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I am lost as I am reading whole bunch of ways to do this. I don't want to go through activating Sharepoint and windows.

Current Production SP farm on VM (2 WFE, 1 App/index/CA server, 1 SQL).

What are the best approach to create Test instance based on production? Should I have VM guy clone 1 WFE and the App Server? or have him clone all 3 (only 1 wfe for test) servers? I tried this method and failed because I could not run the configuration from central admin and sql info was grayed out and was pointing to the production sql.

Please suggest.

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up vote 0 down vote accepted

One possible solution would be to copy ALL of your SharePoint databases to a dev sql server, clone off the VMs, then go into each VM and create a Sql Alias (using cliconfg.exe) that remaps your production server name to your new dev server name. Just to be safe, restart the VM after making this change. This last step is just to make sure all web apps and services are on the same page.

Then take your dev config DB offline and test your dev farm - you should get errors saying that you cannot connect to the config DB. This verifies that you are indeed hitting the dev DB instead of prod. You can now turn on the dev config DB and work as normal.

You may have more than a few DNS issues to work out though as the farm still thinks it is running the old URLs. You will most likely need to create new URLs for dev and add them to SharePoint and to you DNS before the farm becomes usable.

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