I have 50 databases on a MS SQL Server 2005 system and want to upgrade to MS SQL Server 2008.

This is what I tried on some test machines:
1. copied the \DATA directory from the source (MSSQL 2005) to exactly the same path on the target (MSSQL 2008) server.
2. edited the startup parameters on the MSSQL 2008 service to point to the path of the MSSQL 2005 master database.
3. restarted MSSQL service

It worked and I can access all databases, tables and data.

My questions are:
I go back to SQL Server 4.2 and it has never been this easy. I know it worked, but should have it worked?

Am I missing something, or is there going to be a gotcha next week? These are simple databases, with just tables, views and indexes. No cross database links, no triggers etc

  • thanks for the help folks. It just seemed to good to be true.
    – jqa
    Mar 19, 2010 at 0:05
  • just a follow up if anyone cares to know - we migrated our hosted site from one data center to another. A week before the cut over we built the new db server, tested transferring everything. Then on the cut over night we used rsync to true-up the databases, started the destination sql server service and it all worked! Much easier than a whole lot of db backup and restores.
    – jqa
    Oct 1, 2010 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


You may have some subtle issues with compatibility level (eg the new MERGE won't work) but since SQL Server 7 it's been a lot easier.

Saying that, you can't roll these MDFs back to SQL Server 2005 now anyway: the internal version has been changed. The SQL Server event log will show this happening on server startup (the same happens for attach or RESTORE too)


No, it should be fine. It may have done some work in the MDF file to make some things work, so it might not go back to 2005 okay.

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