I just finished installing Service Pack 2 on my team’s SharePoint server, and the process went absolutely flawlessly (which is very different from some of my past upgrades).  What made the difference?  Reading the instructions (something we geeks tend to not do :) 

Before we get started, here are the links for the current updates (Service Pack 2 and the April Cumulative Update) in case you want to start downloading in the background.

You will want to install the updates in the sequence above, but feel free to cancel the SharePoint Configuration Wizard that pops up at the end of installing each update.  You only need to run it once at the end.

So… before you get ready to update SharePoint, make sure you visit the following:

Updates Resource Center for SharePoint Products and Technologies

This site will always list the latest updates, as well as information on the best practices for installing them.

Next, read the article about deploying software updates for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or the article about deploying software updates for SharePoint Server 2007.  These articles are money and are what made my install go so well.  Some tips that I did not follow on earlier upgrades that may help you out (there are many more tips in the above articles):

  • First of all, do the update during a scheduled maintenance window where you do not have users on the server (duh!)
  • Remove the Web servers that run Office SharePoint Server 2007 from service for the duration of the software update installation. The reason for doing this is that the software update might make schema changes to the SQL Server database, and user authoring during the upgrade might result in the front-end and back-end servers having different content.

    If you are running Infopath Forms Services, quiesce the farm to gracefully kick off your users that are doing the long running transactions that Forms Services uses, and then net stop w3svc  to kick off everyone else.
  • Checkdb and defragment your SharePoint databases before doing the upgrade, following the steps here How to defragment Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 databases and SharePoint Server 2007 databases.
  • Back up the server farm before you start the software update installation. Create a backup of search and all databases. For more information about how to perform backups, see Prepare to back up and restore a farm (Office SharePoint Server 2007).

The article covers other important steps such as the correct order in which you want to install the update in a farm, how to speed up the upgrade in a farm with large content databases, updating language packs.

Make sure you also visit the Known issues that you may experience when you install the 2007 Microsoft Office suite Service Pack 2 and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Service Pack 2 page in case there is any late breaking issues that CSS becomes aware of from customer calls.

Lesson Learned:  Read the instructions (especially on a beastie as complex as SharePoint)