SQL Server Recovery

Resolve SQL Server Error 3159 Using WITH REPLACE Command

Stephen West ~ Modified: March 17th, 2023 ~ SQL Backup & Restore ~ 3 Minutes Reading

sql error 3159


This guide will focus on the most practical approach for fixing SQL Server error 3159 that DBA generally come across when trying to retrieve the database from the Bulk recovery model or Full recovery model. Here, we will first know the cause of the problem and then take suitable measures to resolve it appropriately.

Table of Content

Overview of the Problem

While we know that SQL Server database is subjected to vulnerable corruption, Server outages and other unpredictable issues, but it does provide some effective ways to recover your corrupted SQL Server database. Database administrators have the option to select any of the recovery models (Simple recovery, Full recovery, Bulk recovery) that has been provided by the SQL Server to recover its database in case of any unfortunate instances. However, it has been noticed that when the database administrators attempt to restore a database that is in Full or Bulk recovery mode they get error messages as shown below

Error Message

Error Msg 3159

Cause for the SQL Server Error 3159

This happens when the database administrator tries to execute the T-SQL statement given below:

Cause Error 3159

Here, LabActions represents the database that is in Full recovery mode or Bulk recovery mode.

LabActions.bak represents the backup file of the SQL Server.

When the above query is executed by the DBA to write over the existing database for restoring the database without taking the initiative to back up the transaction log tail, you receive the error message. If you are using SQL Server Management Studio then you will get to view the following options for overwriting the database.

SSMS Overwrite

Significance of ‘WITH REPLACE’

The WITH REPLACE instructs the SQL Server to ignore any active contents in the transaction log and proceed with the restoration of database.The characteristic feature of SQL Server is that it prevents the DBA to replace the already existing database without actually having the backup of the transaction log tail.

Error 3159 Solution No. 1

To avoid such kind of consequences, it is always advised to have a tail log backup before the DBA try to restore the backup over the existing one. The transaction log tail backup is a simple procedure of having the backup of transaction logs and then putting the database to the restoration mode.On doing this, nobody will be able to carry out any operations on the database.

Error 3159 Solution No. 2

If the database administrators do not really care about the current database then they can go ahead with the process of instructing the SQL Server to try restoring the existing database specifically while they are attempting to restore the database. The format for overwriting the existing database is given as follows.

Replace Command

Resolution 3:

Another easy way out for coping up with such an error is making use of an effective option in SQL Server Management Studio. By using the Copy Database Wizard, (the copy database wizard will allow you to migrate or transfer the objects and data from one Server to another with no downtime issues).


The above method will help all the database administrators to effectively deal with the SQL Server error 3159 with Replace command. the key element here is to understand the technicalities of SQL servers which is also not very tough if you learn from the right place.