Start SQL Server with Minimal Configuration

Applies to: SQL Server

If you have configuration problems that prevent the server from starting, you can start an instance of Microsoft SQL Server by using the minimal configuration startup option. This is the startup option -f. Starting an instance of SQL Server with minimal configuration automatically puts the server in single-user mode.

When you start an instance of SQL Server in minimal configuration mode, note the following:

  • Only a single user can connect, and the CHECKPOINT process is not executed.

  • Remote access and read-ahead are disabled.

  • Startup stored procedures do not run.

  • tempdb is configured at the smallest possible size.

  • Audit will be disabled but Audit DDL can still be issued. In practice, -m should be sufficient for most cases that require SQL Serve Audit reconfiguration. For more details about security in Auditing configuration, see Auditing in SQL Server.

After the server has been started with minimal configuration, you should change the appropriate server option value or values, stop, and then restart the server.


Use the sqlcmd utility and the dedicated administrator connection (DAC) to connect to SQL Server. If you use a typical connection, stop the SQL Server Agent service before connecting to an instance of SQL Server in minimal configuration mode. Otherwise, the SQL Server Agent service uses the connection, thereby blocking it.

See Also

Start, Stop, or Pause the SQL Server Agent Service
Diagnostic Connection for Database Administrators
sqlcmd Utility
Server Configuration Options (SQL Server)
sp_configure (Transact-SQL)
Database Engine Service Startup Options