for the user, if content is due to an alert created by another user, this text should be emitted below the digest section for that alert.
  • The links for items take users to item display forms.
  • The links for e-mail addresses or hyperlinks boot a new e-mail message or Internet Explorer
  • The links for lists take users to the default view of a list (Note that SharePoint does not remember if an alert was specific to a view).
  • The list of items is sorted by the list-name alphabetically (item alerts also appear with a list header).

Search based Alerts

Since this is already very good explained from my colleague Victor Butuza, I’ll just add the link as reference here: “Search based Alerts”

 

Database Tables
To follow the trace of an alert process you can look into the content database tables on your SQL server.  

The tables that are most important when alerts are to be generated are the tables in the content database that start with the word event. In general terms, these tables are used as follows:

ImmedSubscriptions

records the immediate alerts settings

SchedSubscriptions

records the scheduled alerts settings

EventCache

Change Log: records all events in SharePoint, so either the alert changes, stores events used in immediate alerts along with an id that is used in eventbatches. The eventtype is also stored in this table.

EventLog

This table contains events for which only non-immediate alerts exist and stores events used for digest alerts;

Keeps processed alerts for last 7 days along with EventData which was present in EventCache before alert got processed

EventBatches

Keeps track of the most recent event that has been processed for alerting, Keeps the last change log ID and time stamp from EventCache after which new processing should start when “Immediate Alerts” job runs

EventSubsMatches

records the timestamp when a scheduled alert has to be processed by the timerjob and used as a temp table during alert processing;

Matches the change log ID with the Subscription ID (alert ID) from SchedSubscriptions table and permission result.

Entry in this table gets flushed once scheduled alerts is sent for that subscription

EventReceivers 

Used for custom event handlers

TimerLock

records the server that processes the timerjobs

   

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How to troubleshoot alerts?

  1. Enable Logging:     
    First of all go to Central Admin page and screw up your
    Diagnostic (ULS) logging to “verbose – All Errors”.
  2. Repro the Issue:    
    Start repro your issue by creating an alert (immediate and/or scheduled) and note the timestamp you started as well as the timestamp you configured the scheduled alert to be fired.
  3. Try to clear the cache (credits to Angelo Palma, who prosted this comment: Thank you!)
    “Go to C:\ Drive (make sure that all hidden folders are available) C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\SharePoint\Config\GUID\, sort by type and delete all files EXCEPT the cache.ini file.
    Once all files have been deleted edit the cache file by opening the file, change the value to 1 and save.”

Perform some actions like changes, deletions, uploads etc. and note the timestamp of changes and wait about 5-10 minutes like this:

1.      On you SharePoint site log in as a regular user.
2.      Create several alerts both immediate and digest (on digest alerts set the delivery time to be the top of the next hour).
3.      Log in as a different user and modify, add, and delete some list items.
4.      Start Outlook on the client machine and view the alerts. You will have to wait until the top of the next hour to see the digest alerts (scheduled)

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Troubleshooting steps

Check if you have received any alert notifications at all!
Check now for specific alerts received or not received (Initial email, immediate alert email, scheduled alert email)

 

SQL Queries
Check on SQL Server if you can find your alert by using these queries for instance:

 1: /* you must gather the ListID from the EventCache Table */ 
 2: select * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[Eventlog] (nolock) where ListID = 'xxx'      
 3: /* if not having the ListID in place */
 4: select top 10 * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[Eventlog](nolock) order by id desc
 5:     
 6: select * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[ImmedSubscriptions] (nolock) where [UserEmail] = ‘User.email@domain.com’
 7:  
 8: /* if not looking for a specific user-email */
 9: select * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[ImmedSubscriptions] (nolock)
 10:  
 11: select * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[SchedSubscriptions] (nolock) where [UserEmail] = ‘User.email@domain.com’
 12:  
 13: /* if not looking for a specific user-email */
 14: select * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[SchedSubscriptions] (nolock)  
 15:   
 16: /* check documents corresponding to the affected list */ 
 17: select * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[EventCache] (nolock)order by [TimeLastModified]
 18:   
 19: select top 25 * from [Content_DB].[dbo].[EventSubsMatches] (nolock) order by id desc
 20:  

 Queries against the “Config_DB”:

 1: select * from [Config_DB].[dbo].[objects] (nolock) where name like '%job-immediate-alerts%'
 2:  
 3: select * from [Config_DB].[dbo].[objects] (nolock) where properties like '%SPContentDatabase%'

Note: System Account is a special account (application pool) for which no security trimming happens. Hence this account will not get digest alerts.

