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SharePoint Online - Understanding Term Store synchronisation

30 January 2020

Being surrounded by lists, libraries, and data that are subject to being indexed, and cached, it is worth understanding how the Term Store behaves when it is modified since it varies a bit compared to the rest of the data in SharePoint Online.


SharePoint Term Store Manager

Working with managed metadata is a key component of SharePoint. To make it work properly we need to set up the taxonomy structure through the Term Store Manager application in the SharePoint Administration site. It is very important to know how the data is updated so that it is ready to be used in the rest of our tenant or a particular Site Collection, to avoid any kind of confusion and frustrations. 

SharePoint Online Term Store Synchronisation 1


As SharePoint Term Store administrators, whether we want to create a taxonomy structure at tenant or site collection level for managed metadata fields or for navigation, any changes we make in the Term Store are reflected and stored in an internal SharePoint list you may know already, the Taxonomy Hidden List. This list, located at “[Site_Collection_URL]/Lists/TaxonomyHiddenList”, should be synced with the Term Store, otherwise, we won’t see consistent data in list views, web parts, and so on, unless we are editing an item through the edit form, which takes the values directly from the Term Store.


SharePoint Online Term Store Synchronisation 2

You may find that this synchronization is not always as fast as you wish or even seems to not work at all. The reason for this is that there is a timer job called “Taxonomy Update Scheduler”, which handles this synchronization between the SharePoint Term Store and the Taxonomy Hidden List. After this synchronization, the list will be indexed just like any other list or library in SharePoint. You may already know about this timer job if you have worked with SharePoint On-Premises before, but it is also used in SharePoint Online.

So, if we edit the SharePoint Term Store, we must take into account that it can take up to 24 hours for the “Taxonomy Update Scheduler” timer job to be triggered and synchronize the Taxonomy Hidden List, and even with that done, the list must still be indexed. If after 24 hours checking the Taxonomy Hidden List hasn’t sync, we should be concerned and raise a ticket with Microsoft to understand if there is a problem with the service.

Currently, in SharePoint Online, there is no way to force the timer job execution or any kind of workaround, since we don’t have control of this timer job which is managed by Microsoft, so being aware of this process is important in order to get better control and management of the Term Store and to understand potential timing issues.


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Author bio

Carlos Genero

Carlos Genero

I'm a member of our astonishing and talented SharePoint development team and focused on the development and delivery of Atlas to our clients. I have also been working with other .NET based technologies such as Kentico and Sitecore. Out of work hours and father duties, I love videogames, movies and hanging out with friends.

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