Mon. Dec 11th, 2023
open mdf file

Are you trying to open MDF file in SQL Server & facing difficulties? Well, indeed this is one really big issue for users that are not proficient in SQL Server technicalities. Moreover, users are also confused about the method to open MDF files. As a few users have SSMS & others don’t even use SQL anymore. They just have the MDF file in their system, that’s all.

Table of Content

  1. What are MDF Files?
  2. SSMS Method
  3. Automated Method
  4. Features of Automated Method
  5. Conclusion

Now, we are going to mention both the solutions including SQL Server Management Studio & the ideal automated method. This way, all the users can open & read their files without any issues. Moreover, the advantages & drawbacks of these methods are also there to help users make wise decisions.

Reading this article till the end can help users to open MDF file in SQL Server management studio & without it. However, first, we need to learn more about the MDF file itself. So, let’s begin.

What Are MDF Files? What Other Files SQL Have?

SQL Server database is one of the most popular & widely used RDBMS. Many organizations use SQL as it’s primary database management system. When we dive into SQL, we can find there is not juts one but several file formats available.

These different file formats are present because of their different role in the database. These file formats are:

.MDF – The Master Database File is what stores all the information & structure.

.NDF – The NDF is the Secondary Data File & it’s not necessary in the DB.

.LDF – SQL Log Data File is for maintaining logs & record transactions.

.BAK – SQL Backup File for restoring database if required by users.

.SQL – SQL Transcript File for running a query directly using a file.

Now, that we know the role of these files in SQL databases, we know that MDF is most important. Therefore, opening & reading this becomes crucial for users. Now, we are going to begin with the SSMS method followed by the ideal automated solution.

Open .mdf File Using SQL Server Management Studio

There are many reasons why most users avoid this SSMS method & opt for other solutions. However, as users requested this method, here it is. There is one thing to note SSMS is for managing the database & not for just viewing the data. This results in a long procedure as this tool is quite complex & meant for other tasks.

Step 1. Install SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to begin the operation.

MDF viewer

Step 2. Launch the SSMS utility in your system to start executing all the steps.

Step 3. Enter SQL Server Credentials and then establish a connection.

Step 4. Now, Go to Object Explorer to Select the Attach option there.

Step 5. Browse MDF File Location & then Add the MDF File there.

Step 6. Open MDF file in SQL Server & now view the data easily.


  • Users must install the SSMS in the system.
  • An active license of SQL Server is required here.
  • The complex process makes this task longer than usual.
  • Users do not get advanced features here for other benefits.
  • Many new users can not execute these steps & can get stuck.
  • There is a high risk of data loss if not performed the steps properly.

There are plenty of these reasons as well but obviously, we can’t include them all here.

Automated Tool to Open MDF File in SQL Server with Ease

Now, that we have covered the automated solution, it’s time for us to go through the automated method. This is the exact same technique & tool that most IT experts, global users, & even Microsoft’s MVPs use. There are plenty of reasons for the same that we will discuss later.

Download SysTools or Freeviewer MDF File Opener & follow the below steps. The steps for both tools are exactly the same.

Step-1. Launch the Tool after a quick & successful installation.

Step-2. Select the Quick or Advance Scan mode as required.

Step-3. View your MDF Files easily with all data objects easily.

Step-4. Users can even Create A Report as well for the same.

That’s it. Isn’t it easy? Just four quick steps to open & view the SQL Server Database Files without any errors. Now, there are several advantages that users need to be aware of. Let’s go through them.

Astonishing Features of the Automated Software

We said the automated solution is full of advanced features. Evidently, it provides users with some out-of-the-box benefits. Let’s explore these benefits to understand the potential of this tool & analyze if is it really worth buying. There is no need for users to open .mdf file using SQL Server management studio if this tool is with them.

  • Allow users to read tables, triggers, stored procedures, rules, views, etc. objects.
  • The software’s GUI is very smart & users don’t need to be technically advanced.
  • Two scan modes to scan corrupted files. Advanced scan and Quick scan mode.
  • The software is smart enough to auto-detect the SQL Server version using files.
  • Not just the MDF file but the software can also let users view NDF files as well.
  • Also, allows users to preview the deleted SQL Server database files with ease.
  • No requirement for an SQL Server database or an active license for the same.
  • There is no size limitation of the NDF or NDF data file for users to view in tool.
  • It is a very efficient solution as it saves plenty of time that’s crucial for users.

There are a few more advantages present in this software. However, these are enough for users to make their decisions.

The agenda of this section is to find out whether this solution is worth purchasing or not. So, putting it simply, based on the features, it’s easily worth it. However, when it comes to the price, it’s under $30 which is really cheap. Whereas, if users opt for SSMS, they need an SQL license which can cost way more. That’s why IT experts trust this utility.

The Final Say

Finally, after learning both the solutions to open MDF file in SQL Server, we are going to conclude this article. Users are wise enough to select the right tool & technique after reading their drawbacks & advantages.

Make sure to be technically proficient if opting for the SQL Server Management Studio method. Otherwise, the automated solution does not require SQL proficiency.

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