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Create a Full Database Backup (SQL Server)

This topic describes how to create a full database backup in SQL Server 2012 by using SQL Server Management Studio, Transact-SQL, or PowerShell.

Note Note

Starting with SQL Server 2012 SP1 Cumulative Update 2, SQL Server backup to the Windows Azure Blob storage service is supported. For more information, see Backup and Restore Enhancements, and SQL Server Backup and Restore with Windows Azure Blob Storage Service.

In This Topic

Limitations and Restrictions

  • The BACKUP statement is not allowed in an explicit or implicit transaction.

  • Backups that are created by more recent version of SQL Server cannot be restored in earlier versions of SQL Server.

  • For more information, see Backup Overview (SQL Server).


  • As a database increases in size full database backups take more time to finish and require more storage space. Therefore, for a large database, you might want to supplement a full database backup with a series of differential database backups. For more information, see Differential Backups (SQL Server).

  • You can estimate the size of a full database backup by using the sp_spaceused system stored procedure.

  • By default, every successful backup operation adds an entry in the SQL Server error log and in the system event log. If back up the log very frequently, these success messages accumulate quickly, resulting in huge error logs that can make finding other messages difficult. In such cases you can suppress these log entries by using trace flag 3226 if none of your scripts depend on those entries. For more information, see Trace Flags (Transact-SQL).


TRUSTWORTHY is set to OFF on a database backup. For information about how to set TRUSTWORTHY to ON, see ALTER DATABASE SET Options (Transact-SQL).

Beginning with SQL Server 2012 the PASSWORD and MEDIAPASSWORD options are discontinued for creating backups. You can still restore backups created with passwords.


BACKUP DATABASE and BACKUP LOG permissions default to members of the sysadmin fixed server role and the db_owner and db_backupoperator fixed database roles.

Ownership and permission problems on the backup device's physical file can interfere with a backup operation. SQL Server must be able to read and write to the device; the account under which the SQL Server service runs must have write permissions. However, sp_addumpdevice, which adds an entry for a backup device in the system tables, does not check file access permissions. Such problems on the backup device's physical file may not appear until the physical resource is accessed when the backup or restore is attempted.

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Note Note

When you specify a back up task by using SQL Server Management Studio, you can generate the corresponding Transact-SQL BACKUP script by clicking the Script button and selecting a script destination.

To back up a database

  1. After connecting to the appropriate instance of the Microsoft SQL Server Database Engine, in Object Explorer, click the server name to expand the server tree.

  2. Expand Databases, and depending on the database, either select a user database or expand System Databases and select a system database.

  3. Right-click the database, point to Tasks, and then click Back Up. The Back Up Database dialog box appears.

  4. In the Database list box, verify the database name. You can optionally select a different database from the list.

  5. You can perform a database backup for any recovery model (FULL, BULK_LOGGED, or SIMPLE).

  6. In the Backup type list box, select Full.

    Note that after creating a full database backup, you can create a differential database backup; for more information, see Create a Differential Database Backup (SQL Server).

  7. Optionally, you can select Copy Only Backup to create a copy-only backup. A copy-only backup is a SQL Server backup that is independent of the sequence of conventional SQL Server backups. For more information, see Copy-Only Backups (SQL Server).

    Note Note

    When the Differential option is selected, you cannot create a copy-only backup.

  8. For Backup component, click Database.

  9. Either accept the default backup set name suggested in the Name text box, or enter a different name for the backup set.

  10. Optionally, in the Description text box, enter a description of the backup set.

  11. Specify when the backup set will expire and can be overwritten without explicitly skipping verification of the expiration data:

    • To have the backup set expire after a specific number of days, click After (the default option), and enter the number of days after set creation that the set will expire. This value can be from 0 to 99999 days; a value of 0 days means that the backup set will never expire.

      The default value is set in the Default backup media retention (in days) option of the Server Properties dialog box (Database Settings Page). To access this, right-click the server name in Object Explorer and select properties; then select the Database Settings page.

    • To have the backup set expire on a specific date, click On, and enter the date on which the set will expire.

      For more information about backup expiration dates, see BACKUP (Transact-SQL).

  12. Choose the type of backup destination by clicking Disk or Tape. To select the paths of up to 64 disk or tape drives containing a single media set, click Add. The selected paths are displayed in the Backup to list box.

    To remove a backup destination, select it and click Remove. To view the contents of a backup destination, select it and click Contents.

  13. To view or select the advanced options, click Options in the Select a page pane.

  14. Select an Overwrite Media option, by clicking one of the following:

    • Back up to the existing media set

      For this option, click either Append to the existing backup set or Overwrite all existing backup sets. For more information, see Media Sets, Media Families, and Backup Sets (SQL Server).

      Optionally, select Check media set name and backup set expiration to cause the backup operation to verify the date and time at which the media set and backup set expire.

      Optionally, enter a name in the Media set name text box. If no name is specified, a media set with a blank name is created. If you specify a media set name, the media (tape or disk) is checked to see whether the actual name matches the name you enter here.

