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October, 2013:

Recover data from an unattached content database

In SharePoint 2010 and 2013 we have the possibility to recover SharePoint objects and content from unattached content databases. When we say unattached, we mean that we didn’t attach a content database to SharePoint Web Application using power shell commands or the Content Databases options available in the Central Admin, instead, we use this approach to connect to a SharePoint content database restored just in SQL Server not in SharePoint, allowing us to be more proactive on the recovery of files, sites, lists etc.

Access SharePoint Central Administration site and access the Recover data from an unattached content database option available in the Backup and Restore left menu


Provide the SQL Server name or alias and specify the name of the content database you want to connect to get SharePoint objects, select the type of recovery you want to do.


Search and select the site collection you want to backup locally from the SQL Server attached content database. As you can see here, SharePoint is capable to query the attached content database in SQL Server and present the Site Collections, Sites and Lists available.


Provide the share folder path for storing the backup file where the content selected will be extracted from SQL Server. Start the backup process


You can monitor the progress of the backup process




Validate the backup file


Run a restore PowerShell command to restore the backup

Restore-SPSite http://intranet/teams/sp -Path \\d21-da\Scripts\backup\sp.bak

Validate restored site collection and ask SQL Team to remove the backup database from SQL Server instance