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I'm connected to the remote database using SQL Server Management Studio 2008.

I'm a little bit limited for space on my server, so I just want to do a backup to an external drive connected to my laptop.

When I select the backup location (through the GUI, not T-SQL), I can only see the file structure of the server itself, and not my local machine.

Is there any way around this?

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You can issue the backup command using the UNC path of your external drive. Alternatively you can map the external drive on the server running SQL Server and then issue the backup command.

BACKUP DATABASE [databasename] TO DISK = '\\ComputerName\ExternalHardDrive\BackupFileName.bak'
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You can also type in the UNC path name in the GUI, but bear in mind, that any backup will fail if the SQL server service is running under an account which does not have access to this folder/network. –  sgmoore Sep 9 '11 at 11:28

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