How to Open BAK File in SQL Server | 4 Methods

Are you curious about how to open BAK files in SQL Server and explore their significance? Read this article which delves into the BAK files, explaining what they are and providing step-by-step instructions.


By Zelia / Updated on July 7, 2023

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What is the BAK file in SQL server

BAK file in SQL Server is a backup file that contains a copy of a SQL Server database at a specific point in time. It is created using the SQL Server backup and restore functionality and has the file extension ".bak".

The BAK file contains all the data and metadata required to restore multiple databases to its original state at the time the backup was taken. This includes the tables, indexes, stored procedures, views, and other database objects, as well as the data contained within them.

Creating regular backups of your SQL Server databases is essential to ensure that you can recover your data in case of hardware failure, user errors, or other issues. The BAK file is one of the most common backup formats used in SQL Server, and there are two reasons why BAK file is significant:

  • Data protection: In case of a system crash, hardware failure, or any other unforeseen event, having a backup of your database can help prevent data loss.
  • Easy recovery: With BAK file, it is easy to recover lost data or restore a database to a previous state. This can be especially useful in cases where data has been accidentally deleted or corrupted.


How to open a BAK file in SQL Server [4 Methods]

To open BAK file SQL, you can open it in SQL Server or without using it. The following methods outline the basic process for you:

Methods for open BAK file in SQL Server

✧ Method 1. Use Transact-SQL script

The principle of this method is to execute a specific query to inspect the content of the SQL BAK file after it has been restored to the server. To use this method, you can follow the instructions provided below.

1. Open SQL Server Management Studio and connect to the database engine.

2. Click on New Query option to start or write a new query.


3. Next, run the following query to restore the SQL BAK file directly to the server.





4. Once the file is restored on the SQL Server, it would be convenient for you to open BAK file SQL and view its content there.

✧ Method 2. Use SQL Server Management Studio

You can export the same database and then restore the MSSQL database using the SQL Server Management Studio's Restore option to inspect the content of the SQL BAK file on the server.

1. Run the SSMS on your system to open BAK file in SQL Server Management Studio.

2. Right-click on the database and follow Tasks >> Restore >> Database.

3. On the Restore Database page, navigate to the Source for restore section and click on or Browse option to the From device option.


4. Select the BAK file from the saved location and click OK. Then select Full Database Backup and Transaction Log as your backup sets, click OK.

5. After that, the BAK file restoration process will begin. Hold off till it is finished.

7. After right-clicking the database to be exported, selecting Task >> Export data, and then following the onscreen steps, this restored file can now be seen on the server or on Excel by exporting it in the SSMS.


Methods for open BAK file without SQL Server

✧ Method 1. Convert SQL BAK file to Excel format

You can examine and open BAK file without SQL Server by using this method. The SQL BAK file is being converted to an excel file format in this instance so that records, tables, and other data may be viewed on it. The specific steps of this method are listed below.

Note: For security reasons, it is advised to copy the MSSQL BAK file and store it to an external source location or external disc. This is in case the file becomes corrupted during the conversion to an excel file.

1. You should first make sure of this. Navigate to Windows Explorer on your system, and click View >> Options. Go to the Advanced Setting section of the Folders page and clear the checkbox saying "Hide Extension for Known File Type". Click OK.


2. Right-click on the MSSQL BAK file, and then select Rename from the context menu.


3. Modify the file extension to either .xls to.xlsx.

4. After that, check the SQL BAK file content in the converted excel file by opening it.

✧ Method 2. Use Powershell

In PowerShell, you can create BAK file using the Backup-SqlDatabase command in the SQL Server PowerShell module. The Backup-SqlDatabase command requires you to specify options such as the name of the backup database, the path and name of the backup file, and the backup settings.

Backup-SqlDatabase -ServerInstance "localhost" -Database "AdventureWorks" -BackupFile "C:\Backup\AdventureWorks.bak" -CompressionOption On;

Easier alternative to backup and restore SQL database

While traditional backup and restoration methods involve using BAK files, there are alternative solutions available that offer a simpler approach. One such solution is using third-party backup and recovery software, like AOMEI Cyber Backup, which provides intuitive interfaces and you don't need to run commands or scripts to create a database backup. Many traditional databases backup use Transact-SQL script, but this is error-prone and inconvenient. However, AOMEI Cyber Backup streamlines processes for database backup and restoration and offers some additional benefits as follows:

✽ Easy-to-use: With the intuitive interface, it's easy to configure SQL backups without script.
✽ Centralized Backup: Schedule backups of SQL server database and run it automatically.
✽ Schedule Backup: Create backup schedules to automate backups daily, weekly, monthly.

AOMEI Cyber Backup supports Microsoft SQL 2005-2022, including SQL Express. In addition, it also supports the virtual machine backup within LAN, please download the 30-day free trial to have a try:

Download Free TrialMicrosoft SQL Server 2005-2022
Centralized and Secure SQL Backup

Simple steps to backup SQL database

1. Access to Source Device >> Add Microsoft SQL. If the database exists and the version is supported, it will appear automatically. Otherwise, you can click ​​​Add Microsoft SQL >> Download proxy program, and install the program on the device with SQL Server installed. Then click ​​​​Already installed proxy and select the proxies you want to add.


2. Click>> Authentication to validate the database instance. You can choose Windows Authentication or SQL Authentication. Enter the credentials and click Verify.


3. Create Backup Task: Click Backup Task >> Create New Task, and select Microsoft SQL Backup as your backup type. Then set the Device Name, Backup Target, Schedule, Backup Cleanup and Email Notification according to your need.


  • Device Name: Click Device Name to select SQL instance and database for backup. You can choose the number of databases you want to backup according to your needs.


  • Backup Target: Specify a local path or network path as backup target. To back up SQL database to remote location, you could click Add a new network storage. The added path will be saved in Add storage.


  • Schedule (optional): Set up a schedule to run the SQL database backup daily/weekly/monthly, and set the backup method as Full/Incremental/Differential.


  • Backup Cleanup: Help you to delete older backup version automatically and therefore save storage space.


  • Email Notification: Enable you to receive email notifications when the task is abnormal or successful.


4. Start Backup: You can choose to Add the schedule and start backup now or Add the schedule only and click Start Backup to execute automatic SQL server backup.


Easy steps to restore SQL database from backup

The tasks you create for backups will be listed and monitored separately so you can check their progress, change their schedules, and restore them.

1. Click Backup Task on the left menu bar, locate the task you want to restore, and click >> Restore.


2. Specify the target location by choosing Restore to original location or Restore to new location.



In the world of SQL Server database management, BAK files are indispensable for backup and restoration purposes. Understanding the significance of BAK files and their role in data protection and recovery is crucial for you.

While it is a standard practice to open BAK file SQL Server, exploring alternative solutions like AOMEI Cyber Backup that simplifies the backup and restoration process and provides an efficient and user-friendly experience. By implementing effective backup and restoration strategies, you can safeguard their critical data and ensure uninterrupted operations in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

Zelia · Editor
Zelia is an editor from AOMEI Technology.She mainly writes articles about virtual machine. Writing is one of her hobbies and she wants her articles to be seen by more people. In her spare time, she likes to draw and listen to music, and it is a pleasure for her to focus on her own world.