I want to upgrade from v5.2.7#850-sha1:b2af0c8 to newest version, but before troubling all the users we'd like to test the newest version and then import the existing projects from the current version. Is that possible?
Yes, and you should do this way, and in no other way.
You can do a XML backup on your original Jira, create a new installation, and simply import it. However once the import of data is done, all plugins will be missing. Data will be there once the plugins gets readded but all customizations for the plugins might be gone. So will dbconfig.xml if you have an external database, cacerts if you have application links to other SSL applications.
IMHO the easiest way to do an upgrade is:
Provision a new server, rsync the filesystem, dump the production database to a dump, do a sed replace on hostnames to your temporary hostname, import the data, disable notifications in setenv.sh (not to spam users with 2 updates per issue) and start up the server.
Additonally i would add every surrounding server that JIRA might talk to to /etc/hosts localhost entry (such as confluence, crucible, Bitbucket and so on) to ensure that not 2 JIRA server are chattering with your surrounding apps.
Additional files that might contain the hostname: cacerts (in the certs), dbconfig.xml (make sure not to JIRA servers talk to the same database), server.xml (proxy hostnames if you terminate SSL on apache and have this stated here), web.xml (not sure, so check it)
This way you get an exact clone, with all issues, all plugins, all customizations working at once.
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