.MDF File Recovery

Have files been deleted due to a user’s error or software error? Have you formatted a disk by accident and need to know how to recover the files? Read our .MDF file recovery guide for Windows, MacOS, Android and IOS in 2023.

MDF File Recovery

What is a .MDF file?

Primary database file format used by Microsoft SQL Server, an enterprise-level database program; used for database files installed with SQL Server and related add-ons; custom MDF files may also be created by the user.

What Are Common Causes of ".MDF" Files Lost or Failure?

There are several common causes of ".MDF" (Microsoft SQL Server Database) files lost or failure, including:

  1. Hardware failure: If there is a hardware failure in the storage device where the ".MDF" file is stored, such as a hard drive crash, it can lead to the loss or corruption of the file.
  2. Software or application errors: Errors in the SQL Server software or other applications that interact with the ".MDF" file can cause data corruption or loss.
  3. Accidental deletion: Human error, such as accidentally deleting the ".MDF" file or formatting the storage device, can result in the loss of the file.
  4. Virus or malware attacks: Malicious software can infect the ".MDF" file, leading to its corruption or loss.
  5. Power outages or system crashes: Unexpected power outages or system crashes while the ".MDF" file is being accessed or modified can cause data corruption or loss.
  6. Insufficient disk space: If there is not enough disk space available to store the ".MDF" file, it can become corrupted or fail.
  7. Database corruption: Corruption within the database itself, which can be caused by various factors such as improper shutdowns, disk errors, or software bugs, can result in the loss or failure of the ".MDF" file.

It is important to regularly backup ".MDF" files to prevent data loss and have a recovery plan in place to minimize the impact of any potential failures.

How to recover lost ".MDF" files?

Sometimes while working with a computer, laptop or other stationary or mobile devices, you may encounter various bugs, freezes, hardware or software failures, even in spite of regular updates and junk cleaning. As a result, an important ".MDF" file may be deleted.

Go to view
🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

By no means should you think that the only way to recover a ".MDF" file is always to create it once more.

Use programs for recovering ".MDF" files if a file was lost after accidental or deliberate deleting, formatting the memory card or the internal storage, cleaning the storage device, after a virus attack or a system failure.

Programs to recover ".MDF" files

Looking for a way to get files back? In cases when files were deleted and they cannot be restored by using standard operating system tools, use Hetman Partition Recovery.

The tool recovers data from any devices, regardless of the cause of data loss.

Follow the directions below:

  1. Download Hetman Partition Recovery, install and start the program.

  2. The program will automatically scan the computer and display all hard disks and removable drives connected to it, as well as physical and local disks.

    File Recovery Software
  3. Double-click on the disk from which you need to recover ".MDF" files, and select analysis type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Analysis Type
  4. When the scanning is over, you will be shown the files for recovery.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Files that Can be Restored
  5. To find a file you need, use the program’s interface to open the folder it was deleted from, or go to the folder "Content-Aware Analysis" and select the required file type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Deep Scan
  6. Select the files you have been looking for and click "Recovery".

    File Recovery Software - Files List for Recovery
  7. Choose one of the methods for saving the files and recover them.

    Saving recovered files in Hetman Partition Recovery

How to open file with ".MDF" extension?

Looking for how to open a stereo sQL Server Database File image file file?

Programs that open ".MDF" files

Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Microsoft SQL Server 2016
Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 Microsoft Visual Studio 2019
Aryson SQL Database Recovery Aryson SQL Database Recovery

Additional Information

  • File type: SQL Server Database File

  • File extension: .MDF

  • Developer: Microsoft

  • Category: Database Files

  • Format: N/A

  • HEX: 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

  • File types that use the extension .MDF:

    • SQL Server Database File

    • Media Disc Image File

    • Measurement Data Format File

    • Translation Memory Data Find File


We will be happy to answer your questions!

Comments (1)

  • Hetman Software: Data Recovery
    Hetman Software: Data Recovery 18.12.2019 16:31 #
    Leave a comment if you have any questions about Recovering lost .MDF files after deleting, cleaning or formatting!
Post comment
Leave a reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Vladimir Artiukh

Author: Vladimir Artiukh, Technical Writer

Vladimir Artiukh is a technical writer for Hetman Software, as well as the voice and face of their English-speaking YouTube channel, Hetman Software: Data Recovery for Windows. He handles tutorials, how-tos, and detailed reviews on how the company’s tools work with all kinds of data storage devices.

Oleg Afonin

Editor: Oleg Afonin, Technical Writer

Oleg Afonin is an expert in mobile forensics, data recovery and computer systems. He often attends large data security conferences, and writes several blogs for such resources as xaker.ru, Elcomsoft and Habr. In addition to his online activities, Oleg’s articles are also published in professional magazines. Also, Oleg Afonin is the co-author of a well-known book, Mobile Forensics - Advanced Investigative Strategies.


