We have a SharePoint 2010 Server standalone virtual machine (vmdev1) running Win 2008 R2; VM created with VMWare. We use this as our development system. We tried cloning it via vSphere but when trying to access this new server (vmdev2) via the browser, it gives the error: Cannot connect to the configuration database.

On the copy system (vmdev2), when bringing up Admin Central, it brings up the admin for the vmdev1. If I change the address to vmdev2, it gives the error: Cannot connect to the configuration database.

How do you clone SharePoint virtual machines for development purposes? Or can you? The problem is that we've done a lot of work building sites and lists on vmdev1; we wanted to run some other stuff on vmdev2 without affecting the original.



2 Answers 2


Tim mentioned the sysprep process which is a good first step.

It is also important to understand the definition of a farm. When you run the Configuration Wizard that first time it will create the configuration database. That database includes server names saved in the database tables. You cannot connect to vmdev2's configuration database because it doesn't exist. There may be one on that server, but it is invalid after the cloning exercise since it references vmdev1.

The quickest and most effective way to resolve this is to configure the farm and create a new configuration database. Once that is created, provision a new web appllication and you can attach your existing content database so your existing content will work within the new farm.

  • Thanks, Mike. You said "provision a new web application". Can you elaborate? How do you connect it to the existing content database?
    – Alex C
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 13:22
  • 1
    After you setup the farm you will need to provision a web application, the URL where your content sites will be located. The exception to this is if you do a simple install and let the configuration wizard do everything but that is generally a bad idea. After the farm is created, go to Application Management and define a web application. After the web application is provisioned, you can go to the Content Databases defined for that web application, remove the temporary one that was created and add in your existing content database. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 13:38
  • Thanks, Mike. This server has a SQL Express database for the content, located on the same server. What is the content database called? Do we need to export the db and import it for the new web application? Sorry for all the questions; I'm new to SharePoint :)
    – Alex C
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 14:05
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    To get the database name, go to Central Admin on vmdev1 and under Application Management click the Manage Content Databases link. Make sure the correct Web Application is selected (upper right) and that screen will list any Content Databases attached to the web application. It will already be held in SQl on the cloned server and should be available to add immediately. No export/import needed. When it is added to your farm it will basically map the existing sites to the new web application. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 14:36
  • Hi Alex, I have similar requirement. Could you tell me how you resolved this issue. Will you be able to provide your contact details for further discussion. many thanks - Kannan Commented Sep 4, 2012 at 3:41

You'll want to look in to sysprep. This shouldn't affect any of your installed files, applications, etc. It will remove all of the machine specific information. You'll want to run sysprep on the new VM. This will allow you to give it a new name, and everything else. It's merely a fresh image, but contains all of your content still in windows. It will also reset activation so you'll need another key for this VM.

The System Preparation (Sysprep) tool prepares an installation of Windows for duplication, auditing, and customer delivery. Duplication, also called imaging, enables you to capture a customized Windows image that you can reuse throughout an organization.

  • Thanks, Tim. I also found this solution when creating a development environment from scratch: joshmeyer.net/blog/post/2010/04/30/… This will set things up for when later you need to clone.
    – Alex C
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 13:19

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