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I have migrated sql server 2017 to new hardware. The sql error log shows following error log whenever the sql server service is restarted.

An error occurred during service master key initialization

I recently restored the master, msdb databases from older hardware to new hardware. Linked servers don't work for example if I try to create a linked server it gives following error: An error occurred during service master key decryption. Same error when creating credential.

I understand this is something related to the SMK (service master key).

  1. Do I need to backup the SMK from the source server and restore it on destination?

  2. Doesn't the SMK already exist since I have restore the master database (assuming the SMK is held in the master db)

  3. Does the SQL server service account need to match with the source server?

  4. Why am I getting these errors?

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