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Check the Grid view for:

  • Can you find your alerts in “ImmedScubscriptions / SchedScubscriptions” table?
  • Do you have a related record in EventCache due to the Timestamp (TimeLastModified) you noted from your repro?
  • Do you see the record for scheduled alert in the EventSubsMatches table?

 

Check also your ULS logs (maybe with ULS viewer) for entries like that:
(by default located at (C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\web server extensions\12\logs)

[…] …Begin invoke timer job Immediate Alerts, id … […]

[…] …AlertsJob loaded 9 of 9 event data records…  […]

[…] …AlertsJob loaded 5 of 5 subscription records…  […]

[…] …Alertsjob results for immediate delivery: 9 prematches, 9 passed filtering, 5 of 9 passed security trimming, 0…  […]

[…] …Alertsjob results for scheduled delivery: 0 prematches, …  […]

[…] …AlertsJob processed 0 daily notifications …  […]

[…] …AlertsJob processed 0 weekly notifications …  […]

[…] … …  […]

  • Can you see any records indicating that your alerts are processed at all?

 

Check your Event log for suspicious errors related to the timeframe and probably containing phrases like “exception,  HResult errors, etc.”.

Check on your Server if the SharePoint services are running under the designated accounts.
(Maybe you can just retype the credentials and restart the service and run  “
stsadm -o execadmsvcjobs” to trigger the immediate job processing)

 

Check if you are on an almost actual patch level as probably the cause of your issue already has been fixed in one of the last updates?

 

So if all those steps are don’t get you closer to the cause you are at least much more better prepared for the next step on calling Microsoft Support for assistance.
With all these troubleshooting steps done before you can provide all these actions to the support engineer and this may speed up the resolution as the Support Guys then can go directly and already narrowed down to a particular area with very deep troubleshooting steps for you!

So hopefully this post could help you somehow. I’ll be on updating this post whenever some new or deeper insights can be published to get this topic a bit more structured in depth and usage.

 

A small update, that I think might become Handy as well on Troubleshooting (from a recent comment on this post):

Comment from Chad, Mon, Dec 10 2012 10:41 PM         
I’ve been working with our AD/Exchange team to figure out why we couldn’t set up an alert to go to a shared mailbox. SharePoint can only set up alerts to send to users or security-enabled AD groups. Once we fixed that, we hit a second problem.

The group mailbox would receive an email when the alert was created, indicating that an alert had been created, but when the items were changed no further alerts were sent.
Turns out, SharePoint security trims alerts, so a user won’t be able to receive an alert for an item he/she doesn’t have access to.

Resolver:  Add the shared mailbox as a reader to the list/library, and boom! Working alerts. :-)

(updated:  2012-12-11)

 

Comment from Manikandan, Mon, Jul 29 2013 8:56 PM
In addition to the above checks, there are few more reasons for alert mail failure. Found this checklist in SharePointDiary.com.

SharePoint Alert Notifications Not Working – Checklist for Troubleshooting:  www.sharepointdiary.com/…/sharepoint-alerts-not-working-troubleshooting-checklist.html

(updated:  2013-07-30)

 

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Stay tuned πŸ˜‰

Steve Chen from daily business and the SharePoint Mysteries…

Comments (45)

  1. olivier says:

    Hello steve ans thanks for all these informations.
    I have a question for you, we saw that a user in vacation dont receive alert anymore.
    When user is back alert seems working.
    I check logs during user vacation and saw a security check failed for user when alert is triggered.
    our web application use windows authentication mode. Don't think it's a token expired.
    What do you think ?

  2. KK says:

    Hi Steve,

    We have a requirment where the alerts (on a list) sent, should be logged and reported to the user when required. This should be achieved only through client side object model. Is this possible?

    Thanks,
    KK

  3. Chet Chudasama says:

    I have two SharePoint 2013 Farms one in the Uk and US, both have 4 web applications with numerous site collections and subsites.

