Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal Server (SPS) is a complicated product that makes it easier to manage documents in your organization. Because SPS is so complicated, it can be troublesome to deploy. In this Daily Drill Down, I’ll explain the preparation that can make installing SPS a snap.

Avoid known problems
The SPS installation program works well if all of the building blocks it needs are in place. If you’ve installed another program on your server that could conflict with SPS, you could be in for some problems, unless you take evasive action.

One key conflict can occur between SPS and Exchange 2000. SPS is based on the same database as Microsoft Exchange: the information store. In SPS, this database is called the Web Storage System. This common heritage makes SPS especially sensitive to Exchange. Therefore, you should make sure that the server on which you’ll install SPS has never had Exchange on it. Although it’s technically possible to run both Exchange and SPS on the same server, it’s strongly discouraged.

Another place where SPS can conflict with other products is Office Server Extensions. These are extensions included in Microsoft Office that allow a Web server to be viewed just like any file folder. These folders are called Web folders. SPS includes its own version of Web folders. Unfortunately, the way that Office Server Extensions implements Web folders is incompatible with SPS.

Finally, you’ll want to keep SharePoint Team Services (SPTS) off the server on which you’ll install SPS. As mentioned in the Daily Drill Down “SharePoint helps you build a portal for your users,” SPS and SPTS are very different products, even though they share a similar name. Still, there are enough overlapping areas to cause conflicts if you install both on a new server.

If you’re starting to think that you should put SPS on a completely new server that’s never had anything installed on it except for service packs and patches, you’re right. While this isn’t possible all of the time, it’s something that you should consider, particularly if you’ve attempted an installation that didn’t work out.

Preparing the system for installation
As with any installation, you’ll want to minimize the other programs running on the server, including services. You can use the Services applet in the Control Panel to stop nonessential services like SNMP agents and the File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Server. These services will slow down the installation process and could even cause problems. Do not, however, stop the Web Publishing Service, since SPS will need that service during the installation.

Finally, you definitely want to disable any virus-scanning software during the installation. After you install SPS, exclude the SPS data directory from scanning. Non-SPS-aware virus-scanning programs tend to corrupt the SPS Web storage system, which can lead to data loss.

Antivirus solutions for SharePoint Portal Server

For information on antivirus protection for SharePoint Portal Server, see “Microsoft’s position on Antivirus Solutions for Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server.” You can also check the SPSFAQ Web site for more information on SPS antivirus solutions.

Installing SharePoint Portal Server
Installing SPS starts with placing the CD in the drive. When the SPS splash screen appears, select Server Installation. This will start the SPS installation wizard. You can jump back to the SPS splash screen and click Exit to close the screen—you won’t need this Autorun menu any longer.

The first step of the actual server installation is just like installing most other Microsoft products. It starts with the welcome screen, which lets you know that you’re about to install SharePoint Portal Server. Clicking Next will either lead you to a warning message about an upgrade of Microsoft Search or advance you to the license agreement screen.

If SQL Server 2000 is already installed on your server, the SPS installation program will warn you that the full-text catalogs created by SQL Server 2000 will be expanded to support the updated Microsoft Search service that is included as a part of SPS. Your primary concern is disk space. The upgrade process requires another 1.2 times the amount of space in use by the largest index. This message, although ominous, is harmless if you have the necessary space. If you receive this message, click Next.

If SQL Server isn’t installed on your machine, you’ll be presented with the license agreement screen. Read the license carefully. On this screen, you must select the I Agree option before you can click Next to continue the installation. If you don’t agree, Setup will end.

The next screen asks you to enter the CD Key for the product. Like most of Microsoft’s newer CD Codes, the CD Key is a set of five five-digit alphanumeric codes. The codes are case insensitive, so you can enter the letters in either upper or lower case. Once you’ve entered the code correctly, click Next.

The next screen in the wizard asks you to select the location to store both the program files and the data files. Note that some files will be installed on the boot drive no matter where you install the SPS programs. The Web Storage System is always installed under C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Storage System. Click Next when you’re ready to proceed.

Moving the data files

You can move the data files after the system has been installed, but you’ll need to download and use a special utility called CATUTIL.

The final screen before the actual installation begins is the SharePoint Portal Server Indexing Settings screen, shown in Figure A. On this screen, you must provide the user ID and password that SPS will use when indexing content. The account you choose should have full access to all of the files you want to index. SPS is smart enough not to show files that people don’t have access to in the search results, so it’s OK to use an account that may have more access than the typical user. Once you’ve entered the account to use for searching, click Next.

Figure A
You must specify a user ID and password to allow SPS to index files.

The installation program will show a progress screen that will reset itself several times, so don’t worry if that happens. This is the part of the process where you can run into errors. If you’ve read the SPS FAQ and made sure that your installation met all of the requirements, this screen should pass without incident in less than 20 minutes.

If you do have problems, you’ll want to go back and search the Microsoft Knowledge Base on the errors Setup displays. If you find hits in the Knowledge Base that seem similar to your problem but refer to Microsoft Exchange, remember that SPS and Exchange use the same core database, so problems that happen to Exchange installations sometimes happen to SPS installations. It may be worth your time to dig into the Exchange Knowledge Base articles as well as those specifically for SPS.

