How to Restore SQL Server Master Database With or Without Backup

<strong>To reduce failed attempts from users, we will talk about restoring the SQL master database in this post.</strong>

To reduce failed attempts from users, we will talk about restoring the SQL master database in this post.

Despite being a popular relational database management system, SQL Server often encounters corruption and other issues. For this reason, SQL users often complain about being in trouble and unable to perform some simple tasks. However, it is not always the fault of SQL Server that the users cannot restore the SQL Server master database seamlessly. Sometimes, users do not have sufficient knowledge about the process either, and that is what stops them from successful database restoration. To reduce failed attempts from users, we will talk about restoring the SQL master database in this post. Continue reading to learn about the processes in detail.

Why Do You Need to Restore SQL Master Database?

Master database file (A.K.A. MDF file) is the main user database file that contains all the major data in it. If the database gets infected by a virus or encounters some other severe issue, it is the database file that gets affected in the beginning. In case of database corruption or some other errors, master database restoration is the only solution users are left with.

How to Restore SQL Server Master Database

Users who face the need to restore MDF file may or may not have a backup file with them. No matter how strange it may seem, many database admins do not regularly back up their SQL database. Hence, they do not have any backup files to restore. We will talk about both situations and how users can restore their master database with and without a backup file.

Restore SQL Server Master Database from Backup File

**User’s Query: **“Hello all. I am in urgent need to restore SQL master database. But sadly, when I try out the manual technique, I fail to perform the restoration process. I started the process by putting the Server in Single user mode, but after performing one to two more steps, I encountered some error. Not sure where I made the mistake that the process got aborted. Can you suggest how to restore master database from backup manually? I am using SQL Server Enterprise 2005 version and my operating system is Windows Server 2008 R2.”

If you have a backup of the master database, then you can easily restore the MDF file using the manual method. Make sure the backup does not contain any corruption issues. The process is short and does not need the help ofany extra tool. Here is the guide to manually restorethe master database in SQL Server.

  • Put your SQL Server instance into the single user Mode.
  • Run this TSQL command to restore the master database:


The “replace” command means the restoration process will continue even if there is a database with the same name, and the existing database will be removed.

Note: When the restoration process is complete, SQL Server instance will close down. You have to switch the single-user parameter before starting the Server again.

Restart SQL Server and perform other recovery tasks like database attachment, other database file restoration, etc.

Restore Master Database Without Backup File

User’s Query: “I am a SQL Server 2016 users and my database has become corrupt severely. The database contains a lot of business-critical data, so I cannot do away with the MDF file. Is it possible to restore SQL Server Master database without backup file? Please tell me as I am okay with both the manual and the automated method.”

It is possible that you may not have the MDF file backup with you. Earlier, users had a troublesome time without a backup, but not anymore. Now, they can easily restore the master database from their corrupt or damaged MDF file with the help of SysTools SQL Recovery. The process of restoration is simple and straight forward. Just follow the steps mentioned below and get your task done.

  • Select the Advance Scan option. Also, add the SQL Server version. If you do not know the version of the SQL MDF file, then it has an option to Auto-detect the version. Click on OK.

  • The application will scan the MDF file to fix all the corruption issues and show the scanning report.

  • You can preview any item of the master database by clicking on the tree structure of the left panel and clicking the Export button.

  • Choose Export as an option, whether you want to export as SQL Server Database or as SQL .csv scipt.

  • Enter SQL Server credentials like its server name, username, and password, and select the destination database in which you want to export your recovered database objects.

  • Select the With Schema & Data option and click the Export button, and the restoration of the master database of SQL Server will be done effortlessly.

  • You can visit the SQL Server and locate the restored database there.


Various reasons can lead you to restore the SQL Server master database. While the manual approach is fine, if you have a backup, the software will let you restore the master database without backup. Choose the solution based on your demand and restore without any trouble.

How Containerized SQL Server Makes Development Easier

How Containerized SQL Server Makes Development Easier

Managing development databases can be tricky, especially if members of the team want to develop on a Mac or Linux device. In this presentation, we learn how running SQL Server in Docker containers can help ensure a consistent development & testing experience for the entire team.

How Containerized SQL Server Makes Development Easier

Managing development databases can be tricky, especially if members of the team want to develop on a Mac or Linux device. In this presentation, we learn how running SQL Server in Docker containers can help ensure a consistent development & testing experience for the entire team.

Connect to Microsoft SQL Server database on MacOS using Python

Connect to Microsoft SQL Server database on MacOS using Python

Connect to your MS SQL using python. The first thing you need is to install Homebrew. You need the copy the content in the square brackets which in my case is “ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server”. Replace “ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server” with the content you copied in the square brackets.

There are always situations where I want to automate small tasks. I like using Python for these kind of things, you can quickly get something working without much hassle. I needed to perform some database changes in a Microsoft SQL Server database and wanted to connect to it using Python. On Windows this is usually pretty straight forward. But I use macOS as my main operating system and I had some hurdles along the way so here is a quick how to.


If Homebrew isn't installed yet let's do that first. It's an excellent package manager for macOS. Paste the following command in the terminal to install it:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

Once finished run the following commands to install the Microsoft ODBC Driver 13.1 for SQL Server. This driver will be used to connect to the MS SQL database.

