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SharePoint Upgrade Failure – Orphaned Documents not Orphaned Lists

Upgrading to SharePoint 2010 from 2007 is well worthwhile, and is significantly easier than the upgrade from 2003 to 2007 was. With that said, there are a number of things to look out for, and a number of bumps along the way. Running the stsadm –o preupgradecheck on your SharePoint 2007 farm identifies a number of the potential pitfalls and alerts you to their dangers.

Recently, I was at a client site doing a database attach upgrade, and we ran into a warning about orphaned objects. Orphaned objects will cause the upgrade to fail, so it needs to be remedied prior to the upgrade.

Orphaned objects are items that exist in the database, but aren’t properly connected to anything in the site collection. Orphaned objects are typically sites or lists. Joel Oleson has a good article on deleting orphaned sites, Orphaned lists are trickier with much of the guidance pointing to removing and then re-adding the content database. Also there is an stsadm command that should repair orphaned objects. The syntax is:

stsadm –o databaserepair –url yoururl –databasename contentDB –deletecorruption

Using the –deletecorruption directive goes ahead and fixes the problem, without it, it just tells you where the problem lies.

Unfortunately, nothing worked in my case. Running databaserepair simply resulted in a return that looked like the following:

<OrphanedObjects Count="1">
  <Orphan Type="SPList" Id="{787A6375-ABA3-4475-AE64-230853EB4448}" SiteId="{13AB0F9E-386B-4128-916C-E70BFC6A45F3}" />

This discussion (in which the response marked as an answer isn’t the answer) got me pointed in the right direction. I am loathe to do anything directly in the content database, but if I had an orphan, I could at least find it there. I therefore opened up the AllLists table in the content database and did a SQL search for my list, like:

select * from AllLists Where tp_ID=’787A6375-ABA3-4475-AE64-230853EB4448’

Unfortunately, I got no results. This was baffling.

I had the GUID of the offending list, but it didn’t exist in the list table. I started rooting around elsewhere. It wasn’t too long before I found a reference to it in the AllDocs table, in the ListId column. To me, that meant that I didn’t have an orphaned list, but an orphaned document that was referring to a non-existent list..

After determining that the document was in fact disposable, I deleted its record with some simple SQL

DELETE FROM AllDocs Where ListID = ‘787A6375-ABA3-4475-AE64-230853EB4448’

Once that was done, I ran the preupgrade check, and all was clear – no more orphaned objects. We could proceed to the next roadblock… (more on that later).

This solution worked in my case, but as it involves monkeying with the content database, use at your own risk, and whatever you do – have a backup of the database available!


  1. Leonid Fofanov Leonid Fofanov

    Nice post, exactly my case. Thank you !

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