Setting up your SharePoint 2013 environment At Work – Part 5

Every Saturday morning I sit at my computer in a coffee shop I often get in to read blogs, news and some pages of a book. The 3rd SharePoint MVP Award keeps me spending a little more time in order to write something I think it would be helpful for the community. That said, my goal of completing a post every weekend has been set.

It’s hard to imagine that time flies as fast as I feel like the last Saturday has just gone after I wake up and now it’s still a new Saturday. I’m getting many questions as to when the next article of this series is published because they have read the 4 articles far but not seen anything related to SharePoint 2013. Surely you are going to get that right now.

In the previous article, you’ve learnt about some significant enhancements of the SQL Server 2013, such as AlwaysOn High Availability, Business Intelligence. You’ve also learnt about the new licensing model of SQL Server 2012 product, and finally the complete steps to installing SQL Server 2012 Enterprise edition for SharePoint deployment.

To commit the goal myself, this article is to cover SharePoint 2013 installation. Follow up the series as follow:

SQL Server role configuration

What the previous article should have been written is configuring SQL Server roles for the accounts required for SharePoint farm configuration. In Microsoft TechNet documentation, there is an account called SharePoint Installation account. I’ve also seen most of the articles in which that so-called account is used. In my opinion, I don’t call it like that commonly used because the term Installation doesn’t really make sense. This account must have been called Farm Account because it has high privileges required when you create Farm configuration database.

As I said, I’m not really a planer. I often more play something by ear. In SharePoint deployment, unlikely people who plan for SharePoint account, I plan for distinct aspect of SharePoint 2013 deployment. For example, when in the process of installing SharePoint 2013, I just plan for the account and pre-configuration required for the installation. I never planned account for all SharePoint services before some have to run under the same account so this will lead to errors due to insufficient permissions or wrong account. For example, the User Profile Synchronization account must be the FARM ACCOUNT. If you separate account for User Profile Synchronization different from the Farm account, it will never start as you have waited for long.

So the so-called Installation account, I’m going to replace by Farm account in this article, needs assigning two SQL Server role: securityadmin and dbcreator. You also need to add it to the local Administrator group on the SharePoint server. To assign these roles to the Farm account, log into SQL Server database server using database administrator account.

Open SQL Server Management Studio and expand the Security > Login node. You need to give it the login access first. Right-click Logins and select New Logins.

In the windows, select General in the left panel. Click Search at the Login name box and type the farm account from Active Directory. After that, click OK. Now expand Server Roles under Security node. You will see 9 roles by default. Double click dbcreator to add the Farm account to the list. Do the same step for securityadmin role. You can use PowerShell to automatic this configuration as well but make sure you are good at PowerShell unless your database server is harmful.

To add your farm account to the local Administrator group in Windows Server 2012, follow my article on Microsoft TechNet Wiki. You will realize these steps are a bit different from the one in Windows Server 2008. You will love the new unified administration management interface.

Select the right SharePoint 2013 edition

Like SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 has three editions: Foundation, Standard and Enterprise. The features in SharePoint Foundation 2013 is very limited. It’s designed for small collaboration but still has several features available, especially new features and capabilities (e.g. Request Management, Shredded Storage). Using the other editions, your company will utilize many capabilities from the powerful platform. Each edition has different features available and some have limitations. To see differences between these editions, check out one of the following articles:

Besides, you may need to know which ones have been deprecated or changed in SharePoint 2013 compared to SharePoint 2010. Richard Harbridge has done an excellent comparison here.

In terms of the licensing model, SharePoint 2013 has some changes. In SharePoint 2010, when you deploy your SharePoint not only intranet environment but also extranet use, you have two options: Server plus CAL (Client Access License) and Server-only. With the SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites, you don’t have to buy CAL because that doesn’t make sense to calculate the number of accessing users to your internet published website; you need to go with Server-only. However, in SharePoint 2013, the internet sites license has been removed. Your external users will be licensed without any additional cost. I’ve heard of that the price of each SharePoint Server 2013 license is approximately 6,798 USD (Open Price). For example, you company is producing a digital product for a client. You have already built an internal collaborative environment for product engineers working together. The client needs to access their product to see its progress so you give them access. In this case, you don’t have to buy external CAL for the client. Furthermore, if you publish your company’s e-commerce website showcasing your products to people in the Internet, you just need to buy SharePoint Server 2013 license for each server running SharePoint, and CAL for product engineers working internally. If it’s SharePoint 2010, depending on the features, you at least have to spend approximately 12,000 USD for the Standard edition and over 45,000 USD for the Enterprise edition; of course cost for CAL in this case isn’t required. Microsoft has provided the basic concepts used in its licensing model here.

