Restore a SQL database

Restore a SQL database

In the realm of database administration, one of the most critical tasks is the ability to restore databases efficiently and accurately. This blog post will delve into an essential aspect of SQL Server management: restoring a database from a backup file. We will specifically look at two variations of the RESTORE DATABASE command, using the well-known AdventureWorks2012 database as an example.

Understanding the Basics of Database Restoration

Database restoration is the process of bringing a database back to its previous state by using a backup. This operation is crucial for data recovery in cases of data loss or corruption or as a part of regular maintenance.

The SQL Code for Restoration

Let’s examine the SQL code:

RESTORE DATABASE AdventureWorks2012 
FROM DISK ='Z:\SQLServerBackups\AdventureWorks2012.bak';

RESTORE DATABASE AdventureWorks2012 
FROM DISK ='Z:\SQLServerBackups\AdventureWorks2012.bak' WITH NORECOVERY;

Basic Database Restoration

The first command is straightforward. It restores the AdventureWorks2012 database from a backup file located at 'Z:\SQLServerBackups\AdventureWorks2012.bak'. This is a standard restoration process, bringing the database to its state at the backup time.

Restoration with NORECOVERY

The second command differs by including the WITH NORECOVERY clause. This is used when you plan to restore additional transaction logs after restoring from the backup file. It leaves the database in a restoring state, allowing for further log restorations.

When to Use These Commands

  1. For Basic Restoration: Use the first command to restore a database to its latest backup without applying subsequent transaction log backups.
  2. For Point-in-Time Recovery or Staged Restoration: Use the WITH NORECOVERY option when you have a series of transaction log backups that you need to apply after restoring from the full backup. This approach is often used in scenarios where point-in-time recovery is needed.

Best Practices for Database Restoration

  • Regular Backups: Ensure regular backups of your database to minimize data loss.
  • Test Your Backups: Regularly test your backups by performing restoration in a test environment.
  • Understand the Recovery Model: Know your database’s recovery model as it impacts your backup and restoration strategy.
  • Documentation: Document your restoration procedures clearly for consistent and error-free recovery processes.


Understanding how to restore a SQL Server database is fundamental for any database professional. With its different options, the command provides flexibility in managing various restoration scenarios. Mastering these commands can significantly enhance your database management capabilities, whether it’s a simple restore or a complex, point-in-time recovery.


Hi, my name is Stephen Finchett. I have been a software engineer for over 30 years and worked on complex, business critical, multi-user systems for all of my career. For the last 15 years, I have been concentrating on web based solutions using the Microsoft Stack including ASP.Net, C#, TypeScript, SQL Server and running everything at scale within Kubernetes.