Copy an instance

Applies To: CRM Online

[This topic is pre-release documentation and is subject to change in future releases.]

You can use Copy instance in the CRM Online Administration Center to copy the CRM application and all data from any instance to a Sandbox instance. You can do either a full or minimal copy.


Video symbol Check out the following video on copying an instance to a Sandbox instance: Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Spring '14 Online New Features -Copy.

This video also applies to CRM Online 2015 Update 1 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online 2016 Update.

Full copy instance

A full copy includes all application data, users, and customizations from the source instance and is suitable for:

  • User acceptance testing

  • Upgrade testing

  • Preview in production (TAP/EA)

  • Training

An example scenario

Isaac, a business application developer, has received a request from the sales department to configure and deploy a social media integration solution from another company vendor. Isaac has never installed a solution from this vendor and is unsure what impact this would have on the production application. He’d like to import the solution into an environment that is nearly identical to, but isolated from, production to learn about the solution and make the appropriate configuration changes. Isaac submits a request to Thomas, the IT Manager for Contoso, to create a full copy Sandbox instance for him.

After the full copy is complete, Isaac receives a mail from Thomas telling him the Sandbox instance is ready. Isaac logs into the Sandbox instance and makes the necessary changes to make sure that production external services will not be impacted by the Sandbox instance. Once changes are complete, Isaac turns off administration mode and enables background services. Isaac is able to use the full copy Sandbox instance to do his testing and later manually import the solution into production.

Minimal copy instance

A Minimal copy only includes users, customizations, and schema from the source instance and is suitable for:

  • Iterative team development

  • Partner/ISV solutions

  • Proof of concept

An example scenario

Isaac has a large development project starting next week for the sales department. He has a team of developers ready to start on the project, some of whom are internal to Contoso and some are external vendors. The Contoso sales application contains Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that the sales manager has explicitly stated must not be made available to any external parties for privacy and legal liability reasons. Isaac requests a minimal copy Sandbox instance that does not contain any production data or users. In addition, Isaac creates an Office 365 security group to give the development team access to the Sandbox instance.

After modifying and enabling some of the plug-ins, the developer Sandbox instance functions the same and is completely isolated from the production application. The development team works on their modifications in this instance for several weeks. They package their changes into a solution and export/import to deploy to the full copy Sandbox instance. After a successful round of testing and signoffs, the changes are manually deployed to production.

Entities copied in a Minimal copy

The following entities are copied when you do a Minimal copy:



























To copy an instance

  1. Browse to the Office 365 admin center and sign in using Office 365 Global administrator credentials.


    Global administrators can copy all available instances. CRM System administrators can copy instances for which they have the System administrator role.

  2. Click Admin > CRM.

  3. Choose the Instances tab.

  4. Select an instance, and then choose Copy.

  5. On the copy instance page, select a target instance, a copy type, adjust the instance settings as needed, and then choose Copy.

    A target instance can be a Sandbox or Preview instance; not a Production instance.


    The target instance will be deleted and replaced with a copy of the data and customizations from the source instance. You won’t be able to recover any deleted data.

  6. Choose yes in the confirmation dialog box.

Once the copy process is complete, the target instance is placed in Administration mode and background operations are disabled. The next section describes recommended Administrator actions for the newly created copy (target) instance.

Next steps after copying an instance

To ensure the newly created copy (target) instance does not impact your production instance, once the copy operation is complete, two things happen:

  1. The newly created copy instance is placed in administration mode. Only those with CRM System Administrator or System Customizer security roles can sign in and manage the copy instance. Regular CRM users cannot sign in and use the copy instance.

  2. Background operations are disabled in the copy instance. Disabled operations include workflows and synchronization with Microsoft Exchange.

Review components

You should review the status of application components in the copy instance with external connections such as Yammer, email, plug-ins, custom workflow activities, etc. Review these and consider what action to take:

  1. Disable the component.

  2. Redirect the component to another service instance such as one running Exchange or SharePoint.

  3. Do nothing – leave the component as is in the copy instance. For example, you might decide to allow Yammer posting to both the copy and production instances.

Here are some possible application components in the copy instance that could have external connections and therefore could impact services with the same connections in your production instance.

  • Email. A mailbox cannot be synced with two different instances. For a full copy instance, the user mailboxes in the copy instance must be disabled so the mailboxes do not attempt to send or receive email, or track appointments, contacts, or tasks. Set synchronization for the following to None.

    • Incoming Email

    • Outgoing Email

    • Appointments, Contacts, Tasks

    More information: Set the delivery method for incoming and outgoing email

  • SharePoint. Deactivate or redirect SharePoint to a sandbox SharePoint environment to prevent impacting documents in Microsoft Dynamics CRM managed by SharePoint. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, go to Settings > Documentation Management > SharePoint Sites. Select your site, and then click or tap Deactivate.

  • Yammer. Disable Yammer or redirect to a separate Yammer service to prevent posts made in the copy instance conflicting with posts made in the production instance. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, go to Settings > Administration > Yammer Configuration.

    After creating a new Sandbox instance, workflows and system jobs might be pending execution. Apart from these jobs, if you have connected Yammer to CRM there will be Yammer activity streams posted from CRM to Yammer asynchronously. These activity streams are not visible through the system jobs. If there were any pending Yammer activity streams before the Disable Background Process is turned on, these activity steams will be posted to the current Yammer configuration once the Disable Background Process is turned back off. In the Sandbox instance, if you have your current Yammer configuration connected to the same Yammer network as your production environment, you might see duplicate activity streams. To avoid duplicate Yammer activity streams, redirect your Sandbox instance to another Yammer network (possibly a test network) before turning background processes back on.

  • Platform extensibility. Consider disabling the following that could be running in the copy instance and impacting external service components.

    • Server-side plug-ins.

    • Workflow custom activity.

  • Client extensibility. Review the following.

    • Client-side JavaScript. Take a look at your JavaScript and HTML web resources for read/write operations that could impact external services.

    • IFRAMES. Determine if the target of an IFRAME is a production instance.

See Also


Manage CRM Online Sandbox instances
Manage Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online instances

Other Resources

Introducing Sandbox Instances in CRM Online

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