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
brew tap microsoft/mssql-release
brew update
brew install [email protected] [email protected]
Python package: pyodbc or pypyodbc

With the driver installed, we'll be using a Python package that uses the driver to connect to the database. There are two frequently used packages to connect in Python: pyodbc and pypyodbcpypyodbc is a pure Python re-implementation of pyodbc. The main thing I took a way was that pypyodbcis easier to set up on different platforms. I could not get pyodbc working, it simply wouldn't connect to the database.

Installing pypyodbc can be done using pip, the python package installer.

pip install pypyodbc

Now that the necessary components have been installed, let's open our favorite code editor and write code. The first thing that needs to be done is importing pypyodbc. The script starts with this:

import pypyodbc

Then we need a connection to the database:

sqlConnection = pypyodbc.connect(
                "Driver={ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server};"
        "Server=<server IP address>;"

Note that you have to replace four values in this code: server IP addressdatabase , username and password. The value for the driver is a hard coded value which indicates what driver to use to connect to the database, this value points to the driver that was installed earlier.

Now all what rests is use the connection and run a query.

cursor = sqlConnection.cursor()
cursor.execute("select * from Values")

The cursor now contains the result of our query, the property cursor.rowcount returns the number of rows the query returned. It's now possible to loop through the rows and access the different columns:

for row in cursor:
    # first column
    firstColumn = row[0]
    # ...

When we're done, we need to clean up the cursor and database connection by closing it.


And that's it, save the file and use the python <filename>.py or python3 <> command, this depends on your configuration, to run. Here is the entire script:

import pypyodbc

sqlConnection = pypyodbc.connect(
"Driver={ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server};"
"Server=<server IP address>;"

cursor = sqlConnection.cursor()
cursor.execute("select * from Values")

for row in cursor:
# first column
firstColumn = row[0]
# ...


The with syntax can also be used to automatically close the cursor and the connection, this is another way of writing the same script:

import pypyodbc

with pypyodbc.connect(
"Driver={ODBC Driver 13 for SQL Server};"
"Server=<server IP address>;"
"uid=<username>;pwd=<password>") as sqlConnection:

with sqlConnection.cursor() as cursor:

    cursor.execute("select * from Values")

    for row in cursor:
        # first column
        firstColumn = row[0]
        # ...

If you're looking for some more reading on the topic:

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, share it with all of your programming buddies!

Further reading

☞ Python for Time Series Data Analysis

☞ Python Programming For Beginners From Scratch

☞ Python Network Programming | Network Apps & Hacking Tools

☞ Intro To SQLite Databases for Python Programming

☞ Ethical Hacking With Python, JavaScript and Kali Linux

☞ Beginner’s guide on Python: Learn python from scratch! (New)

☞ Python for Beginners: Complete Python Programming

What are the differences between Standard SQL and Transact-SQL?

What are the differences between Standard SQL and Transact-SQL?

In this article, we'll explain syntax differences between standard SQL and the Transact-SQL language dedicated to interacting with the SQL

#1 Names of Database Objects

In relational database systems, we name tables, views, and columns, but sometimes we need to use the same name as a keyword or use special characters. In standard SQL, you can place this kind of name in quotation marks (""), but in T-SQL, you can also place it in brackets ([]). Look at these examples for the name of a table in T-SQL:

CREATE TABLE dbo.test.“first name” ( Id INT, Name VARCHAR(100));
CREATE TABLE dbo.test.[first name]  ( Id INT, Name VARCHAR(100));

Only the first delimiter (the quotation marks) for the special name is also part of the SQL standard.

What Is Different in a SELECT Statement?#2 Returning Values

The SQL standard does not have a syntax for a query returning values or values coming from expressions without referring to any columns of a table, but MS SQL Server does allow for this type of expression. How? You can use a SELECT statement alone with an expression or with other values not coming from columns of the table. In T-SQL, it looks like the example below:

SELECT 12/6 ;

In this expression, we don’t need a table to evaluate 12 divided by 6, therefore, the FROM statement and the name of the table can be omitted.

#3 Limiting Records in a Result Set

In the SQL standard, you can limit the number of records in the results by using the syntax illustrated below:


T-SQL implements this syntax in a different way. The example below shows the MS SQL Server syntax:


As you notice, this uses an ORDER BY clause. Another way to select rows, but without ORDER BY, is by using the TOP clause in T-SQL:

#4 Automatically Generating Values

The SQL standard enables you to create columns with automatically generated values. The syntax to do this is shown below:


In T-SQL we can also automatically generate values, but in this way:

#5 Math Functions

Several common mathematical functions are part of the SQL standard. One of these math functions is CEIL(x), which we don’t find in T-SQL. Instead, T-SQL provides the following non-standard functions: SIGN(x), ROUND(x,[,d]) to round decimal value x to the number of decimal positions, TRUNC(x) for truncating to given number of decimal places, LOG(x) to return the natural logarithm for a value x, and RANDOM() to generate random numbers. The highest or lowest number in a list in the SQL standard is returned by MAX(list) and MIN(list) functions, but in Transact-SQL, you use the GREATEST(list) and LEAST(list) functions.

