How to Clone a DNN Website on Your Windows Dedicated Server

A clone of a website is an exact duplicate of the database and site files with slight modifications. Because MS SQL must have unique databases to manage with unique database users, some slight modifications to the database name and user must be made during the cloning process.

A clone is useful when you want to copy a live site and use it for development work. You can add new modules, try out new skins, update content and experiment with the cloned site without impacting your live site. A clone is also commonly used when you want to stage an upgrade. If you are unsure of how your site will do when it's upgraded to a newer version of DNN, a clone provides a test bed. Upgrading the clone gives you the time you need to upgrade modules that may break during the process and upgrade the skin to a newer version before cloning the upgraded version back to the live site.

To create a clone of your website, you must be a dedicated server customer. Shared hosting customers can contact the support team with a request to have their site cloned or a staging upgrade performed on their site.
Create the Development or Staging Upgrade Domain
  1. Log into your dedicated server using Remote Desktop
  2. Start Control Suite by double clicking on its desktop icon. If the shortcut is not available, browse to C:\netstrap\SystemControl and run NetStrap.exe via Windows Explorer
  3. Right click on Plesk x.x.x (Domains) > Login as Admin. This logs you into the Plesk Control Panel as the admin user
  4. If you are a reseller who has multiple clients and are creating the clone for one of your clients, click on Customers, then choose the client
  5. Click on Domains > Create Domain
  6. Fill out the screen with the clone's domain name, a login, a password, and a confirmed password. We typically append "dev" or "upgrading" to the name of the live site we are cloning for organizational purposes. Click on Next
  7. Click Finish unless you want to set limits on the domain by clicking Next
  8. If the source site has HTTPS enabled, you will need to enable HTTPS on the destination site
Clone the Live Site to the Newly Created Domain
  1. In Control Suite, double click on the Plesk x.x.x (Domains) icon. Click on the Refresh icon in the Commands Ribbon if the newly created domain is not listed
  2. Double click on the live site you are cloning to the newly created domain
  3. Click on the DNN x.x.x icon in the Navigation Tree
  4. Click on the Clone DotNetNuke icon in the Commands Ribbon

    Clone DotNetNuke Tool
  5. Click on Destination Site > ... which will bring up a  Choose Object dialog box allowing you to navigate the tree for the newly created domain

    Choose Destination Domain
  6. Double click on Plesk x.x.x (Domains). Double click on the domain you created to clone to. Click on No App Installed. Click OK. Note that Control Suite will not allow you to clone to a domain that already has a CMS app installed on it
  7. Specify the Destination Database and Destination Database User and make sure they're different from the source site. If two DNN instances are hooked up to the same database, it can cause many serious problems
  8. Click on Execute > Yes. If you kept the default options the source site is backed up, optimized, files are copied, permissions are applied and the cloned site is loaded in a browser
How to Clone the Development or Upgraded Site Back to Live Site
Once your development or upgrade work is finished you can use the clone tool to clone the development/upgraded site back. Because the clone tool will not clone to a site with an app installed, you must first delete your live site
  1. Double click on the live site from within Control Suite's Navigation Tree
  2. Select the DotNetNuke icon
  3. Click on the Delete App button

    Control Suite's Delete App icon
  4. Note that by expanding the Backup and Delete Parameters you see that by default, the site files and database are backed up. A description can be added to the backup. You can also choose which databases to delete and whether to delete your site files. They must be deleted for the clone to work
  5. Press Execute > Yes
  6. Once the domain of your live site is empty, the development/upgraded site can be cloned to it's location. Click on your development/upgraded site's DNN version
  7. Click on the Clone DotNetNuke icon
  8. Click on the Destination Site > ... and navigate to your original site's No App Installed location in the Choose Object dialog box. Click on OK
  9. Click on Execute > OK
  10. Your development/upgraded site will be cloned back to your original live site's location and displayed in a browser window
Note that if the clone fails because the destination site is not empty, you may have had an Explorer window open to your site files location. If you manually delete the contents of the httpdocs folder, the clone tool should function as expected

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