I look forward to your feedback if the table of above licensing examples aren’t correct

I high recommend you to carefully read the comparison in order to select the right edition that meets your business need. This is a really important decision and helps reduce time and cost. The following simple table could be useful:

Many companies love to use as many SharePoint features as possible without the plan for business priority and roadmap. For example, the client I recently met wanted to have everything they had heard about SharePoint to be deployed in their company. They were going to buy the SharePoint 2013 Enterprise edition until I came to them to suggest not doing that. It’s because their business users may not really need all at the beginning. Deploying all things without a road map or plan will surely make a chaos and disordered functions in that collaborative environment. My recommended approach to selecting SharePoint 2013 edition is to combine with the plan in which you have to list all of the priority business functional and non-functional requirements. Don’t start with unnecessary things your company doesn’t really need although those are very helpful.

SharePoint 2013 Installation

You know the preparation tool is a good friend as of the release of SharePoint 2010 edition, because it helps you automatically download and install prerequisites required before installing SharePoint. However, when you run it in SharePoint 2013 on the Windows Server 2012 machine, you would get the configuration error when it installs and configure the IIS web server role. (Application Server Role, Web Server IIS Role: configuration error). At this step, the tool needs to installs some components that requires the installation of .NET Framework 3.5. You need to manually install it because it’s not automatically installed during Windows Server 2012 installation. Use the following command:

[powershell]$path = "H:sourcessxs"
Add-WindowsFeature NET-Framework-Core  -Source $path[/powershell]

Note: The DVD source of Windows Server 2012 has to be mapped. In my case, H (yours may be D by default) is the name of the DVD volume and the folder sourcessxs includes many components and packages. One of them is .NET Framework 3.5. You might have read this article from Microsoft but it looks pretty complicated.

In addition to missing components, Todd Klindt has great finding in which the preparation tool doesn’t download what Microsoft requires in the Hardware and Software Recommendation for SharePoint 2013 article. According to Todd’s article, if you are installing SharePoint 2013 on Windows Server 2008 R2 machine, you need to manually download and install three KB hotfixes: KB 2554876, 2708075 and 2759112. For the Windows Server 2012 machine, only KB 2765317 needs installing. I’ve never seen any issues without the hotfix. However, following SharePoint’s own father is really worth.

On the first page after running the setup.exe, click Install SharePoint Server. You then need to enter the product key. If you want to have 180-trial day for evaluation, use this key: NQTMW-K63MQ-39G6H-B2CH9-FRDWJ. Make sure your computer has Internet access to be validated the key.

Although there are two options available on the Server Type page, deploying Stand-alone couldn’t be supported. I’ve experienced this type and noticed that whether your computer has joined the domain controller you can’t use Stand-alone deployment. If you use the local account, you will surely encounter errors related to permission. It seems the Stand-alone deployment isn’t supported in the latest installation package because I’ve read a few articles the writers successfully installed SharePoint 2013 Preview using stand-alone deployment type. Anyway, in this series, we are building a multi-server farm so keep in mind that.

At the File Location tab, select the location you need SharePoint 2013 directory be stored. Note that SharePoint allows you to store search index files to another location. To get better performance, you should specify another drive for search index files because this kind of file can be very large.

On the Running Configuration Wizard page, select Run the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard to start creating farm configuration database and central administration web application. You need to click a stupid button Close. I was wondering why Microsoft put such the confusing name of this button. Its name should have been named Start.

Before creating a SharePoint farm, some services need to be stopped or started for configuration be applied to these services. On the Connect to a server farm page, select to Create a new server farm. You will need to join another SharePoint server to an existing farm later.

