This blog post is the heartwarming tale of two warring factions putting their differences aside and working together for a common good. That's right, devs and admins, hand in hand, figuring out this beast we both love called SharePoint.
A couple of days ago I got an IM from a buddy of mine, Dan Attis. Like many of us he's been playing with SharePoint 2010 pretty heavily and that day he had poked it pretty hard and it didn't like it very much. It decided not to work anymore. Dan didn't want to rebuild his VM. Heck, he didn't even want to reinstall SharePoint. So his question to me was essentially, "Is there any way for me to reset SharePoint, without reinstalling it?" Now, keep in mind this was a test dev VM he was working on, it wasn't a production environment of any kind. Because of that I figured I had some latitude. The first thing that came to mind was just creating a new ConfigDB. That resets SharePoint. It's a pretty extreme measure though. I almost felt dirty suggesting it. I told Dan to run the SharePoint Config Wizard and remove the server from the farm. Then run the SharePoint Config Wizard again and instead of connecting it to an existing farm, create a new one. The important step is to give the new ConfigDB a different name than the old one. The server will now essentially be reset with a fresh version of SharePoint. Dan walked through the steps and it did exactly what he wanted. Now he was free to do whatever horrible, torturous things that devs do to SharePoint. Another dev/admin cooperation success story.
Here are screenshots of what it looks like:
The normal config wizard welcome screen.
This is the old, bad farm information. Make sure when you rerun the wizard you use a different name for your ConfigDB than what is listed here.
Click yes, this is exactly what you want to do.
That's all there is to it. The SharePoint binaries are still installed, but it's no longer configured. If you go into IIS you'll notice all your SharePoint related sites have been removed.
Now rerun the Config Wizard and create a new farm.
Click "Create a new server farm."
On the next screen input your farm information. Make sure your Database name is different than what your old ConfigDB was.
You'll have to set up a new farm passphrase, since this is a new farm.
You'll also need to set up Central Admin, since the previous Central Admin instance was removed when the server was removed from your old farm.
That's all there is to it. Look over your settings and hit Next.
Now, fairly quickly you'll have a fresh new SharePoint farm to use, or abuse if you're a dev like Dan.