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I have UAT environment set up on my client's infrastructure. We don't have Visual Studio installed on it and basically when client reports an error on custom developed features I am digging through ULS and trying to reproduce the issue on my development environment. If I am unable to reproduce the issue then I backup content database from UAT and restore it on my development environment. This is rather lengthy process since content DB is rather large and it takes some time to setup site collection admins, SQL logins etc. Exporting only a site is not an option since export takes forever to complete because we have very large lists.

What are the potential drawbacks of installing Visual Studio for debugging purposes on UAT environment?

The only drawback I can see right now is the inability of testing during debug sessions.

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Visual studio introduces a lot of changes to the OS, including the installation of many DLLs that wont make their way into a production environment.

If all you want is to Debug, you can Debug Remotely by copying the remote debug folder from a visual studio installation into the server and attaching to the process remotely.

It can be troublesome at times, firewall rules for the remote debugging port and you might have some Symbol issues, but, you'll have a less burdened server.

Remote debugging has gotten a lot easier on the newer Visual Studios.

If your machine is on a different domain then the client's, you can try:

1 use the runas /netonly trick to change the credentials used)

2 You can also set the authentication mode to No Authentication

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    I agree with most of the stuff in your answer, but requirement that both machines have to be on the same domain is incorrect. You can set the authentication mode to No Authentication. – Slaven Semper Jan 19 '17 at 8:51

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