My situation is little weird--I have no access to the source database server, but I do have the database backups of a database that is encrypted with TDE. When I restore it to another server, I am getting an error about the certificate.

I cannot access the source master database. How can I restore the encrypted database on another server?

  • 4
    If you don't have the certificates or a backup of them, then you cannot restore an encrypted database. If you can get access to the source server then you can back them up again, but if it's truly lost or gone and you can't find the certificates then you simply cannot restore or access these databases. If you have a data security team or system administration team then I would ask them if they have the certificates (it's common to store them separate from the backups for security). Oct 22 '18 at 14:00
  • Without certificate I believe it is not possible to restore.
    – Shanky
    Oct 22 '18 at 14:00

The primary purpose of TDE is that someone can't just take the backup or database files and start up the database on another server. Accordingly, the answer is no, you cannot restore it without restoring the certificate that was used to encrypt it.


I belive that you backup the certificate like this:

BACKUP CERTIFICATE mycertificate TO FILE = 'C:\temp\mycert.cer'
BACKUP SERVICE MASTER KEY TO FILE = 'C:\temp\mymasterkey.cer' ENCRYPTION BY PASSWORD = 'mypassword'  

on the new server:


CREATE CERTIFICATE mycert FROM FILE = 'C:\temp\mycert.cer'

but would love to know if I'm wrong. It is a bit difficult to do a proper test.

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