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Once a Column is masked do you have to have a Masked and Unmasked clone....

Dear RedGate community, Once RedGate has been provisioned in our environment we would then go about cloning a database and setting it up for masking. Once it is masked, does that mean that this database is masked and for us to work on before and after I would have to have a second database cloned for unmasked data or can this be done with a mask key? 

Then are there any performance tips on managing the many clones in the RedGate space that are masked or unmasked?
We have the space preped and working on it but there is a lot of masking and we have to have duplicates for before and after testing and having the correct space, cpu and compute available will help to understand what extra we will need to provision for this project.

I am looking forward to your soonest response.


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    Hi @CaptainAmazing

    Thank you for reaching out on the Redgate forums regarding your masking question.

    Once you've masked a database with Data Masker, that specific clone becomes a masked version, meaning its sensitive data has been anonymized or obscured. 

    If you need to work with both masked and unmasked data for testing or development purposes, you're right in thinking you'd typically need multiple clones: masked & unmasked.

    There's no method to toggle between masked and unmasked states on a single database clone because the masking process irreversibly alters the data. It is obviously recommended to never mask a production environment.

    If you are needing to generate a lot of databases for development/QA type work then SQL Clone can provide this in scale at a fraction of the space that copying and masking a database would take. SQL Clone can create images of existing databases that can be rapidly deployed & masked. This allows baseline databases to be maintained and then copies spun up & destroyed on demand as needed by a developer.

    Details on SQL Clone, including a trial, can be found here: https://www.red-gate.com/products/sql-clone/

    Jon Kirkwood | Technical Support Engineer | Redgate Software

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