When you’re done, you’ll see a screen that shows the components of SPS that were installed. You can click Next to acknowledge that the product has been installed. The final screen is the typical confirmation screen that thanks you for installing the product. Click Finish and the installation program ends.

Installing Service Pack 1
Before you begin to use your new SharePoint Portal Server, you should install SPS Service Pack 1. The first step is to download the service pack, or install the CD. If you’re downloading the service pack, you’ll have to download multiple files and extract them to a directory on your system. Once these files are extracted, you can run the launch program, launch.exe, and select Server Upgrade. The setup program’s steps are familiar, except that you won’t need to select directories to install in or enter a CD Key.

Once you’ve completed the service pack installation, you should go ahead and reboot the server to clear out any memory remnants and to ensure that SPS is able to restart when the server is rebooted. Your next step after that is to create a workspace so you can use the SPS installation.

Creating a workspace
The first step in working with your new SPS server is to use the SharePoint Portal Server Administrator to create a customizable workspace. Click Start | Programs | Administrative Tools | SharePoint Portal Server Administration. From there, right-click your server’s name and select New | New Workspace. This will display the New Workspace Wizard, which will walk you through the steps required to create the workspace.

The first step in the wizard, the welcome screen, offers some information about how you’ll access the workspace when the wizard is done. Click Next to proceed.

The next step is to enter a name and description for the workspace, as shown in Figure B. The description will only show up when you’re looking at the SharePoint Portal Server Administrator, so you don’t need to write a description that a user could understand. When you’re done, click Next.

Figure B
You must provide a name and description for your SPS workspace.

You’ll then see the Workspace Content screen. The information you enter on this screen will be seen in various places around the workspace. However, SharePoint also uses it to notify individuals of internal problems. For instance, if subscription notifications aren’t working correctly, the designated workstation contact will receive a warning. (Subscriptions notifications happen when a user requests to be notified when a document changes.) Click Next when you’re ready for the next step.

The final step is to confirm that the settings you’ve entered are correct. If you’re satisfied that all of the information you’ve entered is correct, click the Finish button. The wizard will close and a dialog box will be displayed briefly while the server creates the workspace for you.

Close the SharePoint Portal Administrator, which you only need to manage workspaces. Since you’ve created your workspace, you won’t need it again until you decide to add more workspaces.

You could go to the workspace now, but before you look at a blank portal, let’s get SPS to add data to it.

Adding a content source for searching
During the workspace creation process, SPS added a new place in your My Network Places icon. This icon will be named workspace On computer, where workspace is the workspace name you selected when creating the workspace, and computer is the current NetBIOS name of computer.

To manage the workspace, double-click this new addition. From there you need to select Management | Content Sources | Add Content Source to add a content source to the system.

Content sources allow SPS to index files that are not contained within the workspace itself. Content sources can index Web sites, file shares, other SharePoint Portal Server workspaces, Exchange server public folders, and Lotus Notes databases. By indexing multiple sources, SPS can bring together multiple repositories of data for a single access.

As with other wizards, the first step is the welcome screen. Clicking Next takes you to the list of content source types that SPS can index. To set up a file content source, select the File Share option in the list and click Next. You’ll then see the screen shown in Figure C.

Figure C
The Content Source Wizard allows you to create file shares.

Enter the name of the file share that you want to index. You can enter the name in UNC format or URL format. By default, SPS indexes the folder and any subfolders contained within it. If you don’t want it to index all of the subdirectories and files under the UNC path, select Only This Folder. It’s unclear why you wouldn’t want to index all of the subdirectories, but at least SPS offers you the option. Click Next to continue.

The next step allows you to name the content source. This is an important step because you’ll need a way to identify one content source from another as you add more sources to your workspace and start to index more content. Click Next when you’re done.

In the final step, you have the option to start indexing the content source immediately or wait until the schedule for content indexing occurs. In most cases, you’ll want to start the content indexing immediately. Click the Finish button. Close the Content Sources window (and any other open windows) and you’re done configuring your workspace to search.

Searching the content source
The final step is to use your new workspace searching feature. You may need, however, to wait a while before searching if the content source that you created is large because it may take time for SPS to completely index all of the data in the workspace. That being said, you can play with the index as it’s being created if you just can’t wait.

Go to the workspace that you created by entering http://computer/workspace at your administration workstation’s Web browser. It’s important to note that you won’t be able to use localhost as the computer name. Because of the design of SPS, you must use the computer’s NetBIOS name when using the workspace.

On the top of the dashboard is a search dialog box. Enter a search term and click Go. You’ll receive a list of the results that matched your search term. SPS will look through the full text of the documents in the content source for the match, so if you enter a popular word you may find a large number of results.

Do it right the first time
These steps will help you install SharePoint Portal Server correctly the first time. Taking the time to prepare by avoiding known problems and minimizing conflicts can save you a lot of time and trouble down the road.