    Users can create alerts and they also receive the confirmation email. When anyone clicks "Manage my alerts" on any library there are no alert subscriptions. When I go to "user alerts" in site settings on any site regardless of farm, instead of having a drop-down
    full of users all I have is "None"

    I created a new site, created an alert on a library and I received the confirmation email. When I add or change a document I do not receive any alert. When I click "Manage my alerts" on that library there are no alerts.I created a new web application and went
    through the same process on a site collection and subsite. Again I can see no alerts on the "Manage My Alerts" page.

    Both farms have a central web application for the Intranet, the one in the UK was an upgrade from a 2010 web application and the US was built from new.

    I've been through most of the guides mentioned, checked logs, cleared out the cache. Outbound emails are set-up and working fine and so are inbound emails. I don't know if this is related but both farms were built using AutoSPInstaller from codeplex. I've also
    checked that the logs sent out the coinfirmation email

    08/19/2014 15:48:20.14 w3wp.exe (0x3D9C) 0x3704 SharePoint Foundation E-Mail ajs4z Medium Successfully sent e-mail message to recipients: ***********@******.co.uk. Mail Subject: You have successfully created an alert for 'Posts' a40eb09c-c8da-f0b2-a294-9b5e169dc1e4

    Would you have any suggestions how to troubleshoot or if there's anything obvious that I may have missed??

    Thanks

    Chet

  4. Brett Cartwright says:

    After working through many of the steps above, I was still facing the problem of initial notifications of alerts being set up coming through successfully, while immediate alerts were not.

    SMTP test from all servers was successful so mail was working. Only one Web Application out of 4 was failing. The environment uses DNS to segregates some of the webapps.

    After restarting the Windows SharePoint Services Timer on the server that handled that web app, the situation was resolved.

  5. Brad Larson says:

    SharePoint 2007 WSS 3.0

    I have an issue, our users create a document library alert, when something is created it is emailed and tells them what was added. We have one person who adds the documents in the document library and when the automatic email goes out to the document library
    subscribers, it shows a document has been added, but nothing in regards to the name or link to the document. When other persons add to the document library, the notification goes out to our customers that the file was added and the link and name to the proper
    file. This has been going on for months? Any help would be appreciated…. Thanks All, Pulling out my hair on this one, not much left…, ha ha…

    Brad

  6. Anonymous says:

    Since I blogged the first two posts a while ago regarding " Alerts in SharePoint (Troubleshooting

  7. Manikandan says:

    In addition to the above checks, there are few more reasons for alert mail failure. Found this checklist in SharePointDiary.com.

    SharePoint Alert Notifications Not Working – Checklist for Troubleshooting

    http://www.sharepointdiary.com/…/sharepoint-alerts-not-working-troubleshooting-checklist.html

  8. Steve - Quadrant says:

    Thanks a bunch. Saved me a lot of time.  Went through your troubleshooting steps but in the end it was the comment/'resolver' about the access to the list that helped the most!

    THANK YOU

  9. Chad says:

    I've been working with our AD/Exchange team to figure out why we couldn't set up an alert to go to a shared mailbox. SharePoint can only set up alerts to send to users or security-enabled AD groups. Once we fixed that, we hit a second problem.

    The group mailbox would receive an email when the alert was created, indicating that an alert had been created, but when the items were changed no further alerts were sent. Turns out, SharePoint security trims alerts, so a user won't be able to receive an alert for an item he/she doesn't have access to. Add the shared mailbox as a reader to the list/library, and boom! Working alerts. :-)

  10. Hakan Bardavit says:

    Thank you for the great article and trouble-shooting steps. I have tried many of things that you have mentioned in your article. Unfortunately, it didn't fix our issue with immediate alerts. We are using sharepoint 2010.  Our problem is that the users are sometimes alerted and sometimes they are not alerted.  One user may get the immediate alert from one list.  if there is another change in that same list 10 minutes later, the same user may not get the alert from the same list at all. In order to isolate the issue, we are running immediates alerts on one specifc server on that specific content database. I have verified that all the immediate alert jobs are running with success from sharepoint ca monitoring. I am running out of ideas. Any help/ideas is  appreciated.

  11. Ali says:

    Hello Steve. Thank you for your post. In our Sharepoint 2010 farm alerts were not running , after reading your post , I added all our farm servers t SMTP relay, immediate alerts, and alerts for workflow tasks (Assign to item)  begun to work, but suddenly workflow tasks (assign to do item) stopped to send alert to email, could you help please?

