Sitecore is a great CMS platform, but like anything in technology, it requires some hotfixes from time to time (notice I did not say patches, as patching is a term used previous to Sitecore 9.1, where hotfixes are the path forward).
How and if you should obtain a hotfix from Sitecore takes some guidance, so hopefully this helps you with your hotfix approach.
Shouldn’t I Just Apply All Available Hotfixes Per My Sitecore Version?
No. The reason why is that your solution residing on top of Sitecore requires an evaluation to determine if you require a hotfix. This is different than when Sitecore releases an important Security Bulletin that applies to certain versions, as your holistic Sitecore environment may or may not require a hotfix depending on the overall compilation of your solution and the configuration of the underlying environment.
If you believe you have a Sitecore product issue, you should reach out to Sitecore Inc. Support to evaluate your holistic environment and if/where a hotfix could apply.
Where Can I See Known Issues Or Get Guidance If I Need A Hotfix?
Before assuming that everything is a product bug, as many times (70-90% of the time it’s your code or misconfiguration), check the Sitecore KB using their search. There are two facets of “Topic Types” and “Products”: https://kb.sitecore.net/SearchResults#fltr=t0
While there is not yet a facet for Sitecore Version Number, you could still filter by topic and product to review how two’s, known issues, and more. If this does not isolate your issue, and you believe it is still a product issue, check with Sitecore Support. Be aware that Sitecore Support is a hardworking team of dedicated Sitecore enthusiasts so treat them with patience and respect as there are a lot of clients and issues they are managing at any given moment.
But What About My Patches, Things I Already Know Need Fixing?
Many developers have leveraged the Sitecore Product Support Services (PSS) library on GitHub, but be cautious and follow Sitecore’s guidance: https://github.com/SitecoreSupport/
Specifically, the information in the GitHub Repo clearly states the following:
“According to the Sitecore versioning policy Sitecore no longer provide patches for Sitecore 9.1 and later: https://kb.sitecore.net/articles/077333“
“The patches provided via this repository may not have the complete documentation, address very specific scenarios experienced by a small numbers of customers, be compatible only with specific Sitecore version, or be experimental.
It is important that extra care is taken when deciding to directly use patches from this repository without guidance from Sitecore Support. They should only be applied if the Sitecore solution is affected by the specific issue addressed by the patch and only after performing local testing of the fix.
In case of any uncertainty, always contact Sitecore Support before applying Sitecore Patches.”
Are There Any General Troubleshooting Steps To Follow Before Contacting Sitecore For A Hotfix?
Yes. Before you reach out to Sitecore, its imperative to isolate the issue as much as possible. It can be difficult to know when an error in the logs (or on screen) is due to a config, code, or actually a product issue, so here are some helpful steps called the “12 Step Program for Sitecore Recovery“. Note, this is PaaS heavy, so if you run IaaS VMs, substitute the PaaS aspect for the IaaS aspect (ex. if Azure SQL in PaaS = SQL VM in IaaS):
- What changed recently?
- Is there a clear error code on the site (whether infrastructure or Sitecore)?
- Was there a recent deployment or large publishing?
- What is in the Sitecore logs?
- How is the performance of the front end servers or Web Apps
- How is the performance of the Application servers or Web Apps (ex. xConnect/Reporting tied to the front end)
- How is the performance of the sessionState provider and is it properly configured?
- How is the performance of the database backend?
- How is the performance of Solr or the search provider and is it properly configured?
- How is the performance of the networking/edge devices (Outages or certificates expired/matching thumbprints)?
- Is there any unexpected or unwanted traffic?
- Are you sure there were no recent deployments or large publishing?
If you have gone through these steps and the issue remains, its time to call Sitecore Support to investigate if a hotfix may be in order.