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Since installing the node access module I see this message randomly. "Content access permissions need to be rebuilt. " Will rebuilding them remove all the node access permissions already set? What does "rebuilding" do? Why do I get this message?

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There's a quote in the comments on this post that puts it nicely:

Drupal maintains a table of who can access what; this needs to be rebuilt when a new module affecting user access is enabled.

Think of it as a cache-clear for node access data, except that it's quite complicated so needs to be run as a batch job rather than all at once (e.g. on a cron run).

Since node access is a sensitive issue it's also not wise to rely on scheduled jobs to make the necessary changes, hence why this is all done in one go.

  • This is all correct as you seem to mean "batch job" informally, as synonym to "cron job" and "all in one go". In the code, there is something called "batch mode" for rebuilding permissions, and this is something else. It will distribute rebuilding over several batches, doing one per HTTP request to avoid timeouts. The permission rebuilding function can be run in this batch mode (usually done when run from a browser) and non-batch mode (usually done when run via cron). – tanius Dec 6 '15 at 19:09
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    Is it as harmless as clearing caches, or should I always do a backup beforehand? 'Cuz, let's be real. I don't do backups before clearing caches. :) Thanks for the clarification. – Christia Apr 25 '17 at 6:27
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I also was getting this error, after installing the Book Access module in Drupal 6. It turns out I hadn't created any books yet, so that after I had clicked the check box to enable the new installed module, drupal was unable to find found any book permissions with which to initialise the new database table that Book Access uses.

I was able to get rid of the error by

  1. disabling Book Access
  2. creating a book page
    • no need for content, but do include at least a title
    • remember to select "new book" from the dropdown box in the "Book Outline" section of the "edit" tab
  3. enabling Book Access again

Your situation may be similar.

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