  12. Bunty Shah says:

    Hi Steve,

    i have SharePoint 2007 and the user is getting initial alert that  he is added in document library but when any one changes the library at that time he is not getting any alert this happens for all users in that library.. could you please tell me what are the points i need to check to fix this issue?

  13. Marc says:

    Steve,

    Yes I tested it with a user that has full control over the site and the list, he received the confirmation but not any alerts.  If he creates an alert for himself on the same list he gets the confirmation and the alerts.

    Marc

  14. Marc says:

    I am having an issue with alerts where if I create and alert for myself I get the confirmation and the alert emails but if I create an alert for another user they get the confirmation but not the alert emails.  Any ideas how to fix this issue.

  15. Angelo Palma says:

    One thing that I did and it's not located in any blogs and was the best result to solve this issue is to clear the cache for the alerts.

    Go to C: Drive (make sure that all hidden folders are available) C:ProgramDataMicrosoftSharePointConfigGUID, sort by type and delete all files EXCEPT the cache.ini file.

    Once all files have been deleted edit the cache file by opening the file, change the value to 1 and save.

    Voila problem solved!

    Enjoy it!!!

  16. SMishra says:

    Thanks a lot for the great article :)

    I am facing one issue with Alert. We ahve one Post list where Alert Me generates immediate alert for the users who have subscribed to the any Post. Whenever any new Post added, edited or deleted they used to get alerts.

    But in the alert email, the body of the alert which normally contains the Post decsription gets truncated intermittently. Sometimes it is truncated with less than 2048 characters in the Body filed and some times with more than 4098 characters.

    I found in some articles that the limitation is 2048 characters in one line after whcih the new line is expected , else the text will be truncated.

    I am not able to find the logic behind this truncation in default sharepoint alert functionality.

    Could you please give some more insights on this front?

    Thanks:)

  17. Dirk says:

    Do you know where I can find the template that the search alert uses?

    Thanks

  18. Steve Chen [MSFT] says:

    Hi Jesper,

    well it's not that easy to tell you, why you do receive certain emails duplicated. It would be nice to get a screenshot of the "duplicates" to check whether they are really duplicated or just as the screeen in my other post (“ Alerts in SharePoint Part II (Troubleshooting MOSS/WSS) ) where we can see two identical items but one marked as "Edited" and one marked as "New"

    The " just get all alerts in one mail…" part is probabaly that you might have configured a "Summary alert"?

    And for the "sometimes the content is split up over multiple mails" I would also prefer to see a screenshot as this sounds very strange πŸ˜‰

    So if you'll have more help on this I recommend you to open a service request at Microsoft support to investigate the issues.

    Hth, Steve

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Steve for your prompt response!

    Sorry for not including the farm information in the original comment. This is a SharePoint 2007 farm (patch level 12.0.0.6545) and hosted on Windows 2003 R2 standard SP2 (IIS V6.0). The lists where we're having issues on using SharePoint OOB alert template. There are VS custom solutions and 3rd party tools which uses custom templates on certain sites. Since this issue is intermittent (and yet I can't reproduce it) so I can't blame them yet. Also my testing indicates the two WEFs, I got wrong 'please respond to' from also can send correct alerts as well.

    I'm curious to know whether I can force SharePoint to use SMPT from a particular WEF. I tried stopping the service from other two and that did not help (did not receive alert at all until I started the services). Any comments on this?

    Thank you!

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thanks again Steve – your comment is helpful!

    Yes – most of the time an existing email address is being used on the 'please respond to' field (instead of the configured address). Only in one occasion I remember seeing long Chinese character. A number of times I saw that field not populated (left blank). Blank is not as bad as using someone else's email address (and getting complain from that person) πŸ˜‰

    Why you asking about the language pack? Yes we do have 4 language packs installed (SharePoint vairation feature not working though – but people may have created sites in other languages [not for the site in question]) but the alerts are being generated from the base language site (English). Are you seeing any connection here?

  21. Anonymous says:

    @Manikandan:  Thanks for the Addition  πŸ˜‰

  22. Anonymous says:

    These emails are not physically stored but will be triggered by the timer job that sweeps the changelog table and some other associated tables relying on the "subscriptions". So once the timer job can execute the remaining items it will then create on-the-fly the email alert with its according entries that are pulled out of the related table rows and flags. Thus there is no convenient option to "delete" those emails and they'll get fired even if 7 days or more old but not older than the retention time you configured for the changelog.

