SharePoint database is currently running in backwards compatible mode

The other day I saw an error on my SharePoint environment stating the following error
“SharePoint object [SPContentDatabase Name=SharePoint_AdminContent_c8de0fec-7405-48f2-9fef-ed15ae4b1125] is currently running in backwards compatible mode. Please fully upgrade it to ensure optimal performance from this object” So, what exactly is the message all about, let us understand. The “Backward compatibility Mode” has been newly introduced in SharePoint 2010.This is a new feature in SharePoint 2010 which allows you to defer the database upgrade even though the binaries on your server are upgraded. So what does that mean Following scenario depicts how you could enter a “Backward compatibility Mode” (either planned or accidental as in my case)

  1. You install a service pack in your SharePoint environment successfully
  2. But you do not run the “SharePoint Configuration Wizard” which is responsible to update the database or do not run psconfig (for advanced users)

The above steps leave your databases in a “backward compatibility mode”. i.e. When the database upgrade is deferred, the databases enter the “backwards compatibility mode” Pros:

  1. Defer update of database to later date/time to avoid immediate downtime and support high availability for users (The accepted duration of running in this mode would be few days or maybe a week but not more than that)


  1. Running for long durations in this mode could lead to undesired results

Catch: This mode works on a baseline as to what should be the minimum version of database you should be running (if you choose to upgrade the database at a later date). The backward compatibility mode is supposed to be re-based lined with each Service Pack releases, i.e. Service Packs should introduce a compatibility boundary. A compatibly boundary would mean that after a particular Service Pack deployment, we would not be able to upgrade binaries on the server and defer database upgrade. The supported baseline is N-1 range of binaries on servers to database backwards compatibility where N equals to Service Pack build. Example:

  1. You install SP1 for SharePoint but do not run “SharePoint Configuration Wizard” and hence you enter “backward compatibility mode”
  2. Should you need to install future SP (e.g. SP2) (N) then you must be at least running the database version SP1(N-1)

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