T-SQL function ROUND:


#6 Aggregate Functions

We find another syntax difference with the aggregate functions. The functions COUNT, SUM, and AVG all take an argument related to a count. T-SQL allows the use of DISTINCT before these argument values so that rows are counted only if the values are different from other rows. The SQL standard doesn't allow for the use of DISTINCT in these functions.

Standard SQL:



But in T-SQL we don’t find a population covariance function: COVAR_POP(x,y), which is defined in the SQL standard.

#7 Retrieving Parts of Dates and Times

Most relational database systems deliver many functions to operate on dates and times.

In standard SQL, the EXTRACT(YEAR FROM x) function and similar functions to select parts of dates are different from the T-SQL functions like YEAR(x) or DATEPART(year, x).

There is also a difference in getting the current date and time. Standard SQL allows you to get the current date with the CURRENT_DATE function, but in MS SQL Server, there is not a similar function, so we have to use the GETDATE function as an argument in the CAST function to convert to a DATE data type.

#8 Operating on Strings

Using functions to operate on strings is also different between the SQL standard and T-SQL. The main difference is found in removing trailing and leading spaces from a string. In standard SQL, there is the TRIM function, but in T-SQL, there are several related functions: TRIM (removing trailing and leading spaces), LTRIM (removing leading spaces), and RTRIM (removing trailing spaces).

Another very-often-used string function is SUBSTRING.

The standard SQL syntax for the SUBSTRING function looks like:

SUBSTRING(str FROM start [FOR len])

but in T-SQL, the syntax of this function looks like:

SUBSTRING(str, start, length)

There are reasons sometimes to add values coming from other columns and/or additional strings. Standard SQL enables the following syntax to do this:

As you can see, this syntax makes use of the || operator to add one string to another.

But the equivalent operator in T-SQL is the plus sign character. Look at this example:

SELECT col1 + col2  FROM tab;

In SQL Server, we also have the possibility to use the CONCAT function concatenates a list of strings:

SELECT CONCAT(col1, str1, col2, ...)  FROM tab;

We can also repeat one character several times. Standard SQL defines the function REPEAT(str, n) to do this. Transact-SQL provides the REPLICATE function. For example:


where x indicates how many times to repeat the string or character.

#9 Inequality Operator

During filtering records in a SELECT statement, sometimes we have to use an inequality operator. Standard SQL defines <> as this operator, while T-SQL allows for both the standard operator and the != operator:

SELECT col3 FROM tab WHERE col1 != col2;
#10 ISNULL Function

In T-SQL, we have the ability to replace NULL values coming from a column using the ISNULL function. This is a function that is specific to T-SQL and is not in the SQL standard.

Which Parts of DML Syntax Are Different?

In T-SQL, the basic syntax of DELETE, UPDATE, and INSERT queries is the same as the SQL standard, but differences appear in more advanced queries. Let’s look at them.

#11 OUTPUT Keyword

The OUTPUT keyword occurs in DELETE, UPDATE, and INSERT statements. It is not defined in standard SQL.

Using T-SQL, we can see extra information returned by a query. It returns both old and new values in UPDATE or the values added using INSERT or deleted using DELETE. To see this information, we have to use prefixes in INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE.

UPDATE tab SET col='new value'
OUTPUT Deleted.col, Inserted.col;

We see the result of changing records with the previous and new values in an updated column. The SQL standard does not support this feature.

#12 Syntax for INSERT INTO ... SELECT

Another structure of an INSERT query is INSERT INTO … SELECT. T-SQL allows you to insert data from another table into a destination table. Look at this query:

INSERT INTO tab SELECT col1,col2,... FROM tab_source;

It is not a standard feature but a feature characteristic of SQL Server.

#13 FROM Clause in DELETE and UPDATE

SQL Server provides extended syntax of the UPDATE and DELETE with FROM clauses. You can use DELETE with FROM to use the rows from one table to remove corresponding rows in another table by referring to a primary key and a foreign key. Similarly, you can use UPDATE with FROM update rows from one table by referring to the rows of another table using common values (primary key in one table and foreign key in second, e.g. the same city name). Here is an example:

FROM Author
WHERE Author.Id=Book.AuthorId AND Author.Name IS NULL;

SET Book.Price=Book.Price*0.2
FROM Author
WHERE Book.AuthorId=Author.Id AND Author.Id=12;

The SQL standard doesn’t provide this syntax.


You can also use INSERT, UPDATE, and DELETE using JOIN to connect to another table. An example of this is:

DELETE ItemOrder FROM ItemOrder
JOIN Item ON ItemOrder.ItemId=Item.Id
WHERE YEAR(Item.DeliveredDate) <= 2017;

This feature is not in the SQL standard.


This article does not cover all the issues about syntax differences between the SQL standard and T-SQL using the MS SQL Server system. However, this guide helps point out some basic features characteristic only of Transact-SQL and what SQL standard syntax isn’t implemented by MS SQL Server.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, share it with all of your programming buddies!

Originally published on