MDF is a master database file used by Microsoft SQL Server to store data. It is known as the primary database file, which contains schema and data. MDF stores user data in the form of tables, columns, rows, triggers, functions, indexes, and views in a relational database. In SQL Server, each database has a primary MDF file.
In this post, we learn how to open MDF files. If you have MDF files and are looking for a simple way to open them, then this post will be helpful for you.
Location of the MDF file
Default MDF file location in SQL Server 2019
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL15.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA
Default MDF file location in SQL Server 2017
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL14.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA
Default MDF file location in SQL Server 2016
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA
Default MDF file location in SQL Server 2014
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA
Default MDF file location in SQL Server 2012
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA
Default MDF file location in SQL Server 2008
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA
How to open MDF files?
To open MDF files, you can use SQL Server (SSMS) and the MDF Viewer tool. Here, we will open MDF with or without SQL Server.
Open MDF file in SQL Server Management Studio
This method is known as Attach. To open the MDF file using SSMS, follow the steps below.
- Open SQL Server Management Studio
- Connect to the SQL Server Instance
- From the Sidebar, right-click on the database and select Attach
- In the Attach Databases window, click on the Add button and navigate to the location of your database
- Click on the database and select the MDF file
- Click on the OK button and click on the OK button to Attach the database
Note: If you are getting Microsoft SQL Server Error: 5120, close SSMS and run it as an administrator. After that, attach the MDF as an administrator.
Open MDF file without SQL Server
Here we are going to use the Free viewer MDF Viewer tool. There are various free MDF viewer tools available. You can choose any software as per your convenience. To open an MDF file without SQL Server, follow the steps below.
- Download and install the MDF Viewer Tool
- Open the tool and click on Open
- Select the MDF file which you want to open and click on the Open button
- Choose Quick Scan and select Auto-detect SQL server file version checkbox
- Click on the OK button to start the Scanning process
- Once done, the software will preview MDF file data
Frequently Asked Questions
What program opens .mdf files?
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Visual Studio
- MDF Viewer Tool
How to open MDF without installing SQL Server?
To open an MDF file without SQL server, you can use a third-party MDF viewer tool. There are various MDF viewer tools available. You can also try the SQL Recovery tool. The free version of the SQL Recovery tool also allows you to view MDF file data.
If you have MDF files that you need to open, but you’re not sure how, follow these steps.
Step 1: Double-click the file.
Locate the MDF file icon and double-click it. If you have the right program installed, it should open the file automatically. If it doesn’t, move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Look for another program.
If the MDF file doesn’t open when you double-click it, you probably don’t have the right program on your computer. There are several popular programs that can be used to open a MDF file. Try one of the three most common programs: ProWORX Nxt Memory Data, Star Trek Armada Map File Title & Image Information, or I-deas Master Drafting Machine Data File.
Step 3: Check the file type.
If none of the above programs will open your MDF file, check the file type to make sure you have a program that can open that type of file. Most MDF files are Misc Files, but there’s a chance it might be another type.
You can find this information in the file’s properties. On a Windows computer, just right-click the file and click properties, and look for the file type under “Type of File.” On a Mac computer, right-click the file and click “More info,” and look for the file type under “Kind.”
Step 4: Get help from a developer.
If you can’t figure out how to open a MDF file, a developer can probably tell you how. Find the program you have in the table below and contact the developer of that program.
|Program Name||Developer Name|
|ProWORX Nxt Memory Data||Schneider Electric|
|Star Trek Armada Map File Title & Image Information||Unknown|
|I-deas Master Drafting Machine Data File||PC Software Company|
|Menu Definition File||Windows Programmer|
|Fldigi Macro||Dave Freese W1HKJ|
|SQL Server Master Database File||Microsoft Corporation|
|Alcohol 120% CD Image File||Alcohol Software|
|Vector CANape / CANgraph / CANdito Measurement Data||Vector Informatik GmbH|
|Capture Classic Filler||Accelio|
|Insight II Molecular Data File||Accelrys Software Inc.|
Step 5: Find a universal file viewer.
The easiest way to open a MDF file, or any kind of file, is to use a universal file viewer like File Magic (Download). You can use it to open many different file formats. If it’s not compatible, the file will just open in binary.
