Have you made the mistake of dropping your distribution database like this?
If so, remember not to do this ever again. Disabling publishing and distribution involves more than just dropping the distribution database. The distribution database in SQL Server requires special attention and dropping it in this fashion can wreak havoc on your distribution server. Doing so will cause existing publications to error on synchronization and further attempts to disable publishing and distribution will fail. This really puts a DBA between a rock and a hard place. Setting the distribution database offline and dropping it like this is a great example of how to hose your distributor.
Whatever you do, don’t panic. Dropping the distribution database this way isn’t good but we still have the distribution data and log files files located in the folder we specified when configuring distribution. The reason these files are still around is because when a database is offline and is dropped, the disk files are not deleted. Knowing this, all we need to do is attach the distribution data and log files to recreate the distribution database. This can be done via SSMS or with the following bit of T-SQL.
If you encounter access denied errors when attaching the distribution data and log files, grant appropriate permissions to the distribution.mdf and distribution.ldf files on the Security tab in the file properties dialog. This will circumvent the access denied errors.
After attaching the distribution data and log files, the distribution database should now be in a workable state. Existing publications should resume as normal and if you choose to do so, publishing and distribution can now be disabled correctly.
To avoid this problem altogether… use replication stored procedures, RMO (Replication Management Objects), or the Disable Publishing and Distribution Wizard to disable publishing and distribution. We can learn from the MSDN Library How to: Disable Publishing and Distribution (Replication Transact-SQL Programming) that this can be done with T-SQL which is nice.
I encourage you to become familiar with these procedures and know what they do. Using the Wizard is convenient but it’s important to realize what happens when publishing and distribution is disabled. Not only does the distribution database need to be dropped, but replication objects need to be removed as well. Publishers have to be dropped from the Distribution server and the Distribution server needs to be uninstalled.
To disable publishing and distribution using the Wizard, right-click the Replication node in Object Explorer and click ‘Disable Publishing and Distribution…’
I hope this sheds some light on how to disable publishing and distribution in SQL Server. It’s wise to do this through the use of replication stored procedures, RMO, or the Disable Publishing and Distribution Wizard. I’ve came across a couple of threads in the SQL Server Replication Forum with people getting stuck after accidentally dropping the distribution database. If you find yourself in this situation don’t do anything drastic. Re-installing SQL Server is not the answer. Just remain calm, attach the distribution data and log files, and all will be fine.