    HtH, cheers, Steve

  23. Anonymous says:

    reply to:  SMishra 02-09-2010 9:01 AM,

    also sorry for the late response in your case!

    Well, this isue is not really short answered and should be investigated by MS Support engagement. I assume that this can only be checked when we can repro it inhouse @ MS Support and an escalation engineer may debug or verfy the code what the truncation is coming from.

    So I only can send you to MS Support and open a case for this problem!

    I'm sorry,

    cheers, Steve

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hi Marc,

    hmmm… then it might be caused by whom creating the alert. Try to check the database for the alert you're looking for and check the xml string for the difference in both cases (when you creating teh alert and when the user himself does it).  Also you can look on http://www.codeplex.com if there is any other tool to help you with the alert check.  As long as the user itself get's the expected results and alerts, MOSS will work fine. The problem of creating alerts for soembody else may be a "by design" issue and I haven't had any cases like this. So I'm sorry, this is once more better asked by a Support request to investigate it further.

    But as mentioned before, just try to go through my post first and investigate the difference, if you or the user creates the alert πŸ˜‰

    cheers, Steve

  25. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ali,

    i fear, that I cannot manage this just witin a post comment :-(

    There is no "fix-it" button for your scenario as workflow alerts handling is a special part and needs deeper investigations.

    Maybe you can re-edit the workflow even if you dont change anything, just triggering the email task process might help you already.

    If not, please raise a support case and we will digging deeper into it πŸ˜‰

    cheers, Steve

  26. Anonymous says:

    Hi Chad,

    many tha nks for the valuable adds ,-9  migh become Handy for others too,

    I'm gonna add this into the post as an update πŸ˜‰

    Thanks and cheers, Steve

  27. Anonymous says:

    The Problem: SharePoint alert emails aren’t received, including the the initial notification email. When subscribing for an alert, after clicking OK the alert page hangs indefinitely. Sending email from the server hosting SharePoint using Telnet/SMTP works.

    The Cause: Sophos Antivirus version 10 and greater changes the Winsock order putting entries above MSAFD Tcpip [TCP/IP] in the protocol stack, which blocks SharePoint from sending any email through SMTP.  You can use a command prompt to look at the protocol stack order using:

    netsh winsock show catalog

    Solution 1 (ideal): You can run sporder.exe to view and reorder the stack and make sure that MSAFD Tcpip [TCP/IP] is at the top. Sporder.exe is a part of the Windows Platform SDK.

    Solution 2: Uninstall Sophos version 10.2 from server with SharePoint and rollback to 9.7.

    Reference Links:

    blogs.msdn.com/…/sharepoint-2007-alerts-not-triggered.aspx

    http://www.sophos.com/…/116980.aspx

    support.microsoft.com/…/2000689 (applicable, but their example about vmware is too specific)

    msdn.microsoft.com/…/ff851942

  28. Anonymous says:

    A lot of useful information in here Steve.  Thanks for posting.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Great post Steve! Any SharePoint admin knows how painful alert troubleshooting can be :-(

    I've a wired issue and hoping you can provide some suggestion. In my case OOB alerts are received fine but once a while "Please respond to" field shows a random email address (in one occasion some Chinese characters). I suspect SMTP on two out of the 3 WFEs are behaving wired – as never saw this issue with alerts sent from the 3rd WEF. We use Domino server for emails and apparently our Notes guys don't see any issue from their end. Tried restarting SMTP services with no luck.

    Any suggestions how I can narrow this down?

    Many thanks in advanced!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hi Marc,

    well, this is the most typical issue, when you get the initial notification but no subsequent email alerts on changes. In your case, YOU creating an alert for SOMEBODY ELSE!   When you go thruogh my post above, you'll find a lot of steps to check how and if at all the alert is processed or not.

    The other thing is:  the initial alert is created by an event handler but the base alert notification is processed by a timer job. So it's not easy just to pinpoint you to a single place to fix. Did you check if the User for whom you created the alert does have the permission to the site/library, the alert is linked to?  Else, I can just push you to the post above, going down all steps to check where the alert gets stuck or not even processed and the simple permission check for that particular user πŸ˜‰

    Hth, and BTW:  ULS logs on verbose are  a good resource too.

