I created a backup of a database on SQL Server 2005 and I wanted to restore the backup file on a SQL Server 2000. However, I am getting this error

The media family on device [path] is incorrectly formed. SQL Server cannot process this media family. RESTORE database is terminating abnormally.

I have verified that I have transferred the backup file in binary rather than text.

Is what I am trying to do possible?

  • Yeah, I've done that, too. Did my development on SQL 2005, and then went to deploy to production, and it was a SQL 2000 box. Oops. – BradC Jun 10 '09 at 18:46

Not possible.

Here is an MSDN forum post that describes how to create scripts from the SQL 2005 database that you can run on a SQL 2000 server that re-create the database, including data.

Note that if all you have is a 2005 backup file, you'll have to restore it to a 2005 instance before you can create these scripts.

  • Thanks, I followed the steps in the link you provided and it works. – David Jun 10 '09 at 19:10

Sorry, you can't attach a newer version database to a older version server.

Try a DTS copy job from 2000 to 2005. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms345120(sql.90).aspx


I have a blog post that explains the various errors you may see when trying to do this. See Msg 602, Level 21, State 50, Line 1.

Back in my SQL Q&A column in TechNet Magazine in August 2008 I explain the database upgrade process and how it changes the physical structures of the database, bumping the physical database version as it goes, so previous server versions can't use the newer database versions.

Hope this helps set some background.

  • I wish MS would consider adding a "compatibility switch" so that this scenario would be possible. We're often already on the new version (e.g. SQL 2008) while our customers are still on the previous one. We can never send back a db backup for them to restore.... but that would be extremely helpful at times! – marc_s Jun 12 '09 at 7:33

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