An odd issue came up recently where the Search Host Controller Service on a single web front end was stuck in the ‘starting’ state (as shown in the CA -> System Settings -> Services on Server). Couldn’t locate anything in the event log that showed why it didn’t start. And the final oddity: the service in Windows Services was started and running normally on all machines in the farm.

There are a bunch of posts out there (this one and others) that suggest un-provisioning and modifying registry settings and re-provisioning … oh myyyyy!

Before going down that path:

Start simple

When stuck in the starting state, there’s no ability via Central Admin to stop, start or restart. You might think rebooting your WFE might do the trick … no, think again. So the first step: enumerate the host services on your farm in powershell (note you will need to run as admin):

Get-SPServiceInstance | ? {$_.TypeName -eq "Search Host Controller Service"}

This will produce something similar to the following, though you will see differences based on the number of servers in your farm, and hopefully different GUIDs. If our GUIDs match … run for cover because the world is ending.

Server : SPServer Name=WFE1
HostControllerURL : net.tcp://WFE1/ceres/hostcontroller/nettcp
RepositoryVersion : 0
PrimaryHostController : True
SearchServiceInstanceId : 43d4837c-b0c6-42e1-93ff-c8b872854be7
Server : SPServer Name=WFE2
HostControllerURL : net.tcp://WFE2/ceres/hostcontroller/nettcp
RepositoryVersion : 0
PrimaryHostController : False
SearchServiceInstanceId : 6d02e4ab-bfb9-442f-8a29-705274ec8262
Server : SPServer Name=WFE3
HostControllerURL : net.tcp://WFE3/ceres/hostcontroller/nettcp
RepositoryVersion : 0
PrimaryHostController : False
SearchServiceInstanceId : 98d9cc05-92d6-4e2a-b872-3bd7d22f33a4

Super. I see services and one of them is dead. What’s next?

In this instance, it happens to be an issue on the 3rd server. I stopped and started it by running these two commands:

Stop-SPServiceInstance -Identity 98d9cc05-92d6-4e2a-b872-3bd7d22f33a4

And finally:

Start-SPServiceInstance -Identity 98d9cc05-92d6-4e2a-b872-3bd7d22f33a4

After refreshing CA -> Services on Server, the service was listed in the ‘started’ state.

Why did this happen?!?

No. Idea. If I had to make an semi-educated guess, it wasn’t really an issue other than it was displaying as “starting” in CA. The service was clearly running in windows services. Perhaps during startup the messaging got stuck. That being said, it looked very angry, and might have lead to false-positives when chasing down other issues on the farm.

Happy SharePointy-ing.


What next?
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