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I have started SQL Server in single user mode like this: c:\....\sqlservr -m

When I try to connect to it with SQLCMD -E, I get the following error:

Msg 18461, Level 14, State 1, Server SERVERNAME, Line 1
Login failed to user 'USER\Name'. Reason: Server is in single user mode. Only one administrator can connect at this time.

The user I am logged onto the server as is a domain administrator.

Before I tried this, the user I am logged on as had nothing to do with this SQL server. (I am in fact, trying to create a new SA as we don't know what the current password is)


It seems that even if I do:

c:\....\sqlservr -m"sqlcmd"

I am still getting the above error. I am not sure if there are other SQLCMD calls happening from elsewhere.

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Being a domain admin might not have any effect on login rights. Since SS2008, local administrators group is no longer added into to sysadmin role without user interaction. –  vonPryz Oct 1 '13 at 12:32

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This case is explicitly called out in Connect to SQL Server When System Administrators Are Locked Out:

When you start an instance of SQL Server in single-user mode, first stop the SQL Server Agent service. Otherwise, SQL Server Agent might connect first and prevent you from connecting as a second user.

When you use the -m option with sqlcmd or SQL Server Management Studio, you can limit the connections to a specified client application. For example, -m"sqlcmd" limits connections to a single connection and that connection must identify itself as the sqlcmd client program. Use this option when you are starting SQL Server in single-user mode and an unknown client application is taking the only available connection. To connect through the Query Editor in Management Studio, use -m"Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio - Query".

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@RemusRasanu Thanks. I have tried that, but I still get the error. I have updated my question accordingly. –  rhughes Oct 2 '13 at 8:01
"I am not sure if there are other SQLCMD calls happening from elsewhere": well, until you are sure that it does not then the simplest explanation is that it does. –  Remus Rusanu Oct 2 '13 at 8:09
You can try to use netstat and see who is connected to the SQL listening port to help you narrow down the search space. –  Remus Rusanu Oct 2 '13 at 17:02
Fantastic answer, and 100% spot on. Thanks! Using 'netstat' really helped! –  rhughes Oct 3 '13 at 5:52

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