SPDocKit 7: SharePoint Online performance and permissions audit

In this blog post we’re focusing on last week’s webinar given by Toni Frankola and Maja Blazek in which they introduced SPDocKit 7 and its new features.

Since it was the biggest SPDocKit release so far, the SPDocKit team wanted to give you an overview of what’s new and how SPDocKit can be of even greater assistance to you when managing your SharePoint farms.

We reserved the end of the webinar for a Q&A session. Scroll down to find all the questions discussed in the webinar. If you have any questions after watching the webinar, feel free to contact us.




Table of contents

00:56 Introduction & agenda
03:11 SPDocKit Overview
04:47 SPDocKit 7 – new features
12:11 Demo
46:52 Q&A

For those of you who are new to our SharePoint administration, governance, and reporting tool, we would like to briefly describe the SPDocKit. SPDocKit was developed for SharePoint administrators and consultants to help them automate routine administrator tasks. Its main features involve providing the ability to do the following:

  • Generate SharePoint documentation
  • Manage SharePoint permissions
  • Compare SharePoint farms and track changes
  • Monitor farm health and performance

SPDocKit 7 What’s New Quick Guide

In this section, we go over the novelties in SPDocKit 7 which Toni explains in the demo.

  • SharePoint Performance
  • Permissions (Restore permissions, audit permission changes, and health check reports)
  • Document Microsoft Project Server settings
  • SPDocKit now supports both SharePoint on-premises and SharePoint Online

SPDocKit Insights

First on the menu is the SPDocKit Insights feature set. It’s in charge of your SharePoint farm health and makes troubleshooting easier. This feature set gathers all ULS, SQL, and Windows Event Logs which you can then search within a single console. Additionally, it tracks server performance and shows you the status of SharePoint farms. You get an interactive dashboard with an overview of what’s going on in your environment, including information about memory consumption, disk space usage, server health overview, and CPU utilization. Drill down to each server individually for more information and you’ll see that we have specific counters for every environment.

Restore Permissions

Use the built-in SPDocKit controls to grant various permissions. SPDocKit can do everything SharePoint does and even more since it’s handled from a single interface. For example, SPDocKit has various wizards that can clone and transfer permissions, add people to groups, and more.

With the Restore Permissions feature you can restore SharePoint permissions, which means going back to a certain point in time and reverting to previous settings. Here’s what you can restore:

  • Permission levels
  • Directly assigned permissions
  • SharePoint group memberships
  • Missing SharePoint groups

What makes this feature useful is that all these restore actions can be performed within a single console with the help of SPDocKit wizards.

Health Checks

These new reports analyze your SharePoint permissions structure and will give you some hints about what you might improve on your SharePoint site. For example, the reports can show you if you have granted direct permissions to a user directly instead of through a group. As you know, the best practice is to always to assign permissions though a SharePoint group because it’s much easier to make additional changes and keep track of permissions. SPDocKit can also tell you if you have lists with unique permissions. A list with a lot these can cause performance problems. Or, for example, you can check why and where permissions are broken.

Document Microsoft Project Server Settings

Another SPDocKit novelty is that apart from SharePoint farm documentation, you can now document Microsoft Project Server Settings as well. If you have a Microsoft Project Server installed on top of your SharePoint as a service application, SPDocKit can detect that, document and then export everything related to Microsoft Project Server such as projects, calendars, and other.

SharePoint Online

Toni shows you how to connect your SharePoint Online tenant to browse all site collections and get a detailed overview of your SharePoint Online permissions. SPDocKit can manage SharePoint Online permissions in the exactly same way as you would have done it with our other tool, CloudKit 365 which we have replaced by upgrading SPDocKit and making it more powerful.

What’s new with SPDocKit for SharePoint Online:

  • Permission Explorer
  • Permissions Reporting and Analysis
  • Externally and Anonymously Shared Content
  • Permission Management Actions
  • Permission Compare

Externally And Anonymously Shared Content

You might be especially interested in the externally and anonymously shared content reports. You can identify external people with whom something was shared so you can double-check whether these people still need access to the previously shared content. Also, you can see the externally shared content and hierarchy. With the anonymously shared content report, you can see a list of all the documents in your SharePoint site collection that someone might have a direct link to even without signing in. These features can be disabled in the SharePoint console.

Compare Servers In Your Farm

With SPDocKit you can compare servers, including IIS Servers and SQL Servers. For example, if you have five servers in your farm like Toni did in the demo and two servers performing the same role, you can use SPDocKit to compare the two servers to make sure they have the exact same settings.

Permission level usage reports

For some customers who create a lot of custom permission levels, SPDocKit has a feature that can show you a list of all your site collections, and for each, the names of permission levels used. You can see the ones no one is using and remove them.

New Best Practices

SPDocKit 7 brings you two new best practices reports. The first checks whether your farm is in the trial mode, just in case you forgot to enter the license key. The other refers to additional search options; it checks whether the search services are enabled. It’s very common for customers to forget to configure this, which results in offline search.