The SQL Server is the relational database management system (RDMS) developed by Microsoft. The main function of the SQL Server as a database server is to store data and retrieve it when required. There are two types of SQL server database, one is MDF file and the other one is NDF file.
MDF or Master Database File. It stores all the database information like scheme and data. It contains fields, rows, column, etc formed by application. To open MDF file, you need to use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).
Manual way to open MDF file
Since MDF files are SQL server Database files which are basically log files, hence there really is no way to open them. The only way is to attach them. As soon as you attach them, you can see its database in object explorer of SQL Server Management Studio(SSMS). Given below are the steps to open MDF file:
- Launch SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)
- Connect to the SQL Server Instance
- You can now view SQL Server Instance
- In the Object Explorer, right-click on the Databases and then click on Attach
- Now an Attach Databases window is opened. Click on the Add button
- Go to the location where the MDF file is saved. Click on it to select the file and press OK button
- Again, click on the OK button to attach the database
Let’s Know Automatic Way to Open MDF file
Follow the Steps to Open MDF File Effortlessly
- Launch the MDF Recovery Software.
- Select corrupt MDF file, and open.
- Click on the “Repair” button.
- See the preview of repaired MDF file.
- Save the repaired data of MDF file into new database.
If the MDF file is damaged due to the reasons like header corruption, abrupt shutdown of the system, virus attack, accidental deletion, etc then it is not possible to open MDF file. At such times, the MDF file requires some recovery software which might repair the files for further usage. One such specialized software is Aryson SQL Database Recovery software. It not only repairsthe MDF file but also NDF file without any harm done to the original data. Other important features of SQL Database Recovery are as follows:
Did your computer fail to open a MDF file? We explain what they are used for and recommend software that we know can open or otherwise handle your .MDF files.
What is a MDF file?
Files given the .mdf extension contain a disc image of the information that has been saved on a CD or DVD. MDF files are similar to ISO files, but they are saved in a different format. In order for the DVD or CD data to be played back properly, the MDF file must be saved with an associated MDS file.
The actual file data on the disc that the MDF file was copied from is stored in the file with the .mdf extension while the file with the .mds extension stores the disc’s header and track information. These files allow you to play the media contained on a CD or DVD without having the actual disc in your computers CD or DVD drive.
How to open MDF files
You will need a program compatible with the specific file you are trying to open, as different programs may use files with file extension MDF for different purposes.
While we have not verified the apps ourselves yet, our users have suggested 10 different MDF openers which you will find listed below.
Suggest another file format using extension MDF
While we know of one file format using the .MDF file extension, there may be more. It is widespread that different programs use files with the same file extension for very different types of data. Please let us know if you are aware of a different kind of .MDF file.
Various viewers for this file format
These apps are known to open certain types of MDF files. Remember, different programs may use MDF files for different purposes, so you may need to try out a few of them to be able to open your specific file.
Just open or drag an MDF image to the AnyToISO main window and Press the Extract button. AnyToISO will convert to ISO or extract the image to your local drive. Info: MDF is a raw disc image used by Alcohol 120% and some other programs.
What program can open MDF file?
MDF files are called Media Disc Image Files developed by Alcohol software, and these files are categorized as disk image files. MDF files can be opened by these applications but the application called H+H Software Virtual CD can also open MDF files.
How do I mount MDF and MDS files?
Step 2: Right-click the MagicISO icon in the bottom right of the task bar (the icon of a hand holding a disc) and Click “Virtual CD/DVD-ROM.” Step 3: Choose one of the empty virtual drives and click “Mount.” Locate your .mdf or .mds file on your computer and double-click it to mount the disc.
What is a MDS file with ISO?
ISO file is an image file that contains full content of the disc, including every single track, directory, file and information about the structure of the disc. It must be mounted with a tool like daemon to view, but no conversion is necessary. MDS is a media data store file.
How do I burn an MDF file?
Mdf files cannot directly be burned by Nero. To do this you just change the extension .mdf to .iso. From the Nero menu go to the item burner or recorder and select the option burn image.
How do I restore an MDF file?
Restore a database on SQL Server using .mdf, .ldf and .ndf files?
- Expand the registered SQL server.
- Right-click Databases, select All Tasks -> Attach Database
- Click the “” button to browse for the .mdf file.
- Highlight the necessary .mdf file and click OK.
- Click OK again.
