Steps to Restore MDF File to Different Database Without Data Loss

Daniel Jones ~ Modified: March 18th, 2023 ~ SQL, SQL Server 2016 ~ 5 Minutes Reading


User Query 1: “Recently, I have installed Windows 10 and then, I had to reset my system. During this process, I have also reinstalled SQL Server 2014. I found out that the MDF file from the previous SQL installation is stored in my C drive. But I am clueless about how to use this file in the new server instance. Can anyone help me in this regard?”

User Query 2: “Even after a hard drive crash, I I was able to get the MDF file safely. Now I wish to restore the MDF file in the new database + computer instance. Is it possible to restore primary database file to a different database? If yes, then what is the procedure?”

User Query 3: “Hi, I have to restore Database.mdf. To do this, I have created a new database with the same name as the database to which the MDF file belonged to. However, I failed to restore the file using manual method. Now, please tell me how to do this correctly in SQL Server 2005.”

Overview of MDF File

The primary database files of SQL database are called MDF files. These files contain the main data of the database, so the importance of MDF files is beyond description. Sometimes, SQL users face the need to restore MDF to different database.

Since this is a delicate matter, many users find it difficult to perform the restoration process by themselves. Besides, many of them do not know how to move MDF file to a database with a different name. Therefore, to help these users, we will depict the complete step-by-step guide to restore MDF to a different database using SQL Recovery Software.

How to Restore SQL MDF File to a Different Database

The easiest and safest way to move an MDF file to database is using a reliable tool, such as SQL Recovery Tool. The software is compatible with MDF files created in SQL Server 2019, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2008 / 2008 R2, 2005, and 2000 versions. Unlike the manual ways, this is so far the most advanced as well as the safest solution to restore MDF file SQL server without errors.

Moreover, the tool allows you to export database in SQL Server database, SQL compatible Scripts, or CSV format. You need to follow the steps and MDF files can be exported without any trouble. Learning how to restore MDF file in SQL server is much more easier this way.

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Step-by-Step Solution to Get Best Results

  • Open the software and click on Open button.
  • Navigate to the location of primary database file and select it.
  • Choose Quick Scan or Advance Scan based on your need.
  • Choose the correct SQL Server version of the MDF file. If you do not know the version, check Auto-detect option for the software to detect the SQL version for you. Click OK.
  • The MDF file will get scanned and the summary of the primary data file will be displayed.
  • You can also save the scanned file in STR format by clicking on Yes>> Save buttons respectively.
  • Complete MDF file items will be available for Preview. Click on Export button to restore MDF to a different database.
  • In the Export Option window, choose SQL Server Database under Export To/As category.
  • Choose the way of Database Authentication from Windows Authentication or SQL Server Authentication. If you choose SQL Server authentication, enter the Server Name, login Username, and password.
  • Select the radio button beside “Export to Existing Database.
  • Choose the database name from the drop-down list.
  • Now, check the database items you wish to restore from the left panel.
  • Choose whether you want to export “With Only Schema” or “With Schema & Data” If you choose “With Schema and Data” you will also have the option to Export Deleted Records.
  • Click on Export button to begin the restoration process. When it is done, you will be notified with a message
  • The status of the Export process will appear on the screen now. If users want, they can save this status report in CSV file format.
  • Users can go to the Object Explorer of the SQL Server and locate the restored MDF file easily.

Also Read: How to Recover Truncated Data from SQL Server?


In this post, we have discussed how to restore MDF file to different database of SQL servers. Since the manual technique is tough to perform, we suggest to use SQL Recovery software. Moreover, this application is useful to easily export any MDF file to an existing or new database. By applying the steps mentioned in the blog, users can perform the restoration by themselves without any difficulty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. 1: Mention the supported SQL Server versions for this tool
Ans: This application supports 2019, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2008 / 2008 R2, 2005, and 2000 of SQL Server

Q. 2: I do not know the SQL version of MDF file. Will this be a problem?
Ans: The software can automatically detect the MDF file version. Evidently, users not knowing the version will not be an issue.

Q 3: Does this support exporting MDF file data with Schema and Data?
Ans: Yes, users can choose to restore either “Schema and Data” or “only Schema” from the MDF file as per their need.