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Verifying backup files on a budget

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Introduction
Recovery models
Main backup types
Backing up the database files by copying
The transaction log
Transaction log restore sequence
Log sequence numbers
Truncating and shrinking the transaction log
Backing up the tail
Inside the transaction log
So, what's in a backup file?
Test: A full backup does not contain deleted data
Verifying backup files
Verifying backup files on a budget
Cumulative backups
Recovering individual tables
Backup and restore history details
Backup reads and writes
Speeding up backups
Backup speed details
Speeding up restores
Restore state affects speed too
Backup and restore rights
Log shipping
Log shipping in SQL Server 2000
Setting up log shipping using Enterprise Manager
Checking the set up
Failover
Log shipping in SQL Server 2005
Setting up log shipping using Management Studio
Checking the set up
Log shipping status report
Failover
Log shipping in SQL Backup
Using the CopyTool utility
Failover
3rd party backup applications
VDI
VDI versions
VDI errors
SQL Backup - beyond compression
Restoring a chain of transaction log backups
Restoring to the latest possible state
Backing up multiple databases
Backup retention
Making a copy of the backup file
Backup file naming conventions
Restoring the latest backup set
Network resilience
Encryption
Integrated database verification
Database file relocation
Improved backup retention
RESTORE HELP
High-availability group support
Common SQL Backup issues
Installation checklist
Setting up rights
Configuring service rights
Backup data
Hanging issues
Common backup and restore errors
Error 3201 - when performing a backup to a network share
Full database backup file is larger than database size
Error 3205 - Too many backup devices specified for backup or restore
Error 4305 - an earlier transaction log backup is required
Bringing a database that is in recovery or read-only mode online
Using bulk-logged recovery model but transaction log backup is still large
Error 14274 - unable to delete SQL Server Agent job
Error messages when restoring from different versions of SQL Server.
Pending
vdi error codes
Restore speed details
Help, my transaction log file is huge!
Mirror or log ship



Say you've decided to run RESTORE VERIFYONLY on all SQL Server 2005/2008 backup files that you copy to a file server, even though RESTORE VERIFYONLY isn't 100% reliable.  However, the departmental budget did not provide for the purchase and maintenance costs of another SQL Server 2005/2008 license.  What now?

Well, enter SQL Server 2005/2008 Express Editions (Express).  That's the free edition of SQL Server 2005, that's usually associated with under-4 GB databases.  A little known fact is that the Express Edition is able to work with files larger than 4 GB when running the RESTORE VERIFYONLY command.  That's right, you can install Express on your file server where all your backup files are stored, and happily verify all your backup files to ensure that they are valid.  Did I mention that Express is free?

Obviously, you'll need to write some code to trigger the verification, logging and notification of errors etc (ok, it's not entirely free in that sense).  That's when we use SQL Verify.

At the time of writing, you can download SQL Server 2005 Express from this link, and SQL Server 2008 R2 Express from this link.

Document history
1/26/2011    Added SQL Server 2008 link.    
1/26/2011    Updated SQL Server 2005 link.    
6/27/2008    Initial release.    
 
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