So I'm in a bit of a pickle. My primary work computer has recently crashed and some of the windows files were corrupted I tried repairing but did not work. This computer was running a program that stores all my customer information and invoice data(so pretty critical). This application had a Microsoft SQL server back end. I managed to recover the data and put it on a new computer, I can launch the application but it wont work since SQL server is not running.

When ever I try to start up SQL I get the following error "SQL Server could not fine the default instance(MSSQLSERVER)" which makes sense since its not actuality installed on this new computer. Is there anyway I would be able to transfer the data over to a new instance of SQL server if I cant start up the original SQL server ?

Asking the company that made the application is not possible since they went out of business a while back.

  • 3
    You could make a copy of the .mdf and .ldf files associated with the database, and attach them to another instance of SQL Server on a separate machine. You have SQL Server backups of the database in question, right?
    – Hannah Vernon
    Nov 8, 2013 at 6:36
  • I have the full instance of the old db and i found the following files in it"master.mdf", "model.mdf", "msdbdata.mdf", "tempdb.mdf". I also found a"tms_Data.mdf" in the application folder i think the app may have created back up automatically.
    – user979490
    Nov 8, 2013 at 13:51
  • also have "masterlog.ldf","modellog.ldf", "msblog.ldf","tms_log.ldf" not sure if these are of any use?
    – user979490
    Nov 8, 2013 at 13:54
  • Were you taking any backups of SQL server databases that the application was using ?
    – Kin Shah
    Nov 8, 2013 at 14:24
  • master, model, msdb, and temp are built-in parts of SQL Server itself, and consequently likely do not contain any of your data. The tms_data.mdf and tms_log.ldf files are likely your data files. Those are the ones you need to make copies of (I cannot guarantee this since I have no real knowledge of your system!).
    – Hannah Vernon
    Nov 8, 2013 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


You can try attaching the MDF file to the new instance, but there is no guarantee that it will work. If the machine crashed while SQL Server was running, the files may actually be corrupt. If you don't have proper backups, you can try:

  name = tms_Data, 
  filename = 'e:\path\tms_data.mdf' -- <-- move this file to the data location on new box

If that doesn't work, this will probably be a very expensive lesson about why we want to take backups regularly and store them in a different location.

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