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IT Professional with more than 16 years experience in IT especially in the area of full life-cycle of Web/Desktop Applications Development, Database Development, Software Engineering, Consultancy, Data Management, Data Quality, Data Migrations, Reporting, ERP support, etc.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Database Recovery on SQL Server 2017

I installed today SQL Server 2017 CTP 2.1 on my Lab PC without any apparent problems. It was time to recreate some of the databases I used for testing. As previously I had an evaluation version of SQL Server 2016, it expired without having a backup for one of the databases. I could recreate the database from scripts and reload the data from various text files. This would have been a relatively laborious task (estimated time > 1 hour), though the chances were pretty high that everything would go smoothly. As the database is relatively small (about 2 GB) and possible data loss was neglectable, I thought it would be possible to recover the data from the database with minimal loss in less than half of hour. I knew this was possible, as I was forced a few times in the past to recover data from damaged databases in SQL Server 2005, 2008 and 2012 environments, though being in a new environment I wasn’t sure how smooth will go and how long it would take.


Plan A - Create the database with  ATTACH_REBUILD_LOG option:

As it seems the option is available in SQL Server 2017, so I attempted to create the database via the following script:

CREATE DATABASE <database_name> ON



And as expected I run into the first error:

Msg 5120, Level 16, State 101, Line 1

Unable to open the physical file "I:\Data\<database_name>.mdf". Operating system error 5: "5(Access is denied.)".

Msg 1802, Level 16, State 7, Line 1

CREATE DATABASE failed. Some file names listed could not be created. Check related errors.

It looked like a permissions problem, though I wasn’t entirely sure which account is causing the problem. In the past I had problems with the Administrator account, so it was the first thing to try. Once I removed the permissions for Administrator account to the folder containing the database and gave it full control permissions again, I tried to create the database anew using the above script, running into the next error:

File activation failure. The physical file name "D:\Logs\<database_name>_log.ldf" may be incorrect.

The log cannot be rebuilt because there were open transactions/users when the database was shutdown, no checkpoint occurred to the database, or the database was read-only. This error could occur if the transaction log file was manually deleted or lost due to a hardware or environment failure.

Msg 1813, Level 16, State 2, Line 1

Could not open new database '<database_name>'. CREATE DATABASE is aborted.

This approach seemed to lead nowhere, so it was time for Plan B.


Plan B - Recover the database into an empty database with the same name:

Step 1: Create a new database with the same name, stop the SQL Server, then copy the old file over the new file, and delete the new log file manually. Then restarted the server.

After the restart the database will appear in Management Studio with the SUSPECT state.

Step 2:
Set the database in EMERGENCY mode:


Step 3:
Rebuild the log file:

ALTER DATABASE <database_name> REBUILD LOG ON (Name=’<database_name>_Log', FileName='D:\Logs\<database_name>.ldf')

The rebuild worked without problems.

Step 4: Set the database in MULTI_USER mode:


Step 5:
Perform a consistency check:


After 15 minutes of work the database was back online.


Always attempt to recover the data for production databases from the backup files! Use the above steps only if there is no other alternative!

The consistency check might return errors. In this case one might need to run CHECKDB with REPAIR_ALLOW_DATA_LOSS several times [2], until the database was repaired.

After recovery there can be problems with the user access. It might be needed to delete the users from the recovered database and reassign their permissions!



[1] In Recovery (2008) Creating, detaching, re-attaching, and fixing a SUSPECT database, by Paul S Randal [Online] Available from: https://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/paul/creating-detaching-re-attaching-and-fixing-a-suspect-database/ 

[2] In Recovery (2009) Misconceptions around database repair, by Paul S Randal [Online] Available from: https://www.sqlskills.com/blogs/paul/misconceptions-around-database-repair/

[3] Microsoft Blogs (2013) Recovering from Log File Corruption, by Glen Small [Online] Available from: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/glsmall/2013/11/14/recovering-from-log-file-corruption/

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