Sharepoint Portal Server 2003 to MS Office Sharepoint Server 2007 Upgrade

We are currently in the process of upgrading from SPS 2003 to MOSS 2007 and my colleague Dennis and I were struggling with the upgrade process.

One of the errors that drove us mad during the upgrade process was a simple “User cannot be found.� error which stopped our portal upgrade. Neither the error message nor any logs did indicate who was not found or where the user was missing.

It turned out that the SiteOwner of our portal used to be a local administrator (yes, we should have set it up in a different way in the first place) and this account was deleted from the Sharepoint user list afterwards. Now we were left with a non-existing SiteOwner who we were not able to change anymore. Neither the Sharepoint Central Administration nor the stsadm command line tool worked when we tried to change the SiteOwner for the SPS portal.

There were two entries in Fabian’s blog which pointed us to the solution of this issue (1st and 2nd entry): We added the new SiteOwner as a secondary site owner to the portal site using stsadm and looked at the “sites� table on the SQL server. In the “OwnerID� column of the portal should be a 1 the Sharepoint User ID of the original (now missing) SiteOwner. In the SecondaryContact column we found the ID of the future SiteOwner. We subsequently modified the “OwnerID� from 1 to the number of the SecondaryContact. After that we did change the SiteOwner via the Sharepoint Central Administration which worked perfectly fine and the error was gone.

Attention: the approach worked for us on a test server. I do not recommend using this for any kind of production system. Microsoft does not support any system whose database has been modified manually.

Leave me a comment if you need further information or have more questions.