Having problems after applying a CF update? What to check, and how to recover!

March 6, 2019
ColdFusion troubleshooter
Wizard 33 posts
Followers: 35 people
3

Having problems after applying a CF update? What to check, and how to recover!

ColdFusion troubleshooter
Wizard 33 posts
Followers: 35 people
March 6, 2019

I hear this often: you just applied a CF update, and now there’s a problem. Maybe some feature or code is “suddenly failing”. Or worse, perhaps CF won’t even start, or the admin is failing somehow. “The update is broken!”, you may think, or “CF has a bug in that update!” you say, as you go to open a bug report. And you may be thinking you need to re-install CF. Wait!

There is a far more common explanation and possible simple solution:

  1. there may have simply been an error during your execution of the update, and you may not even realize it!
  2. And here’s good news: there is an “install” log for the update, which will tell you if there were indeed errors. It’s just not obvious where to look.
  3. Better still, there’s an easy way to resolve the problem–and, no, you don’t need to reinstall CF. You don’t even need to “uninstall” the broken update. You just need to apply the update again, taking a couple of precautionary steps, perhaps installing it from the command line if necessary. I’ll show you how. 

Background

I help people with this problem pretty much daily, whether on CF help forums, in social media, or in my troubleshooting consulting. After writing at various levels of detail in reply to folks each time, I thought I’d offer it here.

And this is an abbreviated version of a post I did on my site some years ago, which I’d long pointed to. More on that below.

Finally, note that what I have to say here applies to all releases starting with CF10, so also 11, 2016, 2018, and so on.

What may easily confuse you

There are a couple of reasons why people may not even notice that the update even had an error, leading them to presume that some problem “must be a bug” in CF or the update.

For one thing, the update mechanism may seem to work, so you could presume all’s well initially. Or you may miss an indication in the installer pop up that there was a error. Or you may find that pop-up never reports that the update finished, so you refresh the admin page and login and may move on.

Worse, when the update does finish–and assuming you CAN get to the CF Admin–the page about the “installed updates” points people to the hotffix_filelist.log, file which isn’t the “install” log, and doesn’t tell you if there WAS a problem! (Adobe, could you please change that on the “installed updates” page?)

Finding the update install log, and the count of errors

So what you REALLY want to look for is the “install log” for the update. After the update is finished–whether it worked or not–do the following 5 easy steps:

  1. Go to CF’s “hf-updates” folder
    • For most people, that would be in CF’s cfusion/hf-updates folder
    • If you have CF Enterprise or Developer edition and are using multiple instances, and you applied the update to a particular instance, you may need to look in CF’s [instancename]/hf-updates folder instead
  2. Then go into the specific folder for the update you just applied
    • For instance, in CF2018 update 3, that would be a folder named hf-2018-00003-314033
  3. In that folder, look for the “install log” file
    • This will be a file with the date and time that you ran the update, such as Adobe_ColdFusion_2018_Update_3_Install_03_03_2019_18_57_42.log
    • And note that if you have more than one install log (from installing or uninstalling the update more than once), be sure to look at the one whose date and time is the most recent
  4. Open that log file in a text editor
    • Now, look to see if there were errors.
    • But do not go to the bottom of the log. Just page down once or twice
  5. Look for the table reporting “successes” and “errors”. Here’s an example:

    Summary
    -------

    Installation: Successful.

    3120 Successes
    0 Warnings
    0 NonFatalErrors
    0 FatalErrors

And of course you want to see all successes, without any errors (of either type, nor warnings, really). What if there are errors? See the next section.

And I would note that whether the update “seems to work” or not, you should always just make it a best practice to look at the install log to confirm there were no errors.

What if there ARE errors? How to recover

So, what if there ARE some fatal or nonfatal errors reported? Well, there is much more I could say about that, as again I have written elsewhere, discussed below.

I will say briefly here that in nearly all cases, the problem causing errors in the install log is simply about something that was running (related to CF) which kept the update from being able to update or delete files it wanted to process.

Now you have two choices.

First, assuming you can get to the CF Admin, you could try simply running the installer again (no need to even run its available uninstaller). But if you do, then first:

  1. Stop CF’s related services, if any (add-on, .net, odbc, as listed next to the CF service itself in Windows services)
  2. Then restart CF once, for good measure (kill the coldfusion process if the service won’t stop)
  3. Stop your web server also (for good measure, as it could lock files in CF. If you access the CF admin using that web server, skip this step)
  4. Then trying to run the update installer again
  5. Check CF, your web app, and the update install log

If that works, great! It has for many.

But if you still see the errors (in CF or in the update install log), then you may need to move on to the next approach:

  1. Stop CF AND its related services
  2. Stop your web server
  3. Then try running the update installer manually from the command line (see below)
  4. Check CF, your web app, and the update install log

I share more on doing the command-line update in my other blog post, discussed below.

This post here was really more about finding out IF indeed your update DID have any errors, since so many just never even notice or, or don’t know where to look in the first place, and how it may be that simply stopping related services and restarting CF once may well allow to recover.

Want to learn still more about dealing with update problems?

Again, I did a more elaborated blog post with still more detail, focused on solving common problems with applying CF updates. And though it’s from 2014, it applies whether you are CF10, 11, 2016, 2018–or 2020, if you may be reading this in the future!

How to solve common problems with applying ColdFusion updates (in 10 and above)

And on a related matter, in case you may also try updating the JVM that CF uses (whether along with an update or separately), I have another elaborated post on solving common problems that can happen with that:

CF911: ‘Help! I’ve updated the JVM which ColdFusion uses, and now it won’t start!’

Bottom line: problems with updating CF and the JVM can be disastrous if you don’t know what’s going on or how to quickly recover. These resources should help you if it happens to you!

But at least with this post you now know where to look to see if your update did indeed have errors or not. If it did, then you need to deal with those before trying to understand why some feature in CF seems to have “suddenly stopped working” after an update.

Comments (3)
2019-03-06 15:05:10
2019-03-06 15:05:10

Sure, Jim. Again, the title was what to check first. 🙂 I find too many people run to slack or the portal or  the bug tracker to claim “bug, bug” when it turns out it was indeed just an error in the applying of the update.

But I could have added a PS saying, “what if you have problems but no errors in log?”

I will consider that, but since editing a post takes it offline until moderated (vs just leaving the old version in place–grr), I’d not do that for at least a couple of days.

Until then, these comments can help people. Thx.

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Charlie Arehart
's comment
2019-03-06 15:07:38
2019-03-06 15:07:38
>
Charlie Arehart
's comment

Grr. That was of course supposed to be a reply to Jim’s comment below. It’s just too easy (especially on mobile, it seems) to make that mistake, and it can’t be corrected.

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2019-03-06 13:40:30
2019-03-06 13:40:30

I’d also suggest looking on the CFML Adobe Slack channel to see what other folks are running into.  There were some issues reported on Slack that I did not run into with my update.

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