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I'm trying to use 'RESTORE HEADERONLY' to get the date when the backup I'm about to restore was made.

The command:

RESTORE HEADERONLY FROM DISK = '<path to .bak file>'

works fine in query analyzer and gives a resultset with something like 50 columns.

The problem is actually accessing this from code.

I can get this into a temptable by declaring every single one of the 50:ish columns, inserting into it with exec and getting the value I want from there.

The problem is that I really want to avoid having to declare the entire resultset as a temptable as it seems like a very brittle solution if they ever add columns to it in future versions.

Is there any way to just get a single column out of this resultset without declaring all the columns?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This works for me.

SELECT BackupStartDate 
FROM DISK = ''''C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQL2008\MSSQL\Backup\DB1.bak''''

The ad hoc distributed queries Option needs to be enabled. Or if you don't want to do that you can set up a loopback linked server and use that instead.

EXEC sp_addlinkedserver @server = 'LOCALSERVER',  @srvproduct = '',
                        @provider = 'SQLOLEDB', @datasrc = @@servername

SELECT BackupStartDate 
               'SET FMTONLY OFF;
               RESTORE HEADERONLY 
               FROM DISK = ''''C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQL2008\MSSQL\Backup\DB1.bak''''
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I dont think I will be able to sell accepting the security implications of turning on ad hoc queries:/ Still though, thank you for the idea. Other people might be able to use it. –  alun Feb 8 '12 at 11:05
@alun - You can set up a linked server instead. –  Martin Smith Feb 8 '12 at 11:17
Interesting. I will give that a try. Thank you. –  alun Feb 8 '12 at 12:22
This seems to work perfectly. Nice work! –  alun Feb 8 '12 at 14:11
+1 Pretty clever way to avoid having to declare the table. –  Jason Cumberland Feb 8 '12 at 18:50

The old-fashioned way, for reference:

declare @backupFile varchar(max) = 'C:\backupfile.bak';
declare @dbName varchar(256);
declare @headers table ( BackupName varchar(256), BackupDescription varchar(256), BackupType varchar(256), 
ExpirationDate varchar(256), Compressed varchar(256), Position varchar(256), DeviceType varchar(256), 
UserName varchar(256), ServerName varchar(256), DatabaseName varchar(256), DatabaseVersion varchar(256), 
DatabaseCreationDate varchar(256), BackupSize varchar(256), FirstLSN varchar(256), LastLSN varchar(256), 
CheckpointLSN varchar(256), DatabaseBackupLSN varchar(256), BackupStartDate varchar(256), BackupFinishDate varchar(256), 
SortOrder varchar(256), CodePage varchar(256), UnicodeLocaleId varchar(256), UnicodeComparisonStyle varchar(256), 
CompatibilityLevel varchar(256), SoftwareVendorId varchar(256), SoftwareVersionMajor varchar(256), 
SoftwareVersionMinor varchar(256), SoftwareVersionBuild varchar(256), MachineName varchar(256), Flags varchar(256), 
BindingID varchar(256), RecoveryForkID varchar(256), Collation varchar(256), FamilyGUID varchar(256), 
HasBulkLoggedData varchar(256), IsSnapshot varchar(256), IsReadOnly varchar(256), IsSingleUser varchar(256), 
HasBackupChecksums varchar(256), IsDamaged varchar(256), BeginsLogChain varchar(256), HasIncompleteMetaData varchar(256), 
IsForceOffline varchar(256), IsCopyOnly varchar(256), FirstRecoveryForkID varchar(256), ForkPointLSN varchar(256), 
RecoveryModel varchar(256), DifferentialBaseLSN varchar(256), DifferentialBaseGUID varchar(256), 
BackupTypeDescription varchar(256), BackupSetGUID varchar(256), CompressedBackupSize varchar(256), 
Containment varchar(256) ); 
insert into @headers exec('restore headeronly from disk = '''+ @backupFile +'''');
select @dbName = DatabaseName from @headers;
select @dbName;
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Thank you! Used it in this: gist.github.com/timabell/d43b21f889bd9dada355 –  Tim Abell Jan 27 at 23:10

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