    P.S. maybe you can try to use the SharePoint Alert Manager spalertmanager.codeplex.com to get more insight of the problem πŸ˜‰

    cheers, Steve

  31. Anonymous says:

    First of all thanks for an excellent post on this issue! Really help to understand what goes on behind the scene.

    I used your troubleshooting technique to see if I could figure out why some of our users sometimes recieve multiple alert email when they have made an Daily summary subscription. Every thing looks ok, I can see the SchedSubscriptions and the items in EventSubsMatches, but sometimes they recieve two (or more) identical mails and sometimes the content is split up over multiple mails. And at other times they just get all alerts in one mail…

    Do you have any ideas as to why this could be or any hints to where I migth look for a clue?

    Thanks in advance.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Very good content, congratulations.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @BlueSky2010:

    I'm sorry for having missed your post that long time πŸ˜‰

    Well, basically the alert process is using the default settings of the initial page and Site settings, which is in your case maybe the english version. SO even within a translated site in your specific language, the template behaves still with the basic language and thus you might have that result.

    I'm afraid that this is by design, as we do not translate into each language or "variation" our basic alerts templates.

    Hope that answers your questions,

    Cheers, Steve

  34. Anonymous says:

    Hi Dirk (your comment from 25-08-2010 3:33 PM),

    sorry for the late response, havent been "alerted" (curious, isnt it?) of your comment and therefore not realized to answer soon!

    So back to your Question:  the search alert templates are hardcoded out-of-the-box taken from "OSS.Search – template". So you'll probably not really "find" it somewhere.

    Thus it will also be hard to customize if you intentd to do this! And therefore as well not easy to roll back, once modified.

    We had a RFC request on "customizing search alert template (OSS.Search) – Is it supported?

    The answer was more or less 'yes' but I would not recommend it.

    The template is installed and activated with a farm scoped feature. Even forcing the reactivation of the feature won’t establish the OOB template. Therefore you may be in trouble if having issues with a customized search alert template and beeign requested by MS Support to revert back to repro your problem! Bearing this in mind, you can go the extra mile with developers to "custimze" the alert template as desired.

    Hth,

    cheers, Steve

  35. Anonymous says:

    Hello Ken,

    Thanks for the valuable add πŸ˜‰

    Yes, AV-solutions can really cause some issues as well with SharePoint. Nice finding and well explained Tshooting and solution!

    Appreciate your comment πŸ˜‰

    Thanks and cheers, Steve

  36. Anonymous says:

    Have you went through all the steps I described?

    if not, please go through all steps as outlined above, there are lots of steps to check. If this does not help, then please rais a support case at MS.

    Cheers, Steve

  37. Steve [MSFT] says:

    @Chet:
    sorry for the delay – to your topic:
    1. the initial alert is a separate process and may work although no alerts ever was saved.
    2. If you don’t see any configured alerts under "manage my alerts" then this never got stored and hence no subsequent emails on changes will be sent.

    pls try this:
    – run the above described stsadm commands and go through all of them,
    – verify the output and validate they are all ok or set as expected.
    – check the section "migration issues" and check all the stsadm –o setproperty cmdlets either w/o URL parameter and see if this is set properly.
    – Re-register the alerttemplate
    – check which server is currently executing the timerjobs / see also in databases for the "timer locked by.." –this needs to be an existing server!

    if all ends to no avail, pls raise a support ticket for deeper investigations πŸ˜‰
    Hth, cheers, Steve

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hi Bluesky,

    the alerts are being processed by the timer job. So this timerjob can run on any of your servers in farm at a certain time and7or even in paralell. Thus you cannot dedicate a single server to compute the alerts only, unless you remove all but one servers from the farm ,-)

    So once the issue is random and not trackable by any additional parameter like a n error message, or any otehr noise in the ULS logs, you might not be able to narrow down the problem.

    Are those random mistaken email addresses exists in reality and inside your company?

    Do you have multi language support enabeld on MOSS and are these alerts in question coming from sites/pages with these languagepacks on it?

    The only idea i have is to constantly tracking the outgoing smtp traffic until the issue reoccurs and then try to find out when the email address in respond to field is filled in.

