Access Denied for Site Collection Administrator

October 9, 2008

I have been carrying out some SharePoint disaster recovery planning/testing recently. One of the scenarios is restoring the content database from a failed SharePoint install, and restoring into a working, vanilla installation under a different server name/domain (therefore with a different set of active directory users).

After restoring the site content database and attaching to it within central admin, I opened the homepage of the site collection. I was logged in as the farm administrator, so was suprised to see ‘Access Denied’

This is because the site collection administrator user account did not exist on the new server/domain, nor did any of the other users with permission to access the site.

As you may well know, setting the site collection administrator is done within the site settings, so that was a no-go. My next thought was that this must be possible with the command line stsadm tool – Nope, no so!

Luckily, Microsoft MVP Gary Lapointe has developed some rather cool extensions to stsadm which provide a whole host of goodies not available in the standard stsadm.exe tool. One of these add-ons is the ability to set a SharePoint sites collection administrator!

The add-ons are installed as a global solution, available to download at http://stsadm.blogspot.com. Bear in mind there are two versions, one for WSS and one for MOSS.

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