How to: Create a Differential Database Backup (SQL Server Management Studio)

This topic explains how to create a differential database backup.


Creating a differential database backup requires that a previous full database backup exist. If the selected database has never been backed up, run a full database backup before creating any differential backups. For more information, see How to: Back Up a Database (SQL Server Management Studio).

To create a differential database backup

  1. After connecting to the appropriate instance of the Microsoft SQL Server Database Engine, in Object Explorer, click the server name to expand the server tree.

  2. Expand Databases, and depending on the database, either select a user database or expand System Databases and select a system database.

  3. Right-click the database, point to Tasks, and then click Back Up. The Back Up Database dialog box appears.

  4. In the Database list box, verify the database name. You can optionally select a different database from the list.

    You can perform a differential backup for any recovery model (full, bulk-logged, or simple).

  5. In the Backup type list box, select Differential.

  6. For Backup component, click Database.

  7. Either accept the default backup set name suggested in the Name text box, or enter a different name for the backup set.

  8. Optionally, in the Description text box, enter a description of the backup set.

  9. Specify when the backup set will expire:

    • To have the backup set expire after a specific number of days, click After (the default option), and enter the number of days after set creation that the set will expire. This value can be from 0 to 99999 days; a value of 0 days means that the backup set will never expire.
      The default value is set in the Default backup media retention (in days) option of the Server Properties dialog box (Database Settings page). To access this, right-click the server name in Object Explorer and select properties; then select the Database Settings page.
    • To have the backup set expire on a specific date, click On, and enter the date on which the set will expire.
  10. Choose the type of backup destination by clicking Disk or Tape. To select the path of up to 64 disk or tape drives containing a single media set, click Add. The selected paths are displayed in the Backup to list box.

    To remove a backup destination, select it and click Remove. To view the contents of a backup destination, select it and click Contents.

  11. To view or select the advanced options, click Options in the Select a page pane.

  12. Select an Overwrite Media option, by clicking one of the following:

    • Back up to the existing media set
      For this option, click either Append to the existing backup set or Overwrite all existing backup sets. Optionally, check the Check media set name and backup set expiration check box and, optionally, enter a name in the Media set name text box. If no name is specified, a media set with a blank name is created. If you specify a media set name, the media (tape or disk) is checked to see if the actual name matches the name you enter here.
      If you leave the media name blank and check the box to check it against the media, success will equal the media name on the media also being blank.
    • Back up to a new media set, and erase all existing backup sets
      For this option, enter a name in the New media set name text box, and, optionally, describe the media set in the New media set description text box.
  13. In the Reliability section, optionally, check:

    • Verify backup when finished.
    • Perform checksum before writing to media, and, optionally, Continue on checksum error. For information about checksums, see Detecting and Coping with Media Errors.
  14. If you are backing up to a tape drive (as specified in the Destination section of the General page), the Unload the tape after backup option is active. Clicking this option activates the Rewind the tape before unloading option.


    The options in the Transaction log section are inactive unless you are backing up a transaction log (as specified in the Backup type section of the General page).


    Alternatively, you can use the Maintenance Plan Wizard to create differential database backups.

See Also


How to: Back Up a Database (SQL Server Management Studio)
How to: Back Up Database Files and Filegroups (SQL Server Management Studio)
How to: Restore a Differential Database Backup (SQL Server Management Studio)
How to: Restore a Transaction Log Backup (SQL Server Management Studio)
How to: Start the Maintenance Plan Wizard (SQL Server Management Studio)


Maintenance Plan Wizard
Differential Database Backups

Other Resources

SQL Server Management Studio Tutorial

Help and Information

Getting SQL Server 2005 Assistance