Project Server 2010: 5 DB Restore and Provision cannot be used within the same farm to clone a PWA site

I know of a few customers who have tried this, and it seems as though it should work, but for the way SharePoint references objects.  Even if you try to clone your PWA into a new web application you will have problems.  The first issue is when you try to attach a content database to one web application that has been backed up and restored with a new database name.  The error you get will look like this:


Now the first part of the text in the error gives a potential workaround:

  • The attach operation cannot continue because another object in this farm already contains the same ID. Each object in a farm must have a unique ID. In order to proceed with the attach operation you must assign a new ID to this database. To attach this database with a new ID, use the Mount-SPContentDatabase command with the -AssignNewDatabaseId parameter.

And it is possible to use that workaround with PowerShell and get the copied Content DB attached.  However, the second part of the error comes in to play:

  • Note that if this new database and an existing database contain the same site collections, attaching this database will likely result in orphaned site collections due to conflicts between the two databases.

You will see that when connected there will be fewer site collections contained in the attached Content DB than in the original.  Unfortunately this missing sites will include PWA and any Project sites in the DB.  So you will not be able to browse to the copy sites on this web application, and neither will you be able to provision a PWA site against the copy of PWA.  If you do try and provision a new PWA on this web application (with copies of the Project Server databases that match up to the copied content DB) then it will appear to work, but will in fact have produced a new PWA site, and although the projects will be there, the result will be just like a 4 DB provision – and no access to the sites, and more importantly, the Project Detail Pages (PDPs) will be possible.  Project Center will be broken as the required PDPs will not be there.  You will have access to your projects via Project Professional, and some other parts of PWA will work, so it depends why you want this copy – it may still suit your needs.

If you are doing this to create a Test or Development environment then I would strongly recommend having dedicated hardware (or a ‘dedicated’ virtual environment) for this, and not trying to duplicate on the production server.

One helpful tool will be coming along soon that will give another option for cloning sites – the 2010 version of the Project Server Playbooks tool.  I will certainly be reviewing and posting a blog when it is available.

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