How to Add a Server to a SharePoint Farm

Back in July 2021, I wrote a post explaining how to install SharePoint Server Subscription Edition in a virtual machine (VM). SharePoint Server Subscription Edition is the new on-premises SharePoint Server product from Microsoft. Are you ready for more SharePoint goodness? Good.

In my first post on this topic, I installed a new Windows Server 2019 server VM in my Hyper-V environment. I then installed SQL Server 2019. This laid the groundwork for the SQL content and configuration databases that are created during the first SharePoint server install in a ‘farm.’ A SharePoint farm is two or more servers sharing SQL configuration and content data.

The next step was installing another new Windows Server 2019 server VM. Then I installed SharePoint Server Subscription Edition (Preview). You can download it here.

Add a server to a SharePoint Farm

The agenda for this post is to install a second SharePoint server in our farm. Let’s start!

Running SharePoint Setup on a new VM

In this example, we’ll be installing SharePoint Server on Windows Server 2022. Let’s double-click on ‘splash.hta’, which is the same as double-clicking on the mounted ISO drive (D:, E:, etc.).

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SharePoint Setup Splash Screen

First, we need the prerequisites installed. Click on Install software prerequisites.

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Alllllllrighty then! We are good to go. For good measure, I checked Windows Update. There were no further updates. Let’s proceed. Back on the SharePoint Server setup screen, I’ll click Install SharePoint Server.

The first screen asks us for our product key. When the final version is out later this year, you’ll have your product keys to use here. For now, I’ll input the Preview keys Microsoft published on their website. (Click to expand the ‘Install Instructions’ section on the download page.)

I accepted the license terms, accepted the default install locations for the SharePoint binaries, and clicked Install Now.

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Installing SharePoint Server Subscription Edition Preview…

And, it worked!

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Install Complete – Ready for Configuration Wizard

SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard

So, at this point, the SharePoint software is installed. However, there has been no configuration yet. Is it part of a new install? No, we are going to add this as a second server to our existing farm. After I clicked Close, it prompted for a reboot.


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SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard

I will then verify the first option is selected, Connect to an existing server farm, and click Next.

I typed in our existing SQL Server’s hostname and clicked the Retrieve Database Names button…and…voila!

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Entering our SQL Server in the Config Database Settings page

Doh! Wait a minute…

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Roadblock – Single server farm issue

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Roadblock – Single Server Farm issue

Well, well. If that isn’t a showstopper, huh? And yes, I distinctly recall there being a few core install options when we were installing the initial server. For simplicity’s sake, I chose Single Server Farm. By design, there is only a single server allowed with that scenario/role.

Let’s see if we can make this work using experience, deduction, intuition, and RTFM. 🙂

Reconfigure SharePoint Products on ‘AD-WS19-SSSE-01’

Let’s hop over to AD-WS19-SSSE-01 and disconnect this server from the farm. From the Start Menu, I ran ‘SharePoint Preview Products Configuration Wizard.’

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Trying to salvage our Single Server Farm…

I clicked Next and then chose the Disconnect from this server farm option.

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Disconnect from this server farm

The Point of No Return.

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Are you SURE you want to disconnect? 😉

Yes, we are sure. Crossing fingers…OK, at the end, it said Configuration Successful. Good. Let’s continue to re-configure the environment.

To recover from this block in our flowchart, we need to dynamically (no choice) re-design our SharePoint topology. We will run the Configuration Wizard on the original server, AD-WS19-SSSE-01, choosing a dedicated role, then continue setup on the new server we just built. Remember, the goal of this post is to add some redundancy into our relatively basic SharePoint infrastructure.

Again, on AD-WS19-SSSE-01, I ran the same SharePoint Preview Products Configuration Wizard. This time, I chose Connect to an existing server farm and entered our database server name. It then prompted me for the passphrase for the SharePoint Products farm.

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Specify Farm Security Settings

Now, we are at the crucial ‘Specify Server Role’ screen.

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Specify Server Role

For our ‘first’ server, we will choose Front-end. (For our second new server, we’ll choose Application.

As our existing SQL configuration and content is still intact, all the necessary fields are pre-filled from the existing ‘SharePoint_Config’ database.

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Completing…again…the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard

The configuration was completed successfully! We are back in business and ready to resume our installation of the second server.

Configure SharePoint Products on ‘WS22-SSSE-02’

Meanwhile…on WS22-SSSE-02, let’s resume the SharePoint Products Configuration Wizard. I will again attempt to connect to our newly renovated existing farm. [waiting, impatiently…] Success! The screen asking for the content database server name now allowed me past as the environment is no longer running a ‘Single Server Farm’ role.

Remember, we have a ‘Front-end’ server configured on WS19-SSSE-01. Following along, I entered the farm security passphrase; we are ready to add our ‘first’ Application role server.

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Specify Server Role – Application

And away we go!

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WS22-SSSE-02 – Configuring Products…

Success, again! 😉 I refreshed the SharePoint Central Administration website on our trusty Windows 10 client machine. I clicked ‘Manage servers in this farm’, and we now have three.

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SharePoint – Three Servers in our Farm!

For good measure, I created a third Site Collection.

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Third Site Collection – Windows 11

And that is it! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any comments or questions about what you’d like to see next, please leave a comment or ask me something on Twitter (@mdreinders).