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Attach a SQL Server database with a missing transaction log file

MSSQLTips author Ashish Kumar Mehta By:   |   Read Comments (10)   |   Related Tips: More > Database Administration

The development team approached me with an MDF file of a SQL Server database which they wanted to restore on their server. The developer had some very critical and complex stored procedures which were stored in the ProductsDB.MDF file. However, since this database was kept offline; during the disk cleanup unfortunately one of the developers deleted the transaction log file for this database. As this was a development server there were no database backup jobs scheduled. Since, this database was very critical for the development team they wanted to know if there was a way to recover and use this database. In this tip, we will cover how to attach a database that does not have its transaction log files.

In this tip, we will go through the steps which need to be performed to recover a database when you only have the MDF file of a SQL Server database. The below steps work in both SQL Server 2005 and SQL Server 2008.

Using SQL Server Management Studio - Attach a SQL Server Database without a Transactional Log File

1. Connect to SQL Server 2008 Instance using SQL Server Management Studio

2. In Object Explorer, right click Databases node and select "Attach..." option from the drop down list as shown in the snippet below.

3. This will open up an Attach Databases window as shown in the below snippet.

4. In the Attach Databases window click on "Add..." button as highlighted in the above snippet to open the Locate Databases Files window as shown below.

5. In Locate Databases Files window you need to browse and locate the MDF file which is relevant to the database you want to attach and then click OK.  In our example I am using the "ProductsDB.mdf" file.

6. In the Attach Databases window; you will see that SQL Server informs us that the log file is not found, in our case the missing file is "ProductsDB_Log.LDF". In order to attach the database without the ProductsDB_Log.LDF transaction log file you need to select the file as highlighted in the below snippet and click the "Remove" button and finally click OK to attach ProductsDB database without the transaction log file.

7. That's it you have successfully attached a database without using the transaction log file.  SQL Server will create a new transaction log file for you and will place the file in the same folder as the data file.

Using T-SQL - Attach a SQL Server Database without a Transaction Log File

DBAs can also attach a SQL Server database without a transaction log file using the below T-SQL code. 

In this first script we are using the CREATE DATABASE with ATTACH option and specifying the name and location of the mdf file that we have for this database.

USE [master]
( FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.SQL2008\MSSQL\DATA\ProductsDB.mdf' )

Once the above T-SQL code has executed successfully you will get the below message which informs you that SQL Server has created a new transaction log file for the database.

File activation failure. The physical file name "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.SQL2008\MSSQL\DATA\ProductsDB_log.ldf" may be incorrect.

New log file 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.SQL2008\MSSQL\DATA\ProductsDB_log.LDF' was created.

Verify Logical and Physical Integrity of Database

DBAs can check the logical and physical integrity of all the objects within the database by executing a DBCC CHECKDB.  In our case we are using the "ProductsDB" database.



Next Steps

  • If your database has multiple data files you can use this approach as well to create a new transaction log file.
  • If your database had multiple transaction log files look at using the ATTACH_REBUILD_LOG option with the CREATE DATABASE command
  • If you loose one of your data files for a database you can not use this approach.  This will only rebuild a new transaction log file for you it does not recreate data files.
  • Refer to these other Database Administrator tips

Last Update: 12/7/2009

About the author
MSSQLTips author Ashish Kumar Mehta
Ashish Kumar Mehta has been contributing to the MSSQLTips.com community since 2009 with over 60 tips.

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Comments and Feedback:
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 9:48:47 PM - rodoss Read The Tip

It solved my problem!

Thank you.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 4:41:06 PM - shivrudra Read The Tip





Monday, April 02, 2012 - 3:31:04 AM - Krishnaraj Read The Tip

Above solution will work only in case if DB is cleanly shutdowned else DB server will throw error with message "The log cannot be rebuilt because the database was not cleanly shut down". Please let me know if you have any solution for this problem.

Thank you.

Friday, July 06, 2012 - 7:38:22 AM - Thinus Read The Tip

Hi this is very nice, I have a question if you only have the Log file is it posible to recover the log information if you don't have the .mdf file.


Our It Deleted the .mdf file and I only have the log file it's kind of urgent if their is a way please let me know.


Will be appreciated.

Saturday, November 03, 2012 - 3:43:39 AM - Robert Hamill Read The Tip


This is the best site for SQL explanations and troubleshooting I have found.

With this article, you have again saved me hours of research and work

Thank you - keep up good work :)


Bob Hamill

Saturday, November 17, 2012 - 1:28:33 AM - Arup Read The Tip

File activation failure. The physical file name "E:\ASWEBTECH\SaradaModelDB-2011-2012_log.ldf" may be incorrect.

New log file 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\Data\SaradaModelDB_log.LDF' was created.

Msg 1813, Level 16, State 2, Line 1

Could not open new database 'SaradaModelDB'. CREATE DATABASE is aborted.

Msg 824, Level 24, State 2, Line 1

SQL Server detected a logical consistency-based I/O error: incorrect checksum (expected: 0x66666666; actual: 0x33333333). It occurred during a read of page (1:1202) in database ID 6 at offset 0x00000000964000 in file 'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\Data\SaradaModelDB.mdf'.  Additional messages in the SQL Server error log or system event log may provide more detail. This is a severe error condition that threatens database integrity and must be corrected immediately. Complete a full database consistency check (DBCC CHECKDB). This error can be caused by many factors; for more information, see SQL Server Books Online.

Hi have this problem. please help.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 - 7:49:33 AM - Vinay Read The Tip

This article resolved my problem. Thanks.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013 - 12:13:38 PM - Bill Read The Tip

Thanks for the article; but what about SQL 2000?  I have this exact problem and was helping a buddy migrate his small business.  They have SQL 2000, and deleted transaction log.  I only have the MDF.  What can I do in sql 2000 SP3?

Friday, February 14, 2014 - 4:53:39 AM - SQLSACT Read The Tip


This solution works great if the database was shutdown cleanly, if not then the database will have to be hacked into SQL Server

I believe Gail Shaw has an excellent article that highlights this.

Sunday, February 16, 2014 - 3:26:04 AM - Rahul Read The Tip

Set Database to offline state, Dettach the database and then re-attach the database. Check your DATA file...you will find a .LDF file :)

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