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I have a Web Application in development with 7 site collections. I need to get them all into my production environment. No Web Application exists in production. Is it best to backup and restore the Web Application from dev to live OR is best to create a new Web Application in live and migrate the individual site collections across?

I imagine the first way would be less initial work but I have one of those feelings that migrating all the settings will cause me problems.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

If the Web Application uses a single content database and it contains all the sites that need to be migrated and nothing more, then it is often simpler and quicker to merely copy the Content Database being used for the Web Application from one environment to another.

You would need to create a placeholder web application in your production environment, then attach the migrated content database to the new production web app.

If there is more in the web app that should not be moved or your Web Application uses multiple content databases then an alternate method would probably work better.

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You can also specify the content database when you create the web app, without using a temporary content database, saving the attach step. You have to get the db name exactly right or it will create a new one! –  SPDoctor Nov 23 '11 at 17:42
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