- The database will now show up in Enterprise Manager.
What is an MDF file SQL Server?
SQL Server databases use two files – an MDF file, known as the primary database file, which contains the schema and data, and a LDF file, which contains the logs. A database may also use secondary database file, which normally uses a .ndf extension.
How do I get MDF file from SQL database?
Here are the steps stating the procedure of exporting a database, Firstly, go to SQL Server Management Studio, right click on your database and select properties. Now select File menu, In File option, you need to get the Path of database saving location with files name saved as .MDF and .LDF files.
How do I open MDF files on a Mac?
MDF files are opened on a computer by mounting the file using a virtual drive. Since Alcohol 120% is not supported on Mac computers, you need to convert MDF files to ISO files and then mount the ISO file using the Disk Utility application. Press and hold the “Control” button on the keyboard and then click the MDF file.
How do you attach an LDF file to an MDF file?
- First Put the .mdf and .ldf file in C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.1\MSSQL\DATA\ folder.
- Then go to sql software , Right-click “Databases” and click the “Attach” option to open the Attach Databases dialog box.
How do I create an LDF file from an MDF file?
Attach MDF File Without LDF file by Using SSMS: You can attach your SQL MDF file without LOG file by following underlying steps.
- Open MS SQL Management Studio.
- In Object Explorer , Right Click on Databases and then Click on Attach from the drop down menu.
- In Attach Databases Windows, Click on Add button.
How do I recover a corrupted MDF file?
Steps to Repair Damaged SQL Database From MDF File
- After that, open the corrupt SQL database file (.mdf file) of your choice.
- Choose the Scan Mode and click OK.
- The tool will provide a preview of data items stored in corrupt the MDF file.
- Click on Export to save the recovered database.
How do I create an LDF file?
- Open SSMS and made a right click on databases.
- Select Attach option.
- Then click on add to attach MDF file.
- Select the file from the list and click on Ok.
- Now the screen shows MDF file and LDF File(Not found)
- Choose the LDF File and click on Remove option.
- After removing LDF File click on OK.
How do I add a database to SQL Server?
- Open Microsoft SQL Management Studio.
- Expand the Microsoft SQL Server node where you want to create the database.
- Right click the Databases node and then click New Database.
- Type the database name in the dialog box, for example, MailSecurityReports, and then click OK.
How do I open an MDS file?
Just double-click a .ISO or .IMG disc image, or right click on the file and select “Mount”, or click the “Disk Image Tools” tab on the ribbon to select “Mount” in order to open the disc image in Windows Explorer or File Explorer as if it’s inserted into a physical CD/DVD drive.
What is difference between MDF and LDF?
1.MDF is the primary data file for MSSQL. The LDF, on the other hand, is a supporting file and is characterized as a server transaction log file. 2.MDF contains all the vital and necessary information in databases while the LDF contains all the actions which include transactions and changes made in the MDF file.
What is the use of .mdf file in SQL Server?
When installed, Microsoft SQL Server stores default data file types in various directories on the respective computer. Master Database Files (MDF) and Log Database Files (LDF) are the primary files created for each database in the SQL Server environment.
How do I burn a power ISO file to DVD?
To Burn data disc with PowerISO, please follow the steps,
Mukesh Nailwal Published on
November 29, 2018 July 7, 2021 Last updated on
July 7, 2021
There are many cases when a user tends to view or open MDF file without SQL Server. In most of the organizations, professionals tend to share their SQL databases so that a wide range of MDF files can be easily managed by viewing MDF file. So, let’s have a brief introduction to MDF files.
MDF files are the primary database files of SQL database server and they are saved as .MDF extension. Being the primary database, MDF files store all the user database and other database objects like tables, keys, indices, views, functions, columns, triggers etc. Also, these files include all the startup info of the SQL Server database. In an MS SQL Server, each database contains one primary MDF file.
Table of Contents
Download Free DRS SQL Database Recovery software to repair and recover corrupt MDF and NDF SQL Database Files with ease.
It is a binary kind of file which can’t be opened normally. It is the main database file that can be attached to a running SQL Server to access the database using SQL transaction Statements. But, these MDF files are prone to corruption. Evan a smaller corruption in MDF files makes your entire database contents inaccessible. So, before proceeding, let’s explore the root causes of MDF file corruption.
