The message “An unexpected error has occurred” sounds familiar with SharePoint Admin all the time. However for those of people who have just started with SharePoint, this message looks like a “nightmare”.

This article is requested by a few students of mine asking about how to get started with SharePoint troubleshooting. Coincidentally for the time being, one of them has encountered a problem when opening User Profile service application he just created after setting up a new SharePoint 2013 farm. In this article, I’m going to give some steps to help my students get more understanding of how a practical SharePoint troubleshooting looks like.

Well, the error in this article as said is related to User Profile. The below screen shows the error. If you see Correlation ID, the error is almost time related to SharePoint out-of-the-box features. Unless the customization needs to handle exception and error output itself.

When you know the Correlation ID, you can use ULS Viewer tool to trace it. Download the tool and press Ctrl + U. The tool automatically locates the default log path. On the ULS Viewer tool, click filter icon. Select Correlation in Field column. The option in Operation column should be Equals. You then click OK.

ULS Viewer looks up the exact ID and filter the result. Double click on a suspicious item to see more.

From the result, I realized that the communication that is handled by User Profile Application Proxy to the User Profile service application is somehow not connected. Essentially, the communication is built on top of Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) or .asmx web service are created along with the service machine instance every time when you start a service. In this case, it is User Profile Service.

Open the list of SharePoint service to check. It is exactly what I explained above, the User Profile service is not started yet. Go ahead to start it.

You need to reset IIS in order for the service application endpoint is re-provisioned. After that, open the User Profile service application again.

SharePoint troubleshooting may not be that easy. It is case by case. It can let you work on it several days without any light at the end of tunnel. The error can be easy to be solved just by iisreset. But at least, what I’d like to say is troubleshooting SharePoint can start with these steps above, and an understanding of the thing you are going to solve. In this case, you need to basically understand some of the service application concepts including service instance, service machine instance, application proxy or so on.