Category Archives: Administration

My new book, Dynamics CRM Deep Dive: Administration is in pre-release

Hi Everyone,

I am finishing up the final details for my new book, Dynamics CRM Deep Dive: Administration.

It is currently in pre-release at and I hope to have the process complete around the first week of September.

Here is the table of contents:

Chapter 1.    Create Your Administrative Toolbox
Chapter 2.    Let’s Do a Little Housekeeping
Chapter 3.    Error, Warning, and Notification Messages
Chapter 4.    Managing System Jobs
Chapter 5.    System Job Management: Registry and Database Settings
Chapter 6.    Creating System Management Views
Chapter 7.    Automating System Job Cleanup
Chapter 8.    User Management Tips and Tricks
Chapter 9.    Email Management
Chapter 10.    Email Management – Preventative Maintenance
Chapter 11.    Outlook Sync Table Cleanup
Chapter 12.    Monitoring the Windows Event Log
Chapter 13.    Platform Event Tracing Overview
Chapter 14.    Enabling Event Tracing
Chapter 15.    Troubleshooting Using Event Tracing
Chapter 16.    Matching User Error Codes
Chapter 17.    Troubleshooting Development Errors
Chapter 18.    Workflow Best Practices
Chapter 19.    CRM SQL System Jobs
Chapter 20.    CRM Organization Settings Editor
Chapter 21.    Creating a Management Dashboard
Chapter 22.    Email Router Troubleshooting
Chapter 23.    SCOM Management Pack for Dynamics CRM
Chapter 24.    SQL Server Indexing
Chapter 25.    Backups, Backups, Backups
Chapter 26.    CRM Diagnostics Page
Chapter 27.    Problems with Security
Bonus Material


Drop me a line if you have any questions.

Thanks, Mitch

v4.0 of SnapShot! for Dynamics CRM is available

Hi Everyone,

Version 4.0 of SnapShot! is now live.  This is the most major update I’ve made in quite a while with so many adjustments that I am skipping versions 3.8 and 3.9 and moving straight to v4.0.

The following changes and additions have been made to SnapShot!

New Reports

  • Access Team Templates
  • Themes
  • Positions
  • Hierarchical security configuration
  • Entity Access Privileges

I am really excited about this report!  It shows you entity privileges across security roles. Here is a sample of the Account entity:


New Features

  • SnapShot! now supports a trial mode which will allow you to produce the following reports without having to purchase a license:
  • Entities
  • Fields
  • Views
  • Forms
  • Dynamics CRM 2016
    • Verified security privileges included any changes introduced to CRM 2016
    • Verified connectivity and report processing functionality


    • Views Report
    • Now includes disabled views
    • Added the following additional view types:
    • A template for Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Outlook
    • Offline template
  • Process Report
    • Renamed the workflow type PBL to Business Rule.
  • User Report
    • Added a Position field to report hierarchical security configuration information for CRM 2015 and 2016.
    • The Client Access License types (CALs) are now:
    • Professional
    • Administrative
    • Basic
    • Device Professional
    • Device Basic
    • Essential
    • Device Essential
    • Enterprise
    • Device Enterprise
  • Dynamics CRM Component List
    • Modified the component list to make it more compatible with the Dynamics CRM user interface navigation:


    Since SnapShot! supports Dynamics CRM 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016, I filter the component list based on the version of Dynamics CRM that you have connected to so that only components that are available in that version are displayed.

    • Report Generation
    • Modified the output folder structure and file contents to match the component CRM list show in the SnapShot! user interface.
  • User Privileges Report:
    • Added sections to show the security roles and teams the user is a member of:


    • Security Role and User Privileges Report:
    • Made minor cosmetic changes to the reports.
    • Modified output to only show privileges that are found on the specific version of CRM the report is being created for.

    Previously, all privileges were shown, regardless if they were actually available within that version of Dynamics CRM.

    • Forms Report
    • Modified report to exclude the following form types:
    • Dialog (#8)
    • MiniCampaignBO (#3)
  • Entities Report
    • All Dynamics CRM entities are now exported. Previously, only entities marked as Customizable were export.
    • The Introduced Version property has been added to the report.

    Visit the SnapShot! product page for more information and to download the trial.

    If you have any questions or suggestions for enhancements, then please let me know.

    Thanks, Mitch

    System-Wide Alerts in Dynamics CRM 2015

    Dynamics CRM 2015 implemented a new system-wide alerts to inform you of issues with things like the Server-side Sync process. They appear in the user interface as a yellow bar at the top of the page, as you can see below:


    Clicking the View Alerts button will take you to the Alerts view where you may review the individual alerts.