On the Specify Configuration Database Settings page, you can see the Database access account. It’s indeed the farm account. Type your database server and database name. Type the username and password of the farm account that has given dbcreator and securityadmin SQL Server roles. If you are passed to the Specify Farm Security Settings page, you are not alone. Many people use an all-in-one account so they easily pass but if you use another account that is properly configured, you are going to a higher level. If you get the error “Cannot connect to database master at SQL server at <SQL Server instance name>. The database might not exist, or the current user does not have permission to connect to it”. You need to check the following:

  • The name of SQL Server instance is correct.
  • The Windows Firewall is turned off. You can do a ping check between the SharePoint server and the SQL Server database server.
  • TCP/IP protocol must be enabled on the SQL Server Configuration Manager.
  • SQL Server Browser service must be starting unless SharePoint can’t remotely identify the SQL Server instance.

The passphrase is used when you join another server to your existing SharePoint farm. I don’t know another benefit of it, especially like Microsoft says, it is used to secure farm configuration data. It maybe creates an encryption key stored somewhere in SQL Server to encrypt data. If you forget it, you can reset by using PowerShell (Set-SPPassPhrase). Anyway, remembering passphrase is better because you will need to use it many times in the future.

On the Configuration SharePoint Central Administration Web Application page, select Specify port number and type an easy-to-remember number and make sure it must be not the same with any existing number ports. If you don’t know, let SharePoint automatically generate a random number. If you can’t remember the number, don’t worry because SharePoint allows you to map the Central Administration web application to a friend URL e.g. Under Configure Security Settings, keep the authentication provider by default: NTLM. You will be able to change it to Kerberos later.

On the Completing the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard page, review all information you have configured, then start creating a new SharePoint farm and Central administration web application.

After the successful installation, SharePoint automatically opens its Central Administration website to ask you to create service applications, and web application with a new site collection. If you agree doing that, SharePoint will use only one account you specify to run all selected service applications. This is one of the worst practices ever because if the account isn’t correct due to password change, all those service applications will stop to function. Another problem is that the name of service applications database will surely look ugly. In a nutshell, don’t let the Farm Configuration Wizard automate creating service applications for you. Just do that in case you do want to have service applications to be very quickly set up configured for testing purposes.

Finally, go to the database server to see that there are two databases created after SharePoint 2013 installation and farm configuration process.

  • SharePoint_AdminContent_<GUID>: it can be called Content database that is store content and setting of the Central Administration site collection.
  • SharePoint_Config: it stores farm configuration and setting data.

Well you have successfully installed SharePoint Server 2013. The steps to complete are straightforward. You, however, need to be aware of a few issues I’ve mentioned in this article to make a beautiful environment. For those who like automation work, the outstanding tool AutoSPInstaller does save your day. This tool allows you to set separate service account for service applications, and is editable to building from single-server farm to large farm. You only need to change parameter in the XML file to build your own farm.I’ve recently been engaged with a client who wanted to upgrade from MOSS 2007 to SharePoint 2010 and FAST Search 2010 for SharePoint using PowerShell as it helps reduce as many manual configuration as possible, and deployment time.

This article gives you required steps barely to install SharePoint 2013. It also boils out some very common issues you will possibly encounter during SharePoint 2013 installation. You now have the SharePoint farm but still needs another machine to be joined to function as a “front-end” web server. The next article is all about joining a machine to your existing farm and how confusable the term “front-end” is.

Stay tuned!


  1. Steve Villarreal
    July 10, 2013 — 4:48 pm

    Can you setup external (internet facing) sites with Foundation version?

    • July 11, 2013 — 4:43 am

      Hi Steve Villarreal,

      Technically speaking you can publish SharePoint Foundation 2010/2013 to the Internet as a publishing website by enabling Anonymous access. You are even able to allow external access to SharePoint content inside the company through Windows Authentication or Form-based authentication.

      Please feel free to contact me if you have any further question.


  2. Steven Villarreal
    July 15, 2013 — 9:13 pm

    Thank You Thuan.

  3. Sunday Oni
    January 16, 2015 — 9:37 pm


    I need your help. I have spent hours trying to create a new server farm but nothing seems to work. I have checked and triple checked the instance name, the login and user permission, disabled firewall, made sure SQL server browser is running but still nothing. I don’t know what to do again

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