SQL SERVER – Unable to Restore From Backup After Detach Operation

SQL SERVER - Unable to Restore From Backup After Detach Operation help_button While doing community work I travel a lot, speak at various conferences and get a chance to meet many new faces. The best part is that I get a chance to hear a variety of issues which people face while using SQL Server. This blog post is an outcome of one such interaction with a DBA from one of the organizations I had to meet.

After the conference a young guy came to me and said – “I found a bug in SQL Server Restore”. I was amazed with his confidence and asked him to tell more before concluding. He said that to restore a database from backup, you need to have same database created before restore. I told that there is something which is not right with the test which he is performing because that doesn’t sound correct. I gave him my email address and asked to contact me to find more. I was eagerly waiting for his mail as this was on top of my mind and I was restless for two days. Finally the mail landed-

He sent an email repro steps.

  1. Create new database.
  2. Take a backup of the database.
  3. Detach the database.
  4. Restore from backup taken in step 2. This step would fail.

I followed the same steps

CREATE DATABASE SQLAuth
GO
BACKUP DATABASE SQLAuth TO DISK = 'C:\Temp\SQLAuth.bak' WITH FORMAT
GO
sp_detach_db 'SQLAuth'
GO
RESTORE DATABASE SQLAuth FROM DISK = 'C:\Temp\SQLAuth.bak'
GO


As soon as I run the last command of restore, I get below error

Msg 3142, Level 16, State 1, Line 7
File "SQLAuth" cannot be restored over the existing "E:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.SQL2014\MSSQL\DATA\SQLAuth.mdf". 
Reissue the RESTORE statement using WITH REPLACE to overwrite pre-existing files, or WITH MOVE to identify an alternate location.
Msg 3142, Level 16, State 1, Line 7
File "SQLAuth_log" cannot be restored over the existing "E:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.SQL2014\MSSQL\DATA\SQLAuth_log.ldf". 
Reissue the RESTORE statement using WITH REPLACE to overwrite pre-existing files, or WITH MOVE to identify an alternate location.
Msg 3119, Level 16, State 1, Line 7
Problems were identified while planning for the RESTORE statement. Previous messages provide details.

Msg 3013, Level 16, State 1, Line 7
RESTORE DATABASE is terminating abnormally.

Error Message is very clear about the cause of restore failure. Since we detached the database, the mdf and ldf files are still available at the location when the database was created. It’s good that SQL is not over writing the files by itself unless we specify explicitly.

If you want to over write the files then we can use the “WITH REPLACE” clause to the command as shown below.

RESTORE DATABASE SQLAuth FROM DISK = 'C:\Temp\SQLAuth.bak' WITH REPLACE


If we don’t detach the database and perform restore on top of existing database like below

CREATE DATABASE SQLAuth
GO
BACKUP DATABASE SQLAuth TO DISK = 'C:\Temp\SQLAuth.bak' WITH FORMAT
GO
RESTORE DATABASE SQLAuth FROM DISK = 'C:\Temp\SQLAuth.bak'
GO


Then we will get a slightly different message as shown below:

Msg 3159, Level 16, State 1, Line 5
The tail of the log for the database "SQLAuth" has not been backed up. Use BACKUP LOG WITH NORECOVERY to backup the log if it contains work you do not want to lose. Use the WITH REPLACE or WITH STOPAT clause of the RESTORE statement to just overwrite the contents of the log.
Msg 3013, Level 16, State 1, Line 5
RESTORE DATABASE is terminating abnormally.

Again, this is a safety mechanism where a user has to confirm their actions. Recall the situation when you have an existing file in windows and you paste same file at same location – you always get warning. SQL Server is no different and I was pleasantly relived with the fact that this was not a bug inside SQL Server. I am glad the DBA did send me this information because it made me revalidate and play around with backups with SQL Server.

Reference: Pinal Dave (https://blog.sqlauthority.com)

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