Upgrading Backups

Steve Jones explains that you can restore most backups to a later version, but can never restore to an earlier major version:

I would hope that most people know that a SQL Server database backup has a version. This version corresponds to a version of SQL Server, and for the most part, we can’t restore a database backup to an earlier version of SQL Server. Some exceptions might be a similar CU version there the database format hasn’t changed, but certainly not to any prior Service Pack.

However, can you restore to a later version? Can I take a SQL Server 2012 database backup and restore it to a SQL Server 2016 instance? Sure I can. In fact, lots of people upgrade their systems this way. Install a new SQL Server instance, take a backup on the old version and bring it forward. In fact, you can restore (or attach) a SQL Server 2005 database backup on SQL Server 2016.

Read on for more details and caveats.

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