Error opening SharePoint task item in Outlook

I have a multiple condition approval SharePoint Designer workflow that was giving an error when users tried to open the task in Outlook:
Outlook cannot open a new form.
To open the file, access to the following form template is required:
<<path to InfoPath approval form>>

I tracked down an error in the ULS logs:
Unhandled exception thrown while handling resource page request for /sites/path
rosoft.Office.InfoPath.Server.Util.InfoPathLocalizedException:The following location is in a different site collection: path/Approval_x0028_4_x0029_.xsn. Access to locations on different site collections is blocked for security reasons. For more information, contact your site administrator.

at Microsoft.Office.InfoPath.Server.Controls.ResourcePage.HandleTemplateFile(HttpContext context)

at Microsoft.Office.InfoPath.Server.Controls.ResourcePage.<>c__DisplayClass2.<ProcessRequestInternal>b__0()

at Microsoft.Office.Server.Diagnostics.FirstChanceHandler.ExceptionFilte…

Access Denied for a Site Collection Administrator

I was trying to update some settings on a SharePoint site where I was a Site Collection Administrator. I could read everything but could make no updates!

What is going on?

The site was locked as read-only. You can access "quotas and locks" in Central Admin for on-premise or use PowerShell.

Retire those legacy farms and sites. SharePoint on-premise locking, unlocking and no access sites

I had to retire an old SharePoint 2013 on-premise farm following a successful migration project. Since this wasn't a wholesale migration, there was a small level of uncertainty whether we moved all the relevant content over. I removed locked all the sites in the farm as read-only and parsed the IIS logs to monitor access. When I was satisfied that I had redirected all the users to the new locations, I removed access to all sites and will leave it like that for a couple months before retiring the servers.

This works much better than shutting down the servers. If you've ever had to turn on a server that has been offline for an extended period you have no doubt experienced domain membership issues, patching compliance issues, outdated anti-virus signatures, etc.

If someone needs access to content in their My Site or something, I can unlock it by using the PowerShell command:

set-spsite -identity https://mysite/username -LockState "Unlock"
Unlock all sites in a farm:Get-SPWe…

Christmas Lights installation service

This isn't my normal topic for this blog site, but I just saved 60% having my Christmas lights hung by a local landscaper:

They are a local landscaping company that I use for pruning and heavy work in my Tri-cities Washington yard. We used them for hanging lights and he did it for less than half what the other local companies were charging.

I was so impressed, that I am posting this in hopes that it helps them in some way.

Thanks for your time.
Back to SharePoint now.

The quickest and simplest ways to check the patch level of SharePoint

There are two ways to get the most accurate patch level and quickly:

Central Admin - System Settings - Servers in farmPowerShell SharePoint Management Shell:(Get-SPFarm).BuildVersion

Error backing up service applications SharePoint 2013 on premise

When I run this command:

Backup-SPFarm-Directory\\server\share\backups-BackupMethodFull-Item"Farm\Shared Services\Shared Services Applications"-Verbose

I am receiving this error:

FatalError: Object Search Service Application failed in event OnBackup. For more information, see the spbackup.log or sprestore.log file located in the backup directory.
 FaultException: Management called failed with System.InvalidOperationException: 'Job failed: Have tried to perform backup/restore operation twice on all in-sync members in cluster...

Here's the issue:
the share location was locked down. I had the Farm account and SQL service account in there with Modify permissions, but some other account needed to have to have write permissions. I actually just gave "Authenticated Users" write permissions to the subfolder because I couldn't successfully pinpoint the failure with reasonable certainty.

SharePoint 2013 Search Service offline "The remote server returned an error: (503) Server Unavailable"

After some significant maintenance on our on-premise SharePoint farm after a failed cumulative update, our search service would not come back online. All the services pretty much needed to have their services restarted after restoring the front-end and SQL server from a pre-update virtual machine snapshot.

I will save you the gory details of all the things that were tried. No solutions offered by numerous blogs and technical articles helped. All the application pools were online, the search service was online according to the PowerShell commands

Here is how I brought this back in our case: Started all services, as appropriate for each web/app/search serverSearch Service Application System Status in Central Admin showed an Administrative Status of "The remote server returned an error: (503) Server Unavailable"After trying all kinds of fruitless endeavors, I ended up using these PowerShell commands to get everything back online $SSA = Get-SPEnterpriseSearchServiceApplication R…