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SharePoint testing of the same content database

What are the best practices for SharePoint testing.  We have just one server and one SQL server but want to test some changes to our style sheets etc.   We have a product web application/content database running now which is working fine now.   We created a second web application for testing  We backup the content database from the production application and then restore it and mount it the error appears about orphan sites and the site id is used in this farm?   What is the best way to have a testing bed of your production data?
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MainSail2007
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MainSail2007
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awhughesCommented:
Best practice is to have three environments, Development, Production and Test. Anything else, using seperate web apps but with the same shared services, is not a true test of the readiness of changes for production.

Specific development work should be done in isolation, crafting code in Visual Studio and using the Development SharePoint platform, which would normally just be a base vanilla setup. The Test environment should be a perfect copy of the Production environment. Finalised code and changes should be moved to Test, configured and then undergo functional testing. Once approved you can move the changes to Production and run through UAT.

Typically Dev and Test would be virtualised instances to reduce overhead. Test should be a VMWare or Hyper-V snapshot of the production environment and kept in step. Increasingly these days developers prefer to have an individual Development environment (Visual Studio, SharePoint) running locally on their workstation with a VM of SharePoint.

That's my understanding of current best practice. Obviously there's a cost associated with this but it is worth investigating an MSDN subscription to cover the server licenses.

Hope that's of use.

A
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KoenVostersCommented:
Can only confirm what awhughes is saying. If you want to do it in one farm, you are exposing your production farm to risks that you do not want it to be exposed to. Have you made the calculation of what effort it would cost to bring back up the production environment if you mess it up compared to a seperate testing environment?
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MainSail2007Author Commented:
I do appreciate the advice that I received but I do have one remaining question; why would the system not allow me to have two web applications?    Backing up and restoring the database to a different name and then creating a web application to use that database?   It would seem logical to use it that way but the error states that the side id is in use?

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KoenVostersCommented:
It is not very logical to have the same content twice on the same environment. The reason it states the site id is already in use is because the site id is stored in the configuration database. As you are addin the content database to the same farm the site id already exists as there is one configuration database for the entire farm.

This is also the reason moving the content database to another farm will work just fine as it will be using other ids. If you really want to test it, you can create a new web application and use backup-restore of the site collection on that new web application.
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