SPFest Chicago: Jack Fruh’s SharePoint PowerShell Time Machine

"Gosh that takes me back… or
is it forward? That's the trouble with time travel, you can never

~ The Fourth Doctor in Dr. Who

Attending Jack Fruh's session, SharePoint
PowerShell Time Machine,
at SharePoint Fest Chicago has persuaded me. If you are a SharePoint
Administrator, having a collection of PowerShell scripts running on a scheduled
basis is better than having a TARDIS when it comes to getting information from
the past to save time in the future. (You may argue that the TARDIS is
cooler – and I am certainly not going to disagree – but, if we are honest, we
know that the unpredictability of TARDIS's short-range guidance, relative to
the size of the universe, would make it an unreliable SharePoint tool.)

Clearly the opportunity to
become a Time Lord of SharePoint was appealing to many, and Jack whet our
"wannabe" appetites by demoing some administrator-friendly back-in-time scripts, including:

  • Enabling
    versioning on document libraries

    • Jack showed us how easy it is to not only turn on versioning
      across all sites
      , but also to specify the number of major versions that you want
      to keep so users can easily go back in time to see earlier iterations of
  • Recording current permission levels on sites

    • You know that one day someone is going to find his way to the
      Site Permissions and click Inherit Permissions to see what happens.
      With a scheduled job that records site permissions, recovery is no longer a
      daunting, time consuming process.
  • Estimating your upcoming hardware requirement

    • It's about that time, when organizations plan
      for the next year. Capturing the size of a Site Collection or Content Db on a
      regular basis allows your projections to be based on past growth trends
      rather than a wild guess.

Each of these PowerShell scripts beg
to be regularly scheduled.  If you need a
quick refresher on Windows Task Scheduler, you'll want to take a look at this short video.

Almost as important as capturing
the information is having a logging structure. Each script Jack presented used
variables to give each file a unique time stamp and name. If you are scheduling jobs and outputting
log files to the same directory, including a similar structure in your scripts
will save you time down the road.

Note the script below from Enable Versions on every SharePoint Site with PowerShell (updated with logging):

   1: Add -PSSnapin microsoft.sharepoint.powershell -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
   3: $timestamp= get- date - format "yyMMdd_hhmmtt"
   4: $filenameprefix ="location_where_file_will_be_savedFilename  
   5: $logfile= ("{0}_{1}.csv" -f $filenameprefix, $timestamp)
   8: $header = " this is vary from script to script"
   9: $header| out-file  -FilePath $logfile

# filenameprefix – Identifies
where the files will be stored on your machine and the name of the file.

# logfile – Shows how Jack likes
to format his files, but there are lots of ways to do this.

# out – File will not append, it
will overwrite. However, with the timestamp, it is very unlikely that two files will have the same name.

Some additional handy tips from Jack included:

  • Using * copy filename
    will merge together multiple files. (This
    works from the command prompt, not PowerShell; but think about how easy this would make it to
    present an excel chart of disk capacity over time to support your cry for
    additional hardware!)
  • Use $false not false
  • Notepad ++ is "awesome"
  • Check out this PowerShell Cheat

In the session, he also stated that you'd be given information that you could use your first day back in the
office. Not only is it true, but if you
are a SharePoint Admin, it should not be put off!

"You know how it is; you put
things off for a day and next thing you know, it's a hundred years later."

~ The Fifth
Doctor in Dr. Who

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