Using PowerShell to deploy SharePoint Solutions (WSP)

The STSADM command line application worked well with previous versions of SharePoint. But the world is progressing and PowerShell will be the new administrative tool for SharePoint. In previous articles, I already showed some amazing powerful scripts that otherwise would require more lines of code. PowerShell offers some great advantages in large farms, as they can be run remotely on target machines, can be signed and therefore be controlled. Building up a repository of scripts or cmdlets to execute common tasks would be worthwhile in the long run.

First off an important thing to note here that this will only work with SharePoint 2010. There are no PowerShell snapins available for 2007, although you could create your own off course. And when run from a SharePoint 2010 Management Shell, the snapins are loaded automatically. But what if you just use the ‘normal’ console? Well, then you would have to register the snapin yourself. Fortunately, MS has already created the PowerShell script that is needed, located at:

C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\14\Config\PowerShell\Registration\SharePoint.ps1.

You could include this script in your scripts to be run first, or just include the command that registers the snapin:

Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell

This article covers one of the most basic tasks one would do when administrating SharePoint: Deploy SharePoint solutions (WSP) and enable/disable features.

Working with Solutions

In the ‘old’ days (let us not forget that the stsadm is still there and we have a lot of SharePoint 2007 installations across the globe), the following stsadm command could be used to add a SharePoint solution to SharePoint:

stsadm –o addsolution –filename “D:\Deploy\MySharePointSolution.wsp

We used the following command to deploy the solution once installed to a specific web application:

stsadm –o deploysolution –name MySharePointSolution.wsp –url http://myspwebappp –allowgacdeployment –immediate

If we would upgrade an existing solution, we would use the following:

stsadm –o upgradesolution –name MySharePointSolution.wsp –filename “D:\Deploy\MySharePointSolution.wsp” -immediate

And finally, we used the following commands to retract and delete a specific solution from the web application:

stsadm –o retractsolution –name MySharePointSolution.wsp –url http://myspwebapp –immediate
stsadm –o deletesolution –name MySharePointSolution.wsp

Now, let us see how we could do above operations with PowerShell. For this, we use the following PowerShell commands:

Install-SPSolution –Identity MySharePointSolution.wsp –WebApplication http://myspwebapp –GACDeployment

If you would like to add the solution as sandboxed, you would use the Install-SPUserSolution command instead. To upgrade a solution, we specify which solution is to be updated and with which new solution file:

Update-SPSolution –Identity MySharePointSolution.wsp –LiteralPath “D:\Deploy\MySharePointSolution.wsp” –GacDeployment

To retract and remove a solution, we use the following commands:

Uninstall-SPSolution –Identity MySharePointSolution.wsp –WebApplication http://myspwebapp
Remove-SPSolution–Identity MySharePointSolution.wsp

Working with features

Similarly, commands exist for working with features. The stsadm equivalents:

stsadm –o activatefeature –name MyFeatureName –url http://myspwebapp
stsadm –o deactivatefeature –name MyFeatureName –url http://myspwebapp

Needless to say, there are easy equivalents in PowerShell:

Enable-SPFeature –Identity MyFeatureNameOrGuid –url http://myspwebapp
Disable-SPFeature –Identity MyFeatureNameOrGuid –url http://myspwebapp

As you can see, PowerShell will completely replace stsadm as the administrative command line tool for SharePoint. Better to start using it as the next version of SharePoint will not have a stsadm command line tool I suspect. To conclude, let us take a look at a script that enables a certain feature across all site collections and sites in a farm. As an example, I have taken the SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Features feature with ID 0806d127-06e6-447a-980e-2e90b03101b8.

Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell
$WebApplications = Get-SPWebApplication

foreach ($webapp in $WebApplications) {
  $Id = $webapp.Id
  Write-Host “Processing web application $Id …”
  $sites = $webapp.Sites
  foreach ($site in $sites) {
    Write-Host Processing site $site.Id
    $webs = $site.AllWebs
    foreach ($web in $webs) {
      Write-Host Processing web $web.Title
      if ($web.Features[“0806d127-06e6-447a-980e-2e90b03101b8”] -eq $null) {
        Enable-SPFeature -Identity 0806d127-06e6-447a-980e-2e90b03101b8 -url $web.Url -Confirm:$false
      } else {
        Disable-SPFeature -Identity 0806d127-06e6-447a-980e-2e90b03101b8 -url $web.Url -Confirm:$false

Please note though that above script will work for small site collections. But for larger object hierarchies, you will need to include proper memory management (SPAssignment) to ensure proper release of memory.

As always, have fun coding.

63 thoughts on “Using PowerShell to deploy SharePoint Solutions (WSP)”

  1. pls help out. i did locate where to edit the wss_custom to change the policy…pls out asap. i will love if you can show the path to the bin directory. thanks.

  2. This assumes that the script is executed on the same same server which has a Sharepoint installation. However how do you tackle this when you want to deploy to a SP Server remotely e.g. from a CI Server?

    Assume that I auto-build my solution on Server 1 and would like to deploy this solution to multiple environments (test, pre-prod, prod). Is it possible to give the URL parameter to the AddSPSolution cmdlet (and other subsequent cmdlets) so that I can deploy this to multiple environments without necessarily copying all the WSP’s and the script to deploy to each individual environment?

    Many thanks for any help here.

    1. SharePoint WSP files can only deployed from a machine that has SharePoint installed. It is however possible to execute PowerShell scritps remotely, that is indicating a server on which the script should run from a central PC. This still requires the deliverables to be present on the server, but the script can be run remotely.

  3. Hi Patrick,

    Can you help me to install, Deploy, Activate, Deactivate, Retract & Remove multiple wsp files by one script.


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  6. When I try to run this cmdlet, I receive the following errors (only sometimes):

    Disabling feature: SPFeatureDefinition Name=FeatureDefinition/b89234a6-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-200dd03e1fdd ( XXXStructures_XXXContentTypes , b89234a6-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-200dd03e1fdd )
    VERBOSE: Leaving BeginProcessing Method of Disable-SPFeature.
    VERBOSE: Performing operation “Disable-SPFeature” on Target “Site Scope
    Disable-SPFeature : Cannot complete this action.
    Please try again.

    The part of the script that is producing this is…

    foreach ($feature in $features) {
    if ($feature -ne $null) {
    Write-Host “`nDisabling feature: ” $feature “(” $feature.DisplayName “,” $feature.ID “)”
    Disable-SPFeature $feature -url http://mysite -Confirm:$false -Force -verbose
    Start-Sleep -Seconds 10

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  14. Thanks for the great article…. However I would like to mention that your command

    “stsadm –o deploysolution –name MySharePointSolution.wsp –url http://myspwebappp –allowgacdeployment –immediate”

    will NOT work for a WSP file that you have created from your site – ie. if you create a WSP file of a SITE using the “Save Site as a Template” option from the “SITE SETTINGS” section.

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