Root Causes for MDF File corruption
There are some of the root causes for the MDF file corruption. Knowing this, you’ll be able to care for your MDF files in order to prevent them from being corrupted.
Hard Disk failure
As we know that Hard disk drives store all the primary database. So, corruption in it may result in a condition you will not be able to open or view MDF file without SQL server. Thus, overusing a hard disk from a long time may result in its corruption.
Sometimes, there is a sudden power failure. As a result of which, some important data may not be saved. It may lead to modification of some important data. Due to this, sometimes, some original data get damaged.
Virus or Malicious Attack
There is always a risk of virus attack to your precious data. You must aware of how badly a virus infection may affect your data. The risk of virus attack is always there. We all know how the virus affects our data. So, it is wise to prevent your data from virus infection using Anti-virus programs.
View or Open MDF file Without SQL Server
There are a large number of cases in which a user try to access the MDF file without SQL Server. Yet, there is not any manual technique to do this. One efficient way is to use a professional Free SQL Database Recovery. It is a perfect solution to open and view corrupted or inaccessible MDF Files without MS SQL Server. It is one of the most efficient and reliable software to open MDF file without SQL server. Now, let’s have a look at the working of this SQL viewer.
How to open and view MDF file with SQL Viewer
Steps to view or open MDF file without SQL server:
- Launch SQL Database software tool and select the MDF file to view the SQL database. Click OK to initiate the scanning.
- Once the scanning completes, all the database objects will appear in the form of tree structure. Now, hit a click on the left pane to view SQL Database objects.
- For saving these files, you need to click on the “Save SQL Data” option.
In the blog, it has been explained how important the MDF files are. Also, it has been told that to view or open MDF file without SQL server, you’ll need a free SQL viewer utility. It is an effective and reliable approach to access the database contents of the MDF file effortlessly. You can also use its upgraded version to repair MDF files which are corrupted due to ransomware attack.
Searching for ways to open MDF files? Then, here your search will be ended as in this article I will explain the way to open or access MDF files. So, sit comfortably and just start reading. Users will get to know all about the SQL Server and the different approaches for the concern. So let’s start the article by learning the term SQL Server.
Microsoft SQL Server is the relational database management system (RDMS) that stores data and recovers if it is necessary. Mainly, MDF and LDF files are two types of SQL server database. These files remain located in the SQL Server environment. The database also has NDF data files that are commonly known as non-primary or secondary data files. Out of these, MDF and NDF files both hold the important database information.
But the importance of the MDF file is a little higher in comparison to the NDF file. Thus, one can use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to open an MDF file. Now, many of you are wondering about the procedure so let’s know them.
Way to Open MDF file flawlessly using Handy Procedures
The MDF files are the log files in the SQL Server Database files thus, it is difficult to open them. Users can open the MDF file only by attaching them. Once the user attaches the MDF file, they will view its database in the object explorer of SQL Server Management Studio(SSMS). Users can perform these steps to open MDF for free. These are-
- First, start SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).
- After that, connect to the SQL Server Instance.
- Right-tap on the Databases and snap-on Attach in the Object Explorer.
- Users will see an Attach Databases window gets opened. Tap on the Add button.
- Visit the spot where the MDF file gets saved. Tap on it to choose the file and press OK.
- Finally, to attach the database tap on the OK button.
Now, users get to know the whole procedure to open MDF file in SQL Server using the above steps. Users can easily perform these steps if it doesn’t go well then it indicates the presence of corruption. One can fix this corruption by opting for an alternative tool.
Users can try SQL Database Recovery to repair corrupt MDF and NDF files of SQL Server database. The software is highly compatible and supportive of Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, 2003, XP, and 2000.
Different Means to Protect the Database:
One should be aware of the different techniques to protect their database. These steps will be helpful for the users to open MDF file online with ease. Some of them are written below-
- Once the user takes backup then it is necessary to frequently check these files. This will help the users to confirm the readability and availability of the backup file. Also, the Administrator has to store these Backup files in a safer place once the size of the backup files increases.
- Users should randomly take backups from time to time. This will help the user in keeping the data safe from software-related corruption, hardware related corruption, or accidental deletion. So, if the database gets corrupted, the user can opt for the backup file to restore the data.
