Tips to Restore Master SQL Database in MS SQL

Yatendra Singh
Yatendra Singh

Updated On - October 18, 2022

Developed by Microsoft, MS SQL Server is a Relational Database Management System which serves with the objective of storing & retrieving data requested by other applications, running either on same or another computer connected with the network.

Like any other software, MS SQL Server also confronts problems like database corruption including other issues due to virus attacks, hardware failure, network problems, SQL injections, etc. Which ultimately leads to the scene of database recovery.

The process of database recovery followed by database restoration is not as straight and simple as it seems. And before starting, it is important to go through & understand the standard approach for database restoration.

Read also: How to Repair Corrupt SQL Database?

The database restoration can be confusing and may not end as expected, due to lack of enough knowledge about the process & other related information.

Therefore, in this article, we’ll walk you through the process/method of master SQL Database restoration followed by the tips that can help you prepare in advance to overcome data loss situations.

Before we jump right onto the process of master SQL Database restoration, let’s first understand what a master database is?

Master Database

MS Server maintains a set of system-level databases which plays a big role in the working of a server instance and are essential for the functioning of a server instance.

Master database is one from the set of system-level databases; it records the whole system level information for a SQL Server system, which includes instance-wide metadata such as logon accounts, endpoints, linked servers, and system configuration settings.

Additionally, the master database records the information regarding the existence of rest other databases & their locations. It records the initialization information for SQL Server as well. Thus, in case of unavailability of the master database, SQL Server cannot start.


Now, that you’ve read about master database, let’s move ahead. To ensure that in situations when database corruption or any other issue appears, creating database backups is the best practice, as periodic database backups comes handy for fast restoration and running the server instance again as early as possible.

Full Backup of SQL Server Database

Creating a full SQL Server database backup will set you to prepare for such circumstances, but some limitations and restrictions are associated with the same, which are as follows:

  • For explicit and implicit transactions, performing the BACKUP statement is not allowed.
    Note:Explicit Transaction: A transaction that is precisely started with BEGIN TRANSACTION statement and ended with a COMMIT or ROLLBACK statement.Implicit Transaction: A new transaction which implicitly starts when the prior transaction completes, but each transaction is precisely completed with a COMMIT or ROLLBACK statement.
  • Backups created using the latest version of SQL Server can’t be restored with the earlier versions of SQL Server.

Create a Full SQL Server Database Backup

For creating a full SQL Server database backup, execute the BACKUP DATABASE statement/query, which specifies the following information:

  • The database name (of the database to be backed up).
  • Specific Backup device on which you want the full database backup to be written & stored.

Example query to backup the SQL Server database onto a disk storage device using Transact-SQL:

USE TechForums19;


TO DISK = ‘Z:\SQLServerBackups\TechForums19.Bak’
MEDIANAME = ‘Z_SQLServerBackups’,
NAME = ‘Full Backup of TechForums19’,

Here, TechForums19 is the database which we’ve selected, change it with the specific database you will opt for backup.

SQL Server Differential Backup an Ace Practice

It takes more time to complete full SQL Server database backup when the database size increases, and inversely requires more storage space. Thus, for SQL Databases larger in size, it is recommended to complement the full SQL Server database backup with regular differential database backups effective with every full database backup.

Creating differential database backups is a common practice to prepare for worst case scenarios. Below are the points that elaborate SQL Server Differential Backup:

SQL Server Differential Backup

  • A SQL Server backup created after the full database backup is termed as “Differential Backup.”
  • It contains only the data that has either change or updated since the full backup.
  • The full database backup after which the differential backup is executed is termed as the base of the differential database backup.
  • Except for copy-only backups, the Full SQL Server Database backup can serve as the base for later differential backups, which incorporates database backups, partial backups, and file backups.
  • Base backup for a file differential backup can be packed within a full backup or file backup or partial backup.

With the below illustration, it is quite easy to understand how the differential backup works whenever triggered:

There are various benefits associated with differential backups:

  • Very fast compared to creating a full database backup.
  • It records only the data that has changed or updated since the last full database backup on which the differential backup is based.
  • Expedites creating frequent database backups resulting in low risk of data loss.
  • In comparison with the full database recovery model, creating differential backups slashes the number of log backups which you may have to restore.

Restore master Database Using Transact-SQL

Now that you’ve learned about the standard tips on how you can be prepared to restore master database faster with no time wasted let’s now discuss how you can restore the master database using Transact-SQL.

Restoring the master database is a multi-step process which is as follows:

  1. Start the SQL Server instance in single-user mode.
  2. Use the RESTORE DATABASE Transact-SQL statement/query.
  3. Restart the SQL Server instance and proceed with other database recovery steps like restoring other databases, attaching databases, and correcting user mismatches.

Before we start restoring the master database using Transact-SQL, let’s go through the point-1 given above.

It is necessary to start the SQL Server in single-user mode to be able to initiate the master database restoration, therefore, below are the steps to guide you on how to specify the single-user startup parameter (-m):

  1. Press + Q > type Microsoft SQL Server 20XX – version of MS SQL Server.
  2. Move to Configuration tools and click SQL Server Configuration Manager.
  3. Inside the SQL Server Manager Configuration Manager, click SQL Server Services.
  4. Right-click on SQL Server (*instance_name*) In the right pane, and click Properties.
  5. Click on Startup Parameters tab.
  6. Inside the Specify a startup parameter box, type -m and click Add.
  7. Click Ok and restart the Database Engine.

Restore master database – Transact-SQL

Follow the steps below:

  1. Open the sqlcmd utility.
  2. Type the follow statement/query:
  3. C : \ > sqlcmd
    1 > RESTORE DATABASE master FROM DISK = ‘Z: \SQLServerBackups\master.bak’
    2 > GO

    Above statement/query restores the master database on default SQL Server instance from the disk device Z: \ SQLServerBackups\master.bak

Recoveryfix for SQL Database

Creating Full Database backups followed by differential database backups ensures that you can restore the data after the situations of data losses. In cases when there remains no room for restoration of any set of system-level databases due to database file corruption or any other issue, standard tips like above doesn’t come handy.

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In such cases, we’d suggest using Recoveryfix for SQL Database Recovery tool.

Recoveryfix for SQL Database Recovery tool enables you to repair corrupt SQL Database files irrespective of the corruption type, corruption intensity, etc.

The tool is bundled with features like dual saving modes (Server mode, & Batch mode) and is compatible with all MS SQL Database versions.


Differential database backups help in reducing database backup file size, in pacing up the backup process, and in reducing the overall time required compared to full database backups. Though it is essential first to create a full database backup and then, the differential backup using the recent version of Microsoft SQL Server, where the full database backup becomes the base for differential backups. But if you don’t have any backups, they try RecoveryFix for SQL Database Recovery recover the SQL data.

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