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Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

Are your workflows freezing, or taking longer then they should to continue? This may be due to the SharePoint timer service. Please see below for issues and troubleshooting.

What is a timer service?

Timer job perform infrastructure tasks for the timer service, such as clearing the timer job history and recycling the timer service; and tasks for Wep Applications, such as sending e-mail alerts.  A timer job contains a definition of the service to run and specifies how frequently the service is started. The SharePoint 2010 Timer service (SPTimerv4) runs timer jobs. Many features in SharePoint Server rely on timer jobs to run services according to a schedule.    

All delay actions utilize the SharePoint timer service.  If there is a greater issue with this service it can affect any action that utilizes delays. The effect on these actions might be they do not continue at the expected time, or they never continue.

The following actions may be affected:

  • Pause For
  • Pause until
  • Task reminder
  • Complete Workflow task
  • Delegate workflow task
  • Wait for item update
  • Loop (when Safe Looping is enabled)
  • State Machine (when Safe Looping is enabled)
  • Start workflow (when using the option "Wait for the workflow to complete before continuing")

Issues and Troubleshooting

Issue 1 - The "Pause for" action never continues

Please follow these steps if you experience issue 1.

1) Restart the SharePoint timer service.

2) Download the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 October 2011 CU.

Please note: If you are still facing issues after downloading the October CU, it may not be a timer service issue but a Microsoft SharePoint workflow engine bug. For more information about this bug, please seeSharePoint Workflow Engine bug. This known bug can affect some Nintex Workflow and cause them to freeze under certain conditions.

3) Contact Microsoft Support.

If neither step one or two resolve your issue, please test a basic SharePoint designer workflow with a delay.  If your issue is also occurring in the SharePoint designer workflow, this suggests there is a greater issue with this service and you will need to contact Microsoft Support.  Once the issue has been resolved this issue should no longer be present in Nintex workflows.

Please note: Keep in mind that Nintex Workflow uses the SharePoint Workflow engine. If these issues are occurring in Nintex Workflows, they will also occur in SharePoint Designer workflow. Normally, a simple SharePoint Designer workflow with a Delay or Pause activity will result in the same behavior and this test can be used to demonstrate the problem is Microsoft Support is required.

Issue 2 - The "Pause for" action takes longer than expected (more than 10 minutes past the configured pause or 5-10 minutes longer than configured)

1) Restart the SharePoint timer service.

2) Download the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 October 2011 CU.

Please note: If you are still facing issues after downloading the October CU, it may not be a timer service issue but a Microsoft SharePoint workflow engine bug. For more information about this bug, please see SharePoint Workflow Engine Bug. This known bug can affect some Nintex Workflow and cause them to freeze under certain conditions.

3) Contact Microsoft Support.

If none of the above steps resolve your issue, please test a basic SharePoint designer workflow with a delay.  If your issue is also occurring in the SharePoint designer workflow, this suggests there is a greater issue with this service and you will need to contact Microsoft Support. Once the issue has been resolved this issue should no longer be present in Nintex workflows.

Please note: Keep in mind that Nintex Workflow uses the SharePoint Workflow engine. If these issues are occurring in Nintex Workflows, they will also occur in SharePoint Designer workflow. Normally, a simple SharePoint Designer workflow with a Delay or Pause activity will result in the same behavior and this test can be used to demonstrate the problem is Microsoft Support is required.

See also Optimizing timeout settings: SharePoint timer service.

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Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

Hello,

I have this problem on SharePoint 2013 SP1 and Nintex Workflow 2013.

Is this a known issue on this environment as well?

I do notice that my workflow timer job keeps in the state running until I restart the SharePoint timer service.

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Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

This is no longer a common issue.

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Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

reinstalled Nintex with new database and the problem disappeared.

Luckily this was only happening on my development machine and not on production.

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Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

We are experiencing a similar issue in production. SP2013, running 2010 Workflow Engine.  Workflows will stop running until the timer service is restarted by the admin.  Is the only solution to reinstall the database?  Are there patches or configuration issues that relate to this issue?

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Workflow Hero

Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

There is another cause for "pause" actions to fail. That would be the setup of the SharePoint Workflow Foundation Service to run on an App server that does not have the Web Front End service also running. If this is the case in your environment, simply stop the Workflow Foundation Service on the App server and make sure it is Started on a server that is running as a WFE.

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Workflow Hero

Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

Thanks for this hint. We had the service on a server with WFE role running but it was not a user facing (only for search purpose) and therefore no Nintex WF was licensed on that "backend". This also caused the Pause action to keep workflows stuck in the running state.

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Workflow Hero

Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

We just upgraded our WF and Forms piece and the Wait for an Update Action stopped working. I had to restart the SP timer service and the WF started working again with no problems. Is there a possibility that this would happen again? Why would the upgrade cause this issue?

We are on Sp2013 Foundations.

Thanks!

Rency

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Workflow Hero

Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

It's not a defined step in Product Update - What you need to know  but it is not that uncommon for any sharepoint feature that needs updating. Especially ones that have timer jobs.

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Re: Workflows not continuing - Timer Service and Delays

We can try below's  exercise, Use PowerShell script to perform below activity 

  1. Increase workflows Throttle Size 
  2. Increase workflows Batch Size
  3. Extended  workflows Time Out
  4. Increased  Workflow Timer Interval
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