I'm getting an error whenever I restore a testing database on SQL Server 2005 that was backed up from SQL Server 2008 R2. It seems that I cannot restore from a higher version of sql onto lower version, how can I solve this?

The media family on device is incorrectly formed. SQL server cannot process this media family. RESTORE HEADERONLY is terminating abnormally.

I already tested to restore the same file in its own server (SQL Server 2008 R2) and it works, so it's not corrupted.

I cannot install the updated version of SQL into my older server, so how can I use my older SQL Server 2005 as a dev server but with the updated life data from a different instance?

1 Answer 1


You can't restore a 2008 backup on SQL Server 2005. Simply not possible.

You'll need to either:

(a) Restore it on 2008, then use Import/Export wizard, Generate Scripts Wizard, Copy Database Wizard, SSIS, 3rd party tools like SQL Compare, etc. to move the structure and data to the 2005 instance, or

(b) Upgrade. Developer Edition is $50 or so.

  • Thanks for your quick reply. So far then the only way that I can make a use of my old server -in my situation is option (A). Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 19:53
  • I guess so. What do you mean by "old server"? Like NT 4.0? What is the reason you can't install SQL Server 2008 or higher there? Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 19:55
  • No I was referring to a server that we no longer use that has an older version of SQL server 2005. It seems that it takes a while to go through IT so they can get me a copy of the SQL Server 2008, but I may ask them from now as I prefer doing my tests using a different server and not just rely on a testing database on the production machine. The upgrade is definitely easier than teaching myself SSIS! Commented Mar 31, 2014 at 20:01
  • You should match the versions and builds of test and production, unless you're deliberately trying to test a SQL Server upgrade/patch on test before deploying to production. That way you have a chance of finding any version based differences in testing, rather than the first time you hear of them is when users complain. Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 2:01
  • @Anti-weakpasswords That's what I'm trying to do actually as soon as we upgraded to make use of the unused older server(HP G2). So IT gave me a copy of the SQL server 2008 r2 finally on a DVD but unfortunately the older server has only CD drive not DVD. I tried to install it through a shared networked drive, I get an error of: "The image file of ....setup.exe is valid, but is for a machine type other than the current machine"! no luck upgrading it seems. Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 17:57

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