We have cloned the SharePoint 2010 Production environment(Company Portal, around 3500 users) using VMWare clone feature. The purpose is to Create a Test environment for Restructuring the content, Quality assurance etc.,

The Prod environment consist of WFE, APP server and Database Server.

All the 3 Machines are assigned a new names and IP Address re-configured. These machines are also isolated in VLAN so they don't communicate to any machines on the network but they can communicate with each other in VLAN. I have also got RDP access so that I can do my configuration work.

What steps do I need to follow to configure these machines and start the portal.

1) The service accounts used by service application & app pools are still referring to the domain and since the machines are disconnected from domain app pool is not starting.

enter image description here

2) Do I need to create a new Domain controller, Service account within the isolated VLAN and connect these machines or Should I bring a copy of Domain Controller, Active directory and use it in VLAN. My system admin told that it's not best practice to clone DC, AD and use it in VLAN.

3) How do I configure the SQL Server machine.

4) How Should I configure the Central admin, WFE and Service Application and point to the cloned Database server. Can this be done in CA or do I need any powershell scripts. Do I need to run Rename-SPServer command to rename the server? Does it change the database server name as you can see here it still refers to the Actual prod database. How do I change this. enter image description here

5) Once reconfiguration is completed we have plans to connect this machines back to the Domain.

Your help is much appreciated.

Edit 14/09/2012

I'm going to remove the clone machines from VLAN and follow these steps to configure the Cloned server. The reason is i'm unable to get the copy of the cloned AD or access to AD from VLAN.

  1. Shut down production servers

  2. Join the cloned machines to Domain and reconfigure IP Address. Port should be opened from WFE, App Server to the SQL Server machine.

  3. Do I need to run Rename-SPServer or Stsadm command on both WFE and App Server. Not sure at this stage. Is the "oldservername" attribute is the name of the Database Server or App server... I tried this command in my development VM and it actually changes the DataSource connection string to the new Database Server. (Search for configdb in windows registry using regedit command)

  4. Run the configuration wizard on App Server(Central admin) again and provide the clone sql server details and configuration database name.

  5. Take a backup of content database and restore with different name.

  6. Run the configuration wizard on WFE and join the WFE to the Clone server farm(App Server) 6.1) Repeat step 3 here… Not sure???

  7. Mount the new content database.

  8. Change alternate access mappings.

  • 1
    I answered a question like this previously, while cloning is slightly easier from the machine perspecitive we found the work behind it to be too onerous to keep the machines in sync so just do a database restore in to our test environment. sharepoint.stackexchange.com/a/22996/1201
    – MichaelF
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 12:55
  • I've cloned the production server & database server for setup the staging server for SharePoint. Whatever i changed in the Central Administration of the staging server, it will override the configuration in the production server. Do you mind to share your method to configure the Central Administration of the staging server without affect the production server?
    – user11206
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 8:27

5 Answers 5

  1. You need to rename the servers you can do this via a script and then modify the topology see this previous answer

  2. You should use a separate AD but you can if you have access just use the same one if you aren't running updates TO AD otherwise make a new one. But create a new domain controller (You will want to do this before step 1)

  3. The same as you would a new install and use the methods in 1 to rename and point to the new SQL instance

  4. see 1.

  5. I'm not sure what you are asking, if you are asking if this is possible, yes it is just a reverse process.

  • Hi Hugh, the VLAN dont have access to AD. so you're asking me to first create a domain controller. That's ok. Renaming the server.. does it make any changes to the Configuration database? while running this command does WFE/App server need access to the SQL server? The second link (hayden) says we need to run the configuration wizard again. Is that correct? Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 11:07
  • Yes those links have worked for me 3 times now without fail, and our server admin uses them whenever we set up a new VM from our base if it is a new machine. Pretty identical to what you are doing.
    – Hugh Wood
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 11:34
  • Hi Hugh, Do i need to run the stsadm or rename-spserver on both wfe and app server(central admin, Service app) and does it require that the SQL server DB is available to run this command. Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 11:51
  • The commands get run on the box that runs central admin basically, rename old wfe to new, old app server to new etc.
    – Hugh Wood
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 11:53
  • Hi Hugh, I have edited my question... could you verify the steps and let me know if it sounds good or have you got any suggestions. pls read from "Edit 14/09/2012" Commented Sep 14, 2012 at 9:28

You must bring a copy of the Domain Controller over for this to work. If you change SharePoint's domain membership, you must reinstall SharePoint. However, cloning (snapshotting) SharePoint (and DCs not running Server 2012 on Hyper-V 3) is not supported, so keep that in mind.

Instead, what I will do is build up an identical farm in a different forest and simply recreate the farm from scratch (using scripts where applicable).


First, Thanks to Hugh,Trevor and MichaelF for giving their suggestions.

I have successfully re-configured the clone machines by following the steps below.

1) I disconnected the App Server/WFE from the existing farm by running the configuration wizard.

2) Using SharePoint farm configuration wizard I provisioned a new farm and service applications.

3) I created a new web application and removed the content database created for this web app.

4) Then I used the Mount-SPContentDatabase powershell command to Add the Production Content database to the new web application.



Ah, there is yet another way that is very easy in fact, if you have an extra machine.

I used Windows Server Backup and made a bare-metal backup of my server that had sharepoint and restored to it to an old optiplex (I booted the machine with my Windows Server 2008 R2 installation disk and ran the restore from network location procedure). Then, before the machine rebooted, I took it offline (DNS conflicts of course it will be an EXACT duplicate in every respect, so be careful).

I was just testing my backup, but this did create an EXACT duplicate of the Sharepoint Server. Of course, the new Windows Server will want a license activation seeing how it is now on a different machine, and I don't know what Sharepoint will think about it. I just want to present this as a possible solution for dev tests.

Further, if you keep your machine offline, you can create your own Active Directory. If you had Active Directory on the original machine, be assured it will also be restored exactly the way you left it. Now you can mess with it all you like. You even get Central Admin.


Sorry for answering to an old thread, but i just googled something and found this, and thought i could help a bit for further use. )

In our environment, we often clone our sharepoint environments to make different levels of testing (Integration, QA, etc)

Here are my steps :

  1. Shutdown frontend and backend SP farm
  2. Backup (Veeam) or clone the farm + the main DC (FSMO roles / DNS)
  3. Put everything in a vswitch in VMWare so everything is isolated from production and inaccessible. Keep same IP scheme
  4. In the testing environment, with the cloned machines, I have a TS server who will act as gateway for testing people
  5. Along with the TS server, I have a virtual firewall with a leg in production env. and another in the testing env letting me RDP in the gateway TS server.

We looked at many ways on how to achieve this and this is the best way we found so far. sure it looks like a lot of work, but when you're used to it and your FW and TS Server are already up and running, its only a matter of cloning.

Hope that helps !

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