I need to restore an incremental backup of SQL server but when I tried it, it gave me an error and I realized that the full copy has been done in copy-only mode for more than a year and now it does not let me restore the incremental copy because it does not I have the full copy file that he expects. Is there a way to force the use of the copy-only full copy or to transform this type of copy to another or to extract the data from the incremental copy?


  • My high level understanding is that the differential backup will contain all extents changed in the last year, certainly seems like blindly applying them to the newer full backup should work as worst that would happen is that it rewrites pages to the same state as they were in already. Perhaps contact Microsoft Support and see if they can help? Jan 8 at 12:07
  • I also believe that it must be possible in some way, I do not care if I lose information, I just want to recover as much as possible. I can't find any SQL Server contacts to query, I'm looking at support.microsoft.com but can't find SQL Server related support. Jan 8 at 17:09
  • No, it is not possible. Jan 8 at 23:36
  • Can you clarify what you mean by "incremental" backup? Most folks (myself included) would assume you are talking about the feature called "differential" backups. However, several 3rd party backup vendors use "incremental backup" to refer to transaction log backups.
    – AMtwo
    Jan 9 at 0:46
  • Sorry is differential backup, not incremental. Jan 9 at 8:30

There's no supported way restore a differential backup into a database that has not been restored to the lsn of the differential base.

So the only zero data loss recovery plan possible is restore your latest copy_only backup and then restore log backups to roll the database forward.

Because, of course, it's not enough to have a backup strategy, you must also have a recovery plan, and test it.

  • Is there an option even if it involves data loss to force restore even if it overwrites records or loses information? Is incremental backup not. They are non-differential incremental copies, so I would only need the complete backup file (other than the not only copy) and the last incremental one, but I want to force the use of the copy only file which is the only one I have. Is there any way to cheat the system so that it can do it? Jan 8 at 17:45
  • AFAIK that would involve a hex editor or a forensic data recovery tools. This may be something Microsoft support can advise on, but that's not my area of responsibility. The link to open a support request is: support.microsoft.com/supportforbusiness/create Jan 8 at 19:20
  • And do you know if there is any tool or way to extract the database records from the incremental copy? Thanks a lot Jan 8 at 19:25
  • I am not familiar with any 3rd party tools that can do that, although they may exist. Jan 8 at 19:27
  • 1
    A painful lesson. A backup plan is of no use if it is not validated and frequently tested
    – SMor
    Jan 9 at 13:51

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