    • Back up to a new media set, and erase all existing backup sets

      For this option, enter a name in the New media set name text box, and, optionally, describe the media set in the New media set description text box.

  15. In the Reliability section, optionally check:

  16. If you are backing up to a tape drive (as specified in the Destination section of the General page), the Unload the tape after backup option is active. Clicking this option activates the Rewind the tape before unloading option.

    Note Note

    The options in the Transaction log section are inactive unless you are backing up a transaction log (as specified in the Backup type section of the General page).

  17. SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and later supports backup compression. By default, whether a backup is compressed depends on the value of the backup-compression default server configuration option. However, regardless of the current server-level default, you can compress a backup by checking Compress backup, and you can prevent compression by checking Do not compress backup.

    To view or change the current backup compression default

Note Note

Alternatively, you can use the Maintenance Plan Wizard to create database backups.

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To create a full database backup

  1. Execute the BACKUP DATABASE statement to create the full database backup, specifying:

    • The name of the database to back up.

    • The backup device where the full database backup is written.

    The basic Transact-SQL syntax for a full database backup is:

    BACKUP DATABASE database

    TO backup_device [ ,...n ]

    [ WITH with_options [ ,...o ] ] ;




    Is the database that is to be backed up.

    backup_device [ ,...n ]

    Specifies a list of from 1 to 64 backup devices to use for the backup operation. You can specify a physical backup device, or you can specify a corresponding logical backup device, if already defined. To specify a physical backup device, use the DISK or TAPE option:

    { DISK | TAPE } = physical_backup_device_name

    For more information, see Backup Devices (SQL Server).

    WITH with_options [ ,...o ]

    Optionally, specifies one or more additional options, o. For information about some of the basic with options, see step 2.

  2. Optionally, specify one or more WITH options. A few basic WITH options are described here. For information about all the WITH options, see BACKUP (Transact-SQL).

    • Basic backup set WITH options:


      In SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and later only, specifies whether backup compression is performed on this backup, overriding the server-level default.

      DESCRIPTION = { 'text' | @text_variable }

      Specifies the free-form text that describes the backup set. The string can have a maximum of 255 characters.

      NAME = { backup_set_name | @backup_set_name_var }

      Specifies the name of the backup set. Names can have a maximum of 128 characters. If NAME is not specified, it is blank.

    • Basic backup set WITH options:

      By default, BACKUP appends the backup to an existing media set, preserving existing backup sets. To explicitly specify this, use the NOINIT option. For information about appending to existing backup sets, see Media Sets, Media Families, and Backup Sets (SQL Server).

      Alternatively, to format the backup media, use the FORMAT option:

      FORMAT [ , MEDIANAME= { media_name | @media_name_variable } ] [ , MEDIADESCRIPTION = { text | @text_variable } ]

      Use the FORMAT clause when you are using media for the first time or you want to overwrite all existing data. Optionally, assign the new media a media name and description.

      Important note Important

      Use extreme caution when you are using the FORMAT clause of the BACKUP statement because this destroys any backups that were previously stored on the backup media.

Examples (Transact-SQL)

A. Backing up to a disk device

The following example backs up the complete AdventureWorks2012 database to disk, by using FORMAT to create a new media set.

USE AdventureWorks2012;
BACKUP DATABASE AdventureWorks2012
TO DISK = 'Z:\SQLServerBackups\AdventureWorks2012.Bak'
      MEDIANAME = 'Z_SQLServerBackups',
      NAME = 'Full Backup of AdventureWorks2012';

B. Backing up to a tape device

The following example backs up the complete AdventureWorks2012 database to tape, appending the backup to the previous backups.

USE AdventureWorks2012;
BACKUP DATABASE AdventureWorks2012
   TO TAPE = '\\.\Tape0'
      NAME = 'Full Backup of AdventureWorks2012';

C. Backing up to a logical tape device

The following example creates a logical backup device for a tape drive. The example then backs up the complete AdventureWorks2012 database to that device.

-- Create a logical backup device, 
-- AdventureWorks2012_Bak_Tape, for tape device \\.\tape0.
USE master;
EXEC sp_addumpdevice 'tape', 'AdventureWorks2012_Bak_Tape', '\\.\tape0'; 
USE AdventureWorks2012;
BACKUP DATABASE AdventureWorks2012
   TO AdventureWorks2012_Bak_Tape
      MEDIANAME = 'AdventureWorks2012_Bak_Tape',
      MEDIADESCRIPTION = '\\.\tape0', 
      NAME = 'Full Backup of AdventureWorks2012';

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  1. Use the Backup-SqlDatabase cmdlet. To explicitly indicate that this is a full database backup, specify the -BackupAction parameter with its default value, Database. This parameter is optional for full database backups.

    The following example creates a full database backup of the MyDB database to the default backup location of the server instance Computer\Instance. Optionally, this example specifies -BackupAction Database.

    --Enter this command at the PowerShell command prompt, C:\PS>
    Backup-SqlDatabase -ServerInstance Computer\Instance -Database MyDB -BackupAction Database

To set up and use the SQL Server PowerShell provider

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