Share via

Back Up a Transaction Log (SQL Server)

This topic describes how to back up a transaction log in SQL Server 2012 by using SQL Server Management Studio, Transact-SQL, or PowerShell.

In This Topic

  • Before you begin:

    Limitations and Restrictions



  • To back up a transaction log, using:

    SQL Server Management Studio




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

  • Related Tasks

Before You Begin

Limitations and Restrictions

  • The BACKUP statement is not allowed in an explicit or implicit transaction.


  • If a database uses either the full or bulk-logged recovery model, you must back up the transaction log regularly enough to protect your data and to keep the transaction log from filling. This truncates the log and supports restoring the database to a specific point in time.

  • By default, every successful backup operation adds an entry in the SQL Server error log and in the system event log. If back up the log very frequently, these success messages accumulate quickly, resulting in huge error logs that can make finding other messages difficult. In such cases you can suppress these log entries by using trace flag 3226 if none of your scripts depend on those entries. For more information, see Trace Flags (Transact-SQL).



BACKUP DATABASE and BACKUP LOG permissions default to members of the sysadmin fixed server role and the db_owner and db_backupoperator fixed database roles.

Ownership and permission problems on the backup device's physical file can interfere with a backup operation. SQL Server must be able to read and write to the device; the account under which the SQL Server service runs must have write permissions. However, sp_addumpdevice, which adds an entry for a backup device in the system tables, does not check file access permissions. Such problems on the backup device's physical file may not appear until the physical resource is accessed when the backup or restore is attempted.

Arrow icon used with Back to Top link[Top]

Using SQL Server Management Studio

To back up a transaction log

  1. After connecting to the appropriate instance of the 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.

  5. Verify that the recovery model is either FULL or BULK_LOGGED.

  6. In the Backup type list box, select Transaction Log.

  7. Optionally, you can select Copy Only Backup to create a copy-only backup. A copy-only backup is a SQL Server backup that is independent of the sequence of conventional SQL Server backups. For more information, see Copy-Only Backups (SQL Server).


    When the Differential option is selected, you cannot create a copy-only backup.

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

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

  10. 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 dialog box, 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.

  11. Choose the type of backup destination by clicking Disk or Tape. To select the paths 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.

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

  13. 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. For more information, see Media Sets, Media Families, and Backup Sets (SQL Server).

      Optionally, select Check media set name and backup set expiration to cause the backup operation to verify the date and time at which the media set and backup set expire.

      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 whether 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. For more information, see Media Sets, Media Families, and Backup Sets (SQL Server).

  14. In the Reliability section, optionally, check:

  15. In the Transaction log section:

    • For routine log backups, keep the default selection, Truncate the transaction log by removing inactive entries.

    • To back up the tail of the log (that is, the active log), check Back up the tail of the log, and leave database in the restoring state.

      A tail-log backup is taken after a failure to back up the tail of the log in order to prevent work loss. Back up the active log (a tail-log backup) both after a failure, before beginning to restore the database, or when failing over to a secondary database. Selecting this option is equivalent to specifying the NORECOVERY option in the BACKUP LOG statement of Transact-SQL. For more information about tail-log backups, see Tail-Log Backups (SQL Server).

  16. 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.

  17. SQL Server 2008 Enterprise and later supports backup compression. By default, whether a backup is compressed depends on the value of the backup-compression default server configuration option. However, regardless of the current server-level default, you can compress a backup by checking Compress backup, and you can prevent compression by checking Do not compress backup.

    To view the current backup compression default

Arrow icon used with Back to Top link[Top]

Using Transact-SQL

To back up a transaction log

  • Execute the BACKUP LOG statement to back up the transaction log, specifying the following:

    • The name of the database to which the transaction log that you want to back up belongs.

    • The backup device where the transaction log backup is written.

Example (Transact-SQL)


This example uses the AdventureWorks2012 database, which uses the simple recovery model. To permit log backups, before taking a full database backup, the database was set to use the full recovery model. For more information, see View or Change the Recovery Model of a Database (SQL Server).

This example creates a transaction log backup for the AdventureWorks2012 database to the previously created named backup device, MyAdvWorks_FullRM_log1.

BACKUP LOG AdventureWorks2012
   TO MyAdvWorks_FullRM_log1;

Arrow icon used with Back to Top link[Top]

Using PowerShell

  1. Use the Backup-SqlDatabase cmdlet and specify Log for the value of the -BackupAction parameter.

    The following example creates a log backup of the MyDB database to the default backup location of the server instance Computer\Instance.

    --Enter this command at the PowerShell command prompt, C:\PS>
    Backup-SqlDatabase -ServerInstance Computer\Instance -Database MyDB -BackupAction Log

To set up and use the SQL Server PowerShell provider

Arrow icon used with Back to Top link[Top]

Arrow icon used with Back to Top link[Top]

See Also


BACKUP (Transact-SQL)


Apply Transaction Log Backups (SQL Server)

Maintenance Plans

Full File Backups (SQL Server)