Q: Does Governance document generation also work on Office365 SharePoint Online?
A: Yes, you can use SPDocKit for SharePoint Online reporting as well. The difference being that with SharePoint on-prem SPDocKit can retrieve a lot more information about your system. In an online environment, you don’t know what kind of servers you’re running on and you don’t care, but SPDocKit does have site structure reports and permission management features are in the SPDocKit for SharePoint Online.
Q: Am I able to get all the information from the Dashboard to a report to use them in daily reports?
A: SPDocKit doesn’t have this perk, however our other tool, SySkit, is developed for monitoring server performance among all other things so be sure to check it out. In SysKit, you can schedule any type of report to be delivered via email.
Q: Is the refresh rate for the Insights Dashboard configurable? If so, what are the options? Is the event list in Event Viewer a merge of all farm members?
A: The list is a merge and when you see the results, they’re coming from different servers which you get from a single dashboard. Then you can filter the results by different servers. Currently SPDocKit doesn’t have the option to display results from different farms in a single view – you need to chose a farm when querying from different farms. In terms of collecting and configuring these options, you can choose the event sources from which these events are then gathered – ULS logs, Windows Event logs or SQL Server logs. You can even filter them by different topics. Then for configuring the agent, you can choose how often it’s going to collect the data, as well as choose data retention options.
Q: Are Alerts in Event Viewer available in Consultant subscription?
A: Event Viewer Alerts are currently unavailable in the Consultant subscription. However, you can use Event Viewer to manually load the logs at your client’s environment.
Q: Where is SPDocKit installed? Does it use server agents? Does the monitoring processing not affect the server performance?
A: The SPDocKit collection agent only needs to be installed on one machine. My advice is that this machine should be a non-SharePoint machine. Any virtual machine in your environment can retrieve that information on a SharePoint site. SPDocKit is not intrusive and we don’t collect performance counters every second so it doesn’t strain your servers.
Q: Can u run a report to get all document IDs per site collections?
A: SPDocKit currently doesn’t document IDs.
Q: Do you have a cleanup for limited access?
A: SPDocKit doesn’t have this report, however it does have a report that lists users without permissions which you can then delete.

Q: RESTORE BACKUP BASE: How long does the system keep the history to restore from? Is it in line with the Recycle-bin settings?
A: No, SPDocKit doesn’t refer to Recycle bin settings. You can configure your own data retention. SPDocKit keeps snapshot for a year however you can configure that to be even more than a year. Those snapshots don’t really take up a lot of space. Additionally, you can configure some snapshots to be stored forever.

Q: Is Project Online supported or only Project Server? 
A: Unfortunately, SPDocKit currently doesn’t support Microsoft Project Online.

Q: Does SPDocKit support SharePoint 2016?
A: Yes, SPDocKit supports SharePoint 2010, 2013 and 2016. In case you have a SharePoint 2007 environment, refer to the Future of SPDocKit and SharePoint 2007 blog post.

Q: Do we need separate instances of SPDocKit for our on-prem and O365 farms?
A: SPDocKit for on-prem farm is always installed on a SharePoint server and this is something we call a ‘server install’ and in that case that server is usually used for that one farm or it needs to be part of the farm to retrieve any information. For people who want to connect to SharePoint Online we recommend the workstation mode in which you install SPDocKit on your PC and through it, retrieve information about your SharePoint Online environment. In a typical scenario where you have both SharePoint on-prem and SharePoint Online, you would two installations of SPDocKit on two different computers and you can then connect to the same database. If ever in doubt, please contact our support engineers and they’ll be happy to help.

Q: I’m adding a new view across all libraries in multiple site collections, can the tool able to do it?
A: No, with SPDocKit you cannot perform view changes.

Q: Do u have a migration /data copy module that can move content between site collections in SharePoint Online?
A: SPDocKit doesn’t have such a thing. Our tool is for SharePoint administration and so it doesn’t act as a migration tool as well.

Q: How Audit needs to be configured in SharePoint On-premise for SPDocKit to work?
A: If you go to the Permission Explorer in SPDocKit and choose a site on which auditing is disabled, click the audit button in the Permission Explorer ribbon. Then you will get instruction step-by-step how you can enable auditing with the link to your site. From your SharePoint site, go to Site Settings > Site Collection Audit Settings and under the Specify events to audit option select the Editing users and permission checkbox.

Q: Can you set up alerts from the health dashboard? eg email when C: > 80% full 
A: Currently we don’t offer alerts for performance however it’s something the SPDocKit team is working on.

Q: Regarding SharePoint Online, do you support OneDrive sites and Office 365 Groups?
A: In terms of groups, SPDocKit can retrieve basic information. We are trying to expand that and at the moment we don’t connect to OneDrive sites. Stay tuned for the next release and we hope we’re going to make explore that option as well.

Q: Are there any improvements or new features in the Best Practice Reports, for example Project Server Feature?
A: There are no best practices for the Project Server but we’ve added new reports in the SPDocKit 7 especially for SharePoint 2016. Be sure to check out the official SPDocKit 7 release note.

Q: How does two installations affect Consultant licensing for Hybrid environments. Will the licensing allow this? (two installations for one client?)
A: You would need to install one SPDocKit instance inside the farm to gather information about it and install the other SPDocKit instance on a workstation to document Office 365. Consultant Plus license has support for SharePoint Online and allows this.

Q: Do you a report to compare two on-prem farms directly?
A: Yes. You can compare two different farms on my different levels. The types of Compare options are discussed in detail the Art of SPDocKit Compare Wizardry blog post.

Q: I am interested in collecting performance data over a period of months or more. Can the Insights feature do this? If not, is that functionality planned for the future?
A: The default data retention value is 15 days. We’re currently exploring if we could improve this. The problem with performance data uses a lot o data so we’re very conservative for that matter. However, we have a different tool that’s designed for a more detailed performance analysis – it’s called SysKit. SysKit among other things, has custom retention periods.

Q: Does SPDocKit use any other Audit data beside User Permissions?
A: SPDocKit audits all changes for user permissions and administrative actions. So if anyone makes a change in the SharePoint Central Administration, SPDocKit can also track that. To have this feature, you will need to have SharePoint 2016 with feature pack 1.Discover today why having SPDocKit makes all the difference when it comes to SharePoint administration!

Make managing SharePoint farms a pleasant experience. Download SPDocKit and try it out!

If you have any additional questions or want to learn more about our tool, we encourage you to contact our awesome Support team—they can set up a personalized demo for you!

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