Questions and answers

  • What is the process of .MDF recovery and how does it work?

    The process of .MDF recovery involves restoring or repairing a corrupt or damaged Microsoft SQL Server database file (.MDF). Here is a general outline of how it works:

    1. Identify the Issue: Determine the cause of the corruption or damage to the .MDF file. It could be due to hardware failure, software issues, improper shutdown, virus/malware attack, or other factors.
    2. Take a Backup: Before attempting any recovery process, it is crucial to create a backup of the original .MDF file to avoid any data loss during the recovery process.
    3. Use SQL Server Management Studio: If the corruption is minor, you can try using the SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to attach and repair the database. This involves detaching the corrupt database, copying the .MDF and .LDF files to a different location, reattaching them in SSMS, and running the DBCC CHECKDB command to check for and fix any issues.
    4. Use Database Repair Tools: If the corruption is severe or SSMS fails to repair the database, you can utilize third-party database repair tools specifically designed for .MDF recovery. These tools scan the corrupt .MDF file, extract data, and rebuild the database structure. They often have advanced algorithms to handle complex corruption scenarios.
    5. Manual Recovery: In some cases, manual recovery techniques may be required. This involves using Transact-SQL commands to restore the database, rebuilding indexes, repairing system tables, or other manual interventions. This step requires a good understanding of SQL Server and is generally performed by experienced database administrators.
    6. Verify and Restore: After the recovery process, it is essential to verify the integrity of the recovered database. Run integrity checks, perform test queries, and ensure that all data is intact. If everything looks good, you can replace the original .MDF file with the recovered one.

    It is important to note that the success of .MDF recovery depends on the severity of corruption, the availability of backups, the tools used, and the expertise of the person performing the recovery.

  • What are the common reasons for .MDF file corruption and the need for recovery?

    There are several common reasons for .MDF file corruption and the need for recovery, including:

    1. Hardware failure: Issues with the storage device where the .MDF file is stored, such as bad sectors, disk errors, or power outages, can lead to corruption.
    2. Software bugs or glitches: Errors within the database management system (DBMS) software or any other software interacting with the .MDF file can cause corruption.
    3. Virus or malware attacks: Malicious software can modify or delete the .MDF file, leading to corruption.
    4. Improper shutdown: If the database is not closed properly or the system crashes during a write operation, it can result in corruption.
    5. File system errors: Issues with the file system structure, such as file system corruption or improper handling of the .MDF file, can cause corruption.
    6. Human errors: Accidental deletion, overwriting, or modification of the .MDF file by users or administrators can lead to corruption.
    7. Incompatible software or drivers: Using incompatible or outdated software or drivers can result in corruption of the .MDF file.

    The need for recovery arises when the .MDF file becomes inaccessible or unusable due to corruption. Recovery is required to restore the data stored in the .MDF file and make it accessible again. Without recovery, the data may be lost or become inconsistent, leading to data integrity issues and operational disruptions.

  • Are there any specific tools or software available for .MDF recovery, and what are their features and limitations?

    Yes, there are several tools and software available for .MDF recovery. Some of the popular ones are:

    1. SysTools SQL Recovery: This software can recover corrupt SQL database files (.MDF) and restore them to a new database or as a SQL script. It supports recovery from all versions of SQL Server and offers a preview of recovered data. However, the free version has limitations on saving the recovered data.
    2. Stellar Repair for MS SQL: This tool can repair corrupt SQL database files and recover all database components including tables, views, triggers, etc. It supports SQL Server 2019 and earlier versions. It provides a preview of recoverable data and allows users to save the repaired database to a new database or as a script.
    3. DataNumen SQL Recovery: This software can repair and recover corrupt SQL database files. It supports SQL Server 2005 to 2019 and can handle large database files. It offers a batch recovery option and allows users to save the recovered data to a new database or as a SQL script.
    4. Kernel for SQL Database Recovery: This tool can repair corrupt SQL database files and recover all database objects. It supports SQL Server 2019 and earlier versions. It provides a preview of recoverable data and allows users to save the recovered data to a new database or as a script.

    Limitations of these tools may vary, but some common limitations include:

    • Limited support for advanced features of SQL Server.
    • Inability to recover highly corrupted or severely damaged database files.
    • Limited support for specific versions of SQL Server.
    • Some tools may have limitations on saving the recovered data in the free version.
    • Performance may vary depending on the size and complexity of the database file.

    It is recommended to try the free versions or trial versions of these tools to evaluate their features and limitations before making a purchase decision.

Hello! This is AI-based Hetman Software virtual assistant, and it will answer any of your questions right away.
Start Chat