    Sorry but no more idea on this else,

    Cheers, Steve

  39. Anonymous says:

    Hello bluesky,

    I'm very sorry, but without any specific details like an Error or more detailed information I cannot say much.

    First of all, do we talk about MOSS 2007 or SharePoint 2010?

    What patchlevel (Build-Number)?

    Are the SMTP services based on the IIS settings on each WFE? – what operating system/IIS version?

    As it is a "random issue", can somehow force to repro it on demand?

    Did you changed or customized in any kind teh alert template?

    Are there any visual studio codings implemented, that using alerts as well?

    Basically, the alerts are sent out from SharePoint (same on MOSS or 2010) via the SMTP option from IIS. These are very simple and just sending out, whats opposed to be sent. So there should usually not happen any modification for the "respond to" field.

    This field is filled with what is configured in the "sent from" field, in your outgoing email settings.

    The timerjob then grabs the alöert information and creates the email based on teh template and pushes it over the SMTP out to the world.

    So considering, you using an external SMTP host to sent emails from SharePoint, then its a relay issue and needs to be looked up on the SMTP server side.

    if not, then you can only try to capture it on occuring with a netmon trace on the affected WFE – Lot of fun πŸ˜‰

    Otherwise, you should call MS Support as then it is needed to work on it with an engnieer and more sophisticated tools to grab the dude πŸ˜‰

    HtH, cheers, Steve

  40. Anonymous says:

    Hello Hakan,

    sorry for the long delay- I was quiet busy πŸ˜‰

    Regarding your problem, I'm sorry but this needs to be investigated by a support engineer more in depth. We cannot handle a full troubleshooting walk-through via this blog post, Therefore I'd kindly ask you to submit a Support case where we can dig into this problem deeper.

    thanks and sorry,

    Cheers, Steve

  41. Steve [MSFT] says:

    @Brad Larson: If this is really just happening for only one user and always the same one, then you should check the user profile of that specific user. Maybe just removing the user entirely from userinfolist and re-adding it with a full profile import
    do fix it.
    So as long as all other getting the alert email including the correct body and content with working link to the doc, this is likely not an alerts issue, since the alert template that is used to build the email seems to work fine and alert settings itself as
    well.

    I’d go investigate that single user account. Maybe first deleting all subscribed alerts for that user before removing it from site will also do the trick.
    If that all wont work, then raise a support ticket and let it our folks troubleshoot.

    kr, Steve

  42. Anonymous says:

    Hi Angelo,

    thnx for your comment. it's true that this may help in most cases immediately to get back to normal working alerts but the cause is still disclosed, why an item in the cahce did stopping the common processing. So if you feel happy with this, it is fine πŸ˜‰  Else, it maybe will not entirely resolve the root cause and neither preventing you from reappearing of this issue.

    Jm2c,

    πŸ˜‰

  43. Anonymous says:

    Hi Steve,

    I have SharePoint 2007 and Issue 1:  β€œSome email alerts are sent, but some others are not…”  and I solved it. When the alerts start working, the users receive alerts notification email from the past seven days.

    Where is this email queued on the server site and how you can delete them?  

  44. Anonymous says:

    Hey Steve,

    I've got a great one for you.

    In a farm, with two WFE's and one App / Index / Search server, we've created a list, with anonymous access enabled.

    As the site SCA, I've registered for alerts, with immediate changes.  I received the initial email notifying me of the alert subscription.  A co-SCA adds an entry to the list, and I get no emails.

    The co-SCA repeats the process, and gets ALL emails.

  45. Steve [MSFT] says:

    @KK:
    Well, out of the box the alerts are configured for being sent either immediately, daily weekly, a.s.o.
    simply option: User can set a rule in Outlook to collect all alerts and get back to them as needed
    Using CSOM I’m not sure about never have tsted nor tried it yet.
    Certainly it may require a custom developing solution such as a custom workflow vbia visual studio or so to get that achieved but not sure if this willwork as intended.

    the sent alerts are not stored nor capotured by SharePoint. These are computed by the OWStimer job and fired once the alert reaches the according state.
    So you assumably would have either configure a shadow account that also recieves the alerts and store them then back into a custom list on SharePoint which then can be viewed, filtered when needed and all the other logic you want to implement etc.

    Might be that there are some other possible ways but you need to test and develop it your own.

    HtH; cheers, Steve