A Tech Adventure: Fixing a Sage upgrade issue

Sorting out Sage on an annual basis


very year, around the same time, our clients contact us to upgrade their Sage software. This is to get the latest security updates to the software, along with potentially new features. However, it’s not always as simple as it seems. But would we love it to be? Yes.

Whenever our clients do their annual upgrade of Sage, there’s always some kind of new issue surrounding it. Especially on the remote desktop servers. Now, usually it’s a quick and simple fix. Boring. We pride in solving the more intricate and difficult issues. Thus, this adventure we’re about to embark on. We hope that our experience we’re sharing with you today may come in handy for you in the future, or at least something to look out for when working with Sage.

As a side note, many of our customers still use Sage Accounts and Quickbooks. However, we suggest migrating to a better solution. We have helped many of our customers migrate to Xero or Kashflow. We’ve done this ourselves many years ago and can testify to its superiority. Thus, we haven’t looked back since. Our accounts system is now integrated into our main office infrastructure. Furthermore, receipts and invoices are generated automatically from our ticketing software.

So, if you’re looking to migrate from Sage or Quickbooks, or need assistance with the aforementioned products, give us a call. We’re available at any time during the working week on 01865 717088

Now, let’s get started with this Sage upgrade issue and how we resolved it.

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The long wait

It was a dark and stormy Monday morning. I pick up the phone to an urgent call, “Sage must be upgraded today otherwise payroll won’t go through tomorrow! Sage have just sent through the download links and can we do the upgrade at lunch time?”.

Off we go. You would think this would be a simple job. A managed and monitored Sage upgrade. For the first part, it was. However, that’s when the problem appeared.

The Sage installer gets stuck at ‘Please wait while the application is prepared for the first use’.

Even I can’t make small talk for over 30 minutes so there’s definitely a problem with this. It’s time to look for a solution to this.

It turns out on the Remote Desktop Server you need to apply a rule fix first. In this case, we’re on Windows Server 2012R2. This should work on 2008R2 as well, however.

Always take backups first!

Before I began working on the upgrade at all, I made sure that backups were taken of their company data file. The process is as follows (for those unaware):

  1. Login with the client and check each company in Sage. Verify the data is in the correct location | Help -> About -> Check the data location.
  2. Ask the client to come out of Sage apart from 1 user.
  3. Make sure the accounts person is happy with the state of the data (may want to do an integrity check of the file).
  4. Do this for each company that is registered in Sage Accounts.
  5. Do a separate backup of the data folder on the server.
  6. Now we can proceed and process the upgrade.

In this example, I used a local backup to their server, but also a backup to the cloud service we provide. Call in on 01865 717088 for more information on our cloud backup solutions!

So, with the backups done, it was time to install the upgrade (or so I thought, as aforementioned).

“Un”installing the solution

When it comes to upgrading Sage, we need to upgrade the Server (data service component), the workstations and the terminal server if required. When we tried to upgrade the terminal server (since this customer uses remote desktop services for Sage), we got an error.

So, before we go ahead and start uninstalling Sage, re-installing, trying to run a repair install, compatibility mode, etc, there’s a simpler way to fix this.

I looked into changing a group policy that aims to disable the windows installer coordinator. This particular issue affects Windows 10, Windows Server 2008 and Windows server 2012.

Firstly, let’s go into the group policy editor on the terminal server. The easiest way to get there is opening the control panel and searching for group policy. However, you can also open up a run window (Windows Key + R) and typing in “gpedit.msc” (without quotations).

Sage Upgrade GPEDIT.msc

Next, under computer configuration, navigate the following folder structure as follows:
Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Remote Desktop Services -> Remote Desktop Session Host -> Application Compatibility

Once inside the Application Compatibility folder, you’ll notice a few elements on the right-hand side. We are looking for “Turn off Windows Installer RDS Compatibility”. So, once you’ve found this setting, right-click and select “edit”. Next, click the radio button “Enabled”. Then, close the window.

You may need to perform a restart of the Terminal Server for the changes to take effect and we’d recommend it.

The Results

What seems like a simple flick of a switch was pretty difficult to diagnose. Again, with this error, there are no specific error logs. Furthermore, the installer doesn’t necessarily generate an error or bug out, it just hangs on the installer.

Thankfully, after the aforementioned fix, we were able to install update 2017.2 on the terminal server. Then, subsequently, everywhere else in their office. All the company files were intact and they were able to get their payroll through on time.

Until next time!

This is one of the various Sage issues we come out and fix, either remotely or on-site. If you’re having trouble with your Sage product, why not give us a call?

Feel free to give us a call on 01865 717088 and you’ll receive a call from a technician who will tend to all your Sage woes. We also support Quickbooks and offer migrations to Kashflow and Xero (which we highly recommend!). So, why not put your accounting technical errors to rest with some Computer Assistance.

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