Collection Evaluator failed to find collection “%”

Posted: August 22, 2013 in Configuration Manager 2012
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Recently I had to do a site restore on a very sick Config Manager Primary. The restore itself went very smoothly however a few minor issues have popped up since. One being a warning in my Component Status logs by the SMS_COLLECTION_EVALUATOR component.

The description of the warning stated that the:

Collection Evaluator failed to find collection “%”. Collection Evaluator received a .udc (update collection) or .adc (create collection) file for a collection that does not exist.

Possible cause: The collection was deleted shortly after being created or updated, but Database Notification Monitor and Collection Evaluator processed the create or update file out of sequence.

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Inspecting the colleval.log file indicates a similar problem:

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To understand the problem a little more I did some digging. Doing a Google search on the error yielding a reported solution:

http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/systemcenter/en-US/512b4e38-1eac-4f9b-a482-ccb693ced2ff/sms-collection-evaluator-failed-to-find-collection

The forum response states that you can browse to the COLLEVAL.box inbox folder at \Program Files\Microsoft Configuration Manager\inboxes\COLLEVAL.box and remove the offending UDC_File’s that are instructing the SMS_COLLECTION_EVALUATOR thread to attempt to update the missing collections. Performing this action on my Primary site did indeed resolve the issue.

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Digging a little further……

Looking at the dates on these files was interesting given that they were random over the course of a 3 month period. This coincided with my package conversion to applications where I was removing large numbers of device collections and creating new user based collections.

So it seems that the number of orphaned UDC_File’s grew slowly to the point were the warning count threshold was breached, thus my SMS_COLLECTION_EVALUATOR component changed its severity status from OK to Warning. It just so happened that my restore coincided with this milestone and I hadn’t noticed the component in that warning state prior to the site restore.

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So what actions lead to these UDC_File’s hanging around every now and again once a collection is deleted?

Relating this back to the possible cause stated in the status message:

The collection was deleted shortly after being created or updated, but Database Notification Monitor and Collection Evaluator processed the create or update file out of sequence.

Well to be honest I’m not entirely sure and if anyone out there has a specific answer beyond this limited reason please let me know 🙂 It would be nice to be fully aware of how you can avoid this scenario (if at all) in future beyond the action of deleting these files.

I can say however that when you create a collection a UDC_File is generated in the COLLEVAL.box inbox folder, its processed, then removed. Similarly when you delete a collection a UDC_File is created, processed and removed. If you monitor this folder, you can see the files in action as you create and delete collections.

There are some good practice steps to follow around collections that may assist. 

Incremental Updates on Collections

According to Microsoft you should not set this setting on large numbers of collections as it could result in delays in processing memberships of collections.  See this Technet link for best practices around the use of this setting:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg699372.aspx

You can use Powershell to turn off the incremental update setting on your collections if you think you have to many enabled. This blog explains the process and has the script to download:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/brandonlinton/archive/2013/04/23/powershell-how-to-disable-incremental-collection-updates-in-mass.aspx

Management of Collections

Technet link for maintenance of collections:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/gg681977.aspx

Cheers Damon

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