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I'm new to DB admin but learning fast. We have a large SQL Server 2008 setup and I've just implemented a three-stage testing system - Alpha, Beta and Live servers. All three run the same version of SQL Server (though Alpha is x86 while the others are x64).
As Alpha is our it'll-probably-break test machine the data doesn't have to be up-to-date, but I'd like to set up Beta to be as close to Live as possible for obvious reasons, for example pulling new data from Live every hour or similar. I've investigated Replication and set up Transactional from Beta to Alpha (I will not touch Live until I know it works), but performing transactions (selects and inserts) on Beta didn't filter back to Alpha, so I'm not sure if I've set it up properly. It goes without saying that data should only be flowing one way, Live -> Beta (and ideally Beta -> Alpha, something like daily at midnight).
Can someone point me to a tutorial on setting up such a system, or help me set the system up?
Any help much appreciated!

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Here is the Microsoft up to date MSDN article on Log Shipping.

Read over the Secondary Server section of the article I think that will help point you in the right direction.

You have mentioned you don't want all of the data to be exact replicas? Because if that is not the case then I would recommend using Database Mirroring from within SQL rather then transactional replication.

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Hey Nicholas, this looks to be exactly what I need! Thanks very much! – Gargravarr Oct 15 '10 at 15:21
Oh, meant to say, it's not as case of not 'wanting' the data to be exact replicas, but the it doesn't 'need' to be - Alpha can freely fall out of sync with the other two because we're not bothered if the data is accurate or not. However, it looks like I can use Log Shipping to keep Beta and Live in sync on an hourly basis. Thanks! – Gargravarr Oct 15 '10 at 15:22

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