Understanding SharePoint – Part 5 – Keep those webs small if you must use SMIGRATE

Understanding SharePoint - Part 5 - Keep those webs small if you must use SMIGRATE

This is the fifth post in a series in regards to "Not being mislead by what your seeing :)"

DISCLAIMER: This post may include steps that guide you through issuing statements against your SharePoint content databases.  By no means does this mean that you should change any thing in the database.   This is simply for "READING" values, and even this should be done during Off-Peak hours.

The Scenario

You have a sub web of a site, and it's a whopper.  Let's say it's about 25GB 🙂  Perhaps you want to relocate it to it's own site collection, or you need to move it around in the hierarchy.  The only way to do this is via SMIGRATE as my post titled Moving a web and preserving permissions using SPUserUtil describes.

You kick off a SMIGRATE to export the web, and it eventual fails with possibly an access violation.

The Reason

Unlike STSADM, which chunks the individual records of a site collection to the backup file, SMIGRATE allocates memory for caching the overall manifest of the export.  SMIGRATE could require up to 3 times the amount of memory needed to generate the manifest data.  The data is not chunked as in STSADM, but rather generated in memory and then persisted to the export file.

It generates the manifest file in UTF-8 format for use later to read it back in.  It also generates in another format for use with XML compilation internally, which could lead to needing generally 2x the amount of memory as the first allocation, thus making the necessary memory requirement around 3x.

As you can see, trying to SMIGRATE our 25GB scenario sub web could possibly require around 75GB of virtual memory, and most systems would never have this.  Besides, you would still be limited by the amount of addressable memory on a 32 bit system, as is Windows 2003.  Thus, at most, there is a 2-3 GB address space for user mode applications depending on your servers setup.  The entire web could never be exported if the overall size of the memory requirement during the export exceeded 2-3 GB, and that's if you happened to be fortunate to not have anything else running on the server that day and the planets aligned just right. 

In Conclusion

If you have to use SMIGRATE routinely to move webs, then keep them small.  Otherwise, you may need to use something to export your files out to reduce the webs size, to then move them, and then import the items back in, thus losing original time stamps, user associations to document and list items, etc.

Hope this helps!!

 - Keith

Previous Posts on this series:

Understanding SharePoint - Part 1 - Understanding the SharePoint Portal Server Indexer

Understanding SharePoint - Part 2 - The Infamous Query Plan Bug and The Origins of SPSiteManager

Understanding SharePoint - Part 3 - Just because your database is larger doesn't necessarily mean that your index size will be

Understanding SharePoint - Part 5 - Lock those sites before performing backups to prevent orphaned entries! -

Additional reference material:

Administrator's Guide for Windows SharePoint Services - Migrating and Upgrading Web Sites

Disaster Recovery in SharePoint Products and Technologies - Recovering Individual SharePoint Sites

Backing Up and Restoring Web Sites

SPSiteManager is contained in the The SharePoint Utility Suite at:

Comments (3)
  1. shug says:

    I’ve to to use stsadm in the past to migrate an entire site collection and then delete the webs I didn’t want because of this exact problem.  Is there a KB article for this?

  2. krichie says:

    There is no direct KB that I am aware of, but it is commented on in the documents I list in the "Additional reference material" section of my post.

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