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Restoring a Database in Standby Mode

David Alcock points out a useful database restoration mode:

Here’s a scenario. A user has made several modifications to a database and now needs to restore the database back to a particular point. The problem is that they don’t know the particular time to restore back to, just that they need the database back to before a particular change was made.

If the database is in simple recovery then there’s no options to play with, the database can only go back to the last full and maybe differential backup if they’ve been taken. If the database is using full recovery (I’m skipping over BULK-LOGGED for this post) then we can then apply the transaction log backups taken after the full backup to get back to a point in time by restoring the database with NORECOVERY and then restoring the necessary log backup files until we reach a particular point.

But one of the disadvantages of NORECOVERY is that it doesn’t give us a readable database until we restore with RECOVERY and at that point we can’t restore further log backups to our database so if we have missed anything we’d need to start the whole restore process from the beginning.

Read on for an alternative restore mode which fits the bill.