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Know How to Attach MDF File in SQL Server

Published By Nilesh Kumar
Debasish Pramanik
Approved By Debasish Pramanik
Published On June 6th, 2024
Reading Time 7 Minutes Reading
Category SQL Server

Summary: Looking for ways to connect .mdf file to SQL Server? Here, we have best solutions for you.

Every organization needs a platform where they can store their whole information. This information is either about the customer or any of the organization-related queries. But where can we store this huge part of the information? How can we manage it? All of your queries will be solved here along with the solution to attach MDF file in SQL server in a safe manner. Here, users can use both MDF SQL server management studio and automated solutions.

For such related issues of storage, we can use SQL Server, a product by Microsoft to create a database with ease. Here, we are going to know about some methods how to connect .mdf file to SQL Server Management studio.

Important Note: In case your MDF File is inaccessible, you can take the help of Recover SQL Database Software to resolve such issues.

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Table of Contents

Need to Attach MDF File to An Existing Database

Before we learn how to import MDF file in SQL server, it’s good to go through the reasons first. Let us understand with a real-time example where the user needs to attach the file to an existing one.

I have a database created on SSMS 2008 but now I want to update it for SQL Server 2019. For this, I have to attach MDF file in SQL server management studio but when I tried for the same it shows me the error while accessing the MDF file. Would you please help me to access my Database file so that I can work with my data in SQL Server 2019?

Note:- If users just want to attach their MDF files to server just for viewing, they can use the reliable SQL Viewer Software Tool also. It is a better option for this case.

Also Read: SQL Server Does Not Exist or Access Denied Issue Resolved

Know-How to Connect .mdf File to SQL Server Management Studio Manually

Learning how to open MDF file in SQL server is a steady task. Therefore, we need to perform it carefully. Here we are giving two different methods to attach the file in SQL Server.

#Method 1: Using SSMS

To attach the database file using SQL Server Management Studio or to connect database file to SQL Server  we need to follow some steps sequentially which are described below:

  • Open SSMS & connect it with the database engine
  • Right-click on databases & Click Attach button
  • After clicking Attach you will enter on the Attach Database Dialog box. Select ADD.
  • In the Locate Database dialog box which contains the default database location, you can also add the desired location & select the file.
  • Now you can review your database detail in the currently open window
  • Click Ok, once the database attached successfully you can view it on object explorer.

#Method 2: Using T-SQL Query

If you know how to create MDF file in SQL server & want to attach the file, T-SQL queries are another solution for you. We can attach MDF File to an existing database using T-SQL commands. Follow these steps to connect database file to SQL Server with the help of T-SQL Query:

  • Open Database Engine
  • From options, click New Query
  • Use the syntax of Create database with For Attach clause as described below:


   ON (FILENAME = ‘C:\MySQLServer\AdventureWorks_Data.mdf’),

   (FILENAME = ‘C:\MySQLServer\AdventureWorks_Log.ldf’)


Errors Encounter When We Attach MDF File In SQL server

The methods provided above are effective to use but are not able to provide a solution every time. Sometimes it results in some errors when trying to attach database files. Here are some common errors which arise at the time of performing attachment. These errors trouble users while they import MDF file to SQL server & results in further blunders.

  • Error 5123: Failed to retrieve data for the request

In MS SQL Server, this error occurs when the entire process is running on the system but having no permission to run a program folder. This can only be solved with the right tool & technique in use.

  • Access Denied Due To Lack Of Permission

An error occurs as unable to access physical database file: Access denied. This is due to providing a lack of permissions on databases or log files. Our solution can connect .mdf File to SQL Server safely & resolve this error.

  • Unable to Downgrade

While performing attachment of database file note that it is not valid to convert a higher version file to a lower version. If it does, then it encounters an error as The database cannot be opened because it is version XXX.

Proficient Solution To Attach MDF File to An Existing Database

The errors shown above will create problems at the time while attaching a file to an existing database. There is a minor chance of getting the desired result with the help of manual methods. So, if failed to Attach MDF File In SQL server management studio Manually try this one-stop solution that can perform your whole work efficiently without any extra effort. SQL Recovery utility can easily connect database file to SQL Server without any type of interruption in the process. This software supports all the versions of MS SQL Server.

What’s more-

  • Repair corrupted MDF & NDF database files.
  • It allow users to open MDF file & preview all objects.
  • Option to recover deleted database objects and table records.
  • Export data to live SQL Server in the same machine or a server network.
  • Export database into SQL Compatible Scripts or Export data from MS SQL Server to CSV.
  • Allows to export data into an existing database or as a new database.

Steps to Know How to connect .mdf file to SQL Server management studio

Here is given step by step guide to using this utility to attach the database file easily:

  • Download & Run the SQL Recovery software
  • Click on Open & browse your MDF file
connect .mdf file to SQL Server
  • Click on Advanced Scan & Select the desired version by unchecking the Auto-Detect option
connect .mdf file to SQL Server
  • Check the radio button to add NDF file manually or automatically & click Ok
connect .mdf file to SQL Server
  • The software process & show some output details & Scans MDF files.
connect .mdf file to SQL Server
  • After that, you can preview the data item where deleted items are shown with red color.  Then Export database by clicking on export & fill the desired credentials

SQL Server Error 5120 Attach Database

  • The software shows the results for the exported detail.
connect .mdf file

Note: Read this similar post to know how to Restore SQL Database from bak file.

Bringing It All Together 

Here in this blog, How to connect .mdf file to SQL server management studio. Also, we discussed over manual methods to perform to attach the .mdf file. But in case if you won’t be able to perform this process then the user can take the help of Recover SQL Database Software to attach the database to SQL Server easily.

Also Read: How to Reorganize and Rebuild Index in SQL Server Database? An Overview

Trusted User Reviews

The way this solution is explained here is in the most simplified form. Moreover, I took help from the automated solution. Learning how to open MDF file in SQL server is not a tough task. The right technique is all you need. I highly recommend the recovery tool for users to get back lost SQL MDF data files.
– Edwin Barrett, USA

It was easy for me to create MDF file SQL server but attaching a file to SQL Server was a problem for me. Not anymore as the automated solution to remove damages & repair files helped me. It’s quite nice to have such a smart utility if you are using Microsoft SQL Server.
– Jasper Fleming, USA

The modern-day features of this tool to import MDF file to SQL server are quite helpful. Moreover, the above-mentioned solution helped us to simply attach our MDF file to the server as well.
– Noel Scott, USA

The name of this brand is perfectly suited to them. They are indeed the doctor. This solution is perfect & so easy to implement. I highly recommend you guys try the automated tool to learn how to import MDF file in SQL server in a better way.
– Chloe Cox, USA


By Nilesh Kumar

As a Chief Technical Writer, I know the technical issues faced by home and professional users. So, I decided to share all my knowledge via this blog. I love to help you with challenges while dealing with technical jargon.