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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 temp table 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 temp table 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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up vote 6 down vote accepted

This works for me.

SELECT BackupStartDate 
FROM OPENROWSET('SQLNCLI',
                'Server=MARTINPC\MSSQL2008;Trusted_Connection=yes;',
'SET NOCOUNT ON;SET FMTONLY OFF;EXEC(''
RESTORE HEADERONLY 
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 
FROM OPENQUERY(LOCALSERVER, 
               'SET FMTONLY OFF;
               EXEC(''
               RESTORE HEADERONLY 
               FROM DISK = ''''C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQL2008\MSSQL\Backup\DB1.bak''''
'')')
share|improve this answer
    
Clever, and thanks for sharing, but just for the record I think this is just as brittle/complex as the big-ole-list of columns in the end. Shame there's not an elegant solution. – Tim Abell Oct 15 '14 at 19:58
    
@TimAbell - Yes I don't think I would actually use this in practice except maybe to get the table definition in the first place. – Martin Smith Oct 15 '14 at 20:01

The old-fashioned way, for reference:

declare @backupFile varchar(max) = 'C:\backupfile.bak';
declare @dbName varchar(256);

-- THIS IS SPECIFIC TO SQL SERVER 2012
--
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),
    --
    -- This field added to retain order by
    --
    Seq int NOT NULL identity(1,1)
); 

insert into @headers exec('restore headeronly from disk = '''+ @backupFile +'''');
select @dbName = DatabaseName from @headers;
select @dbName;
share|improve this answer
1  
To get this to work in SQL2014, you'll need to have these additional fields at the end of the table : ,Containment tinyint ,KeyAlgorithm nvarchar(32) ,EncryptorThumbprint varbinary(20) ,EncryptorType nvarchar(32) – Mike Mar 18 at 1:52
    
There is also this answer, which doesn't use varchar for everything, and includes the extra columns for SQL Server 2014. – Baodad Jun 4 at 23:24

This is a version independent sp I wrote to get the backup date from a file.

It's tested for SQL 2008R2, 2012 and 2014.

IF NOT EXISTS (SELECT * FROM INFORMATION_SCHEMA.ROUTINES WHERE ROUTINE_NAME = 'spGetBackupDateFromFile')
    EXEC ('CREATE PROC dbo.spGetBackupDateFromFile AS SELECT ''stub version, to be replaced''')
GO
/*----------------------------------------------------------------------
                    spGetBackupDateFromFile
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Versie      : 1.0
Autheur     : Theo Ekelmans 
Datum       : 2016-03-31
Change      : Initial release 
------------------------------------------------------------------------*/
alter procedure dbo.spGetBackupDateFromFile(@BackupFile as varchar(1000), @DT as datetime output) as 

declare @BackupDT datetime
declare @sql varchar(8000)
declare @ProductVersion NVARCHAR(128)
declare @ProductVersionNumber TINYINT

SET @ProductVersion = CONVERT(NVARCHAR(128),SERVERPROPERTY('ProductVersion'))
SET @ProductVersionNumber = SUBSTRING(@ProductVersion, 1, (CHARINDEX('.', @ProductVersion) - 1))

if object_id('dbo.tblBackupHeader') is not null drop table dbo.tblBackupHeader

set @sql = ''

-- THIS IS GENERIC FOR SQL SERVER 2008R2, 2012 and 2014
if @ProductVersionNumber in(10, 11, 12)
set @sql = @sql +'
create table dbo.tblBackupHeader
( 
    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),'

-- THIS IS SPECIFIC TO SQL SERVER 2012
if @ProductVersionNumber in(11)
set @sql = @sql +'
    Containment varchar(256),'


-- THIS IS SPECIFIC TO SQL SERVER 2014
if @ProductVersionNumber in(12)
set @sql = @sql +'
    Containment tinyint, 
    KeyAlgorithm nvarchar(32), 
    EncryptorThumbprint varbinary(20), 
    EncryptorType nvarchar(32),'


--All versions (This field added to retain order by)
set @sql = @sql +'
    Seq int NOT NULL identity(1,1)
); 
'
exec (@sql)


set @sql = 'restore headeronly from disk = '''+ @BackupFile +'''' 

insert into dbo.tblBackupHeader 
exec(@sql)

select @DT = BackupStartDate from dbo.tblBackupHeader 

if object_id('dbo.tblBackupHeader') is not null drop table dbo.tblBackupHeader
share|improve this answer

Since you only asked about accessing the data from 'code' without specifying any details what sort of code, I hereby present the PowerShell solution:

Invoke-SQLcmd -Query "RESTORE HEADERONLY FROM DISK = 'R:\SQLFiles\MSSQL.MSSQLSERVER.Backup\Backup.bak'" | Select-Object MachineName,DatabaseName,HasBackupChecksums,BackupStartDate,BackupFinishDate
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