How do I add an extra (site) column to a content type on a large environment (~500gb, loads of documents).

I've have tried using the UI but that failed halfway the operation due to a time-out. Now some list-contentypes have this extra field and some don't. (luckily it was a test environment).

Will a feature with activation logic do the trick or will that also timeout?

What other options do I have?


An extra field, Classification (Choice, Required) needs to be added to each and every document. In that field the company wide classification has to be stored, which in turn is used by an Archiving application. Since it is needed on every document in every list, the field must be added to the Document ContentType (0x0101). All content is in one sitecollection (I know....), using moss.

  • Is it an IIS timeout? Couldn't you temporarily extend that timeout (I think it's 90 seconds, by default)
    – Andy Burns
    Aug 30 '11 at 10:21
  • Please use existing tags if possible rather than new ones meaning the same thing but with different spelling. Thanks!
    – Alex Angas
    Aug 30 '11 at 23:04
  • @Alex: Sorry, I got burned by slow internets: meta.sharepoint.stackexchange.com/questions/374/…
    – Dribbel
    Aug 31 '11 at 7:41

The best approach would be add it via a Feature CAML (using Visual Studio). The Feature, which contains the ContentTypes and related fields. Add an extra field in the ContentTypes and deactivate/active the Feature to get the extra field.

The least recommend approach is to write a command-line application which update a sepcific content type with an extra field. But, remember don't forget to push changes to the inheriting ContentTypes to see the complete change.

  • Won't the feature-activation not also create a time-out in the UI?
    – Dribbel
    Aug 29 '11 at 13:17
  • no it will not be the case while peforming feature deactivation and activation. I had the similar problems still in production enviroment because someone from customer has added a field manually and when we deactivate/activate the ContentType project that field gets removed from the ContentType. Aug 29 '11 at 14:40
  • I ended up with writing a Feature with receiver that does this. I activated the feature with stsadm -o activatefeature (It took 1h45m to complete).
    – Dribbel
    Sep 27 '11 at 8:01
  • It's not unusual especially on production farm with over 500GB data. Sep 27 '11 at 8:33

Are there other issues in the farm? If you cannot do it through the UI, I'm not sure you are going to have any additional luck through Feature activation. 500GB of content in a farm is not a lot, unless it is all in couple of large site collections perhaps in a single content database.

I would start by doing a health check on the farm to make sure that it is performing correctly.

  • All the content is in one SiteCollection (Yes, I know... It was like that when I came here.)
    – Dribbel
    Aug 29 '11 at 13:16
  • The farm needs to be fixed, this is unlikely to behave any differently with code since the same functions have to be executed. Aug 29 '11 at 17:57

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