- Several times to save the storage space, the Administrator shrinks the size of the database. Due to which the fragmentation of the database increases that later affects the performance.
- Sometimes, users generate inapplicable information while running a query to get the data. This generally happens due to data misplacement or corruption. That if the condition gets extreme conditions then the whole server may go down.
- Usually, a single SQL Server runs multiple databases to solve many user’s queries. If there is a large database containing multiple queries for processing then it will generate a deadlock situation. Thus, to avoid this situation administrators should inspect these situations and fix them quickly.
One can easily open MDF files by using the manual procedure. Sometimes due to some corrupt MDF file, it doesn’t go as well as it expected. Thus, it is necessary to repair these corrupt MDF files. One can repair these files by using the SQL Database Recovery tool. The tool is built with higher GUI and thus easy to conduct.
Let us suppose as if someone is trying to give their formulated SQL server database because they want you to manage their SQL Server Database and even troubleshoot errors if anything if available, moreover you can also gain required information from it. Thus they hand over to you the .MDF file and .LDF file and inform you that you require SQL server 2008 R2 in order to unlock them. Therefore for the sake gaining access, you install SQL Server 2008 R2 Express assuming it to free from your concern. When you open SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), and when you attempt to unlock the .MDF file.
The resolution is:
.MDF files are known to be SQL Server database files and .LDF files are the log files that are connected. But still you fail to “open” them. As an alternative you have to get “attached” to them. Once you put together, you will observe that the database in the object explorer of SSMS.
Some common MS SQL Database Error Messages:
If any your database is corrupted then there are chances that it follows up the given error messages:
- Corruption on data pages
- Metadata Corruption Error
- Msg 823 error in SQL Server
- Msg 824 in SQL Server
- Msg 825 (read retry) in SQL Server
- Error 9004 in SQL Server
- SQL Server Table Corruption Error
- SQL Server Page Level Corruption
- Table error: Object ID 0, index ID 0, and page ID (1:105). The PageId in the page header = (0:0)
- Internal error. Buffer provided to read column value is too small.
- Conflict occurred in database’db_name’, table ‘table_name’, column ‘column_name’
- Memory or buffer error, space provided to read column is too small.
Corruption Issues of the SQL Database Files
There are several issues, which lead to.MDF and .NDF file corruption. Below you have few common issues of database file corruption.
- Hardware malfunction is one of the common issues that cause corruption of database file.
- Sudden power failure in the middle of any work
- Replication of database can also lead to data loss; it can also happen when you create triggers on system tables.
- When you rename the primary file group, it will not change but it can corrupt your database.
- File header corruption
- Storage media corruption where MDF files are stored
- Storing SQL database in compressed folders
- Accidental data deletion
- Changes in SQL Server account
The above given issues are responsible for the corruption of MS SQL database.
MS SQL Database Repair Software
MS SQL Database Repair Tool is the simple and efficient tool that can easily repair corrupt database file. It can completely recover your .MDF files including functions, tables, views, store procedures, triggers, constraints, indexes, keys, rules, defaults and many more. It uses an advanced algorithm to recover the files without damaging its original content. This program meets all the requirements of users. It is developed in such a way that user can easily install and repair their SQL (.MDF) Files with an ease. It is effective and very simple to use.
This tool is capable of repairing all sort of corrupted files including sudden power failure, over sized issue, hardware and software defect, and human errors. Simply, download this tool to enjoy its amazing features.
Features of SQL Database (MDF) Repair Software
- It can repair corrupt .mdf database files, views, tables, stored procedures, defaults, rules, user defined data types and triggers from MS SQL server database.
- It can repair and restore SQL Server database files (*.mdf or *.ndf).
- It can recover objects in MDF and NDF database files
- It can even recover triggers, indexes, tables, keys constraints, rules and defaults.
- It can effectively recover large SQL Server database.
- Restores SQL Server ROW-compressed and PAGE-compressed data
- It shows preview of recoverable objects before recovery
- Allows Selective Recovery
- Support Microsoft SQL Server 2014, 2012, 2008 and all previous versions.
- Supports different Windows operating system versions: Windows 10, 8/8.1, 7, Vista etc
STEPS TO FIX How can I open an .MDF file in SQL Server?
Simple Tips to Prevent SQL Database corruption
To make sure your database stays healthy you hove few “‘must do” task.