SQL Clone
SQLServerCentral is supported by Redgate
Log in  ::  Register  ::  Not logged in

Does the SQL Server Database Filename Matter?

Do you know the basics of how to create a database? Hopefully you do and can do so without the GUI. However do you know the extensions are for database files? As of SQL Server 2012, these are the extensions:

  • Main data file – .mdf
  • Secondary data files – .ndf
  • Transaction Log files – .ldf
  • Full backup files – .bak
  • Differential backup files – .dif
  • Transaction Log backup files – .trn

However these are merely suggestions, and dictated by convention. In fact, in the Files and Filegroup Architecture page, BOL says that the “recommended” extensions are those I’ve listed for different types of files. For backups, these aren’t documented since you can actually include different types of backups in the same file (Don’t do this).

Here’s a quick test:

( NAME = N'NameTest1'
, FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\nametest.mdf' 
, SIZE = 2 )
( NAME = N'NameTest1_log'
, FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\nametest_log.mdf' 
, SIZE = 1 )

If you notice, I’ve created a database with one data file and one log file, both using the extentions “.mdf”. This works fine and the database is usable.

I can do the same thing with ldf.

( NAME = N'NameTest2'
, FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\nametest2.ldf' 
, SIZE = 2 )
( NAME = N'NameTest2_Data2'
, FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\nametest2_data.ldf' 
, SIZE = 2 )
( NAME = N'NameTest2_log'
, FILENAME = N'C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\nametest2_log.ldf' 
, SIZE = 1 )

In this example I even added a secondary data file. If I check the physical file locations, I see the files I created.


Note that Explorer sees these as the type of file based on the extension it has associated with that filename, but that doesn’t affect how SQL Server uses the files. If I look in the properties for the database, I see the files listed as expected.


These don’t affect the operation of SQL Server or the database at all, however they can be confusing for DBAs. I recommend that you stick with the customary extensions for SQL Server files.

Filed under: Blog Tagged: administration, sql server, syndicated

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Leave a comment on the original post [voiceofthedba.wordpress.com, opens in a new window]

Loading comments...