    At this point I am not certain what will be alerted on, besides issues with Server-Side Sync, but those for sure are there.

    Viewing Alerts

    The actual Alerts view is on the Dynamics CRM user interface at the end of the Sales Area:


    The rather fascinating thing about Alerts, is that they are not actually Alerts, they are Traces.  So, when you are working with Advanced Find, you need to use the Traces entity.


    Programmatic Access and Automation

    The Traces (Alerts) entity is actually called TraceLog, which is the entity name to use when writing code using the Dynamics CRM SDK.

    Traces are fairly locked-down so here are some of things you can do with the entity:

    • Create a workflow to trigger on the Traces entity
    • Perform a query using Advanced Find
    • In the SDK TraceLog is listed a “internal use only” but it appears you may use the SDK to perform standard CRUD operations.  NOTE: I have not tested this.


    Privileges for the Traces entity are found on the Core Records tab:


    It would appear that everyone can Create, Read, and Append Trace records, but only the System Administrator role can delete them.  Since these are standard security roles, you should be able to change these settings if you wish.


    Traces are a very interesting addition to the Dynamics CRM platform and I need to get more information from Microsoft as to its intended use and if we as developers can actually create alerts that may be seen by the System Administrator.

    That will be my next step, when I have time.

    Monitor Queue Routing Rule Workflows

    We ran into a fascinating issue when creating Routing Rule recently.

    Here is the rule:


    This is fairly straightforward, but for some reason, we had an issue where the rule was not firing as we expected.

    I turns out that behinds the scenes, CRM actually creates a workflow to handle the magic required to route the email.

    Normally, you never really see these workflows run because they have the flag set to delete the history if the workflow was successful

    But unfortunately, in our case, something was not configured correctly in this workflow and it was failing:


    We modified the rule slightly and everything seemed to work fine after that. (I wasn’t the one doing the modification so I an not exactly sure what was changed.

    Anyway, the moral of the story is that if you ever see strange workflows, that you did not create, failing, see if they are Routing Rules.

    Refreshing your development or QA environment with production data

    In a multi-server environment (Development, QA/Staging/Testing, Production), you occasionally run into an issue where you need to have the latest production data in the lower environments.

    Here is a set of steps that will help you move the Production CRM database into Development or QA.  PowerShell is your friend here so much of this process can be automated.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any code to share because this was a customer project. But, this is not that hard to reproduce yourself.

    We will review the task of moving to the QA environment, but the steps will apply to any other environment as well.


    Step 1: QA Environment – SQL Server

    The first step is to save any data that is specific to that environment, including:

    • SharePoint configuration
    • Custom configuration data, such as is used by plugins


    Step 2: Production Environment

    Make or get the latest full backup of the production CRM database.


    Step 3: QA Environment – CRM Server

    Turn off the following services:

    • Email Router service.
    • Asynchronous Processing Services.
    • Sandbox service.
    • Unzip service

    Use Get-Service and Stop-service

    Using the CRM Deployment Manager:

    • Disable the QA organization.
    • Delete the QA organization.

    Use Disable-CrmOrganization and Remove-CrmOrganization


    Step 4: QA Environment – SQL Server

    From the SQL Management Studio, perform the following tasks:

    1. Detach QA_MSCRM database.
    2. Move QA_MSCRM.MDF and QA_MSCRM.LDF to a separate file system as backup. This is optional, but I’m a little on the paranoid side.
    3. Delete the QA_MSCRM database.
    4. Restore the Production database backup to QA_MSCRM.

    This can be automated using PowerShell using at least two techniques: SMO commands or raw SQL commands, with the latter being the easiest.


    Step 5: QA Environment – CRM Server

    Using the CRM Deployment Manager, import the QA database.

    From the Operating System, perform these tasks:

    1. Run IISRESET.
    2. Turn on Email Router service.
    3. Turn on Sandbox service.
    4. Turn on Unzip service
    5. Turn on Asynchronous Processing Services.

    Use Get-Service and Start-service


    Step 6: QA Environment – SQL Server

    Perform any PHI cleanup to remove or obfuscate sensitive information including:

    • Phone/Fax numbers
    • Email addresses
    • Contact first and last names
    • Address information

    I would recommend the SSIS Integration Toolkit for Microsoft Dynamics CRM from KingswaySoft.

    You may also wish to review the ALM Toolkit from AdxStudio for additional application life cycle management capabilities.

    So that is about it. As you can see, it’s not rocket science, just a bunch of steps.

    By the way, one assumption is that the servers are all in the same domain. If your environments are in different domains, you’ll have a bit more work to handle mapping users from one domain to the other, but that is something that is totally doable.