Help: SQL Server

Sharing my knowlege about SQL Server Troubleshooting Skills

Restore ERROR : This backup cannot be restored using WITH STANDBY because a database upgrade is needed

Posted by blakhani on May 21, 2015

One of my colleague in office sent an email to find the cause of the error. He wanted to configure Log-Shipping with secondary on Standby mode. Rather than “reply to all”, I generally ping the person directly to tell the possible reason of error. Here is what we discussed (let’s assume that his name is Manoj – M)

B: Hi Manoj
M: Hello
B: Saw you email to DL about log shipping problem.
M: Oh yeah. Thanks for reaching out.
B: No problem.
B: Are you restoring database from lower version to higher version of SQL?
M: No, both are 2008.
B: That’s doesn’t sound right. Can you please run Select @@version command in Management Studio on both the server and share the output?
M: Sure. Give me a minute to connect and run the query.
B: Sure

<1 min pause>

M: There you go

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 (SP1) – 10.0.2573.0 (X64)
Feb 4 2011 11:27:06
Copyright (c) 1988-2008 Microsoft Corporation
Developer Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7601: Service Pack 1)

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 (RTM) – 10.50.1600.1 (X64)
Apr 2 2010 15:48:46
Copyright (c) Microsoft Corporation
Enterprise Edition (64-bit) on Windows NT 6.0 (Build 6002: Service Pack 2)


B: Okay. that is the problem. You are taking backup from SQL 2008 and restoring on SQL 2008 R2 in standby mode.
M: Both are not 2008?
B: No, destination is 2008 “R2” which is the next release after 2008.
M: Oh.. I thought its like a service pack on top of SQL 2008.
B: Unfortunately, its not a service pack. It’s fresh release having some enhancements.
M: Okay. So error message is correct.
B: Yeah. If you want to use secondary for reporting then you have to use standby mode. This can only be done on destination which has same version of SQL. Or you need to upgrade current primary server.
M: Hmm.. I got it now. Let me check with my DBA team and management to decide the next action.
B: Sure Manoj. Is there any other clarification you might need?
M: No Balmukund. I am good at this point. You have been very helpful. Appreciate it.
B: My pleasure. Bye for now.
M: Bye!

In summary, Here is what you would get in SSMS if we try to restore a backup from lower version of SQL to higher version of SQL in standby mode.

TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
SQL Server Management Studio restore database ‘DabbaWala’
Restore failed for Server ‘Destination’.  (SqlManagerUI)

For help, click:
System.Data.SqlClient.SqlError: This backup cannot be restored using WITH STANDBY because a database upgrade is needed. Reissue the RESTORE without WITH STANDBY. (Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo)
For help, click:


The error is raised because during restore from lower to higher version the database version needs an upgrade to match with system table (or any other) change in higher version. Here is the query to see the version I am talking about.

Select name, version from sys.sysdatabases

This version upgrade is part of recovery process and we can’t pause recovery in middle and view the database state (that’s what is done in standby mode). So, the only way to restore that would be to use “with recovery” or “with norecovery” option.

Hope this helps!

  • Cheers,
  • Balmukund Lakhani
  • Twitter @blakhani
  • Author: SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOnPaperback, Kindle
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    2 Responses to “Restore ERROR : This backup cannot be restored using WITH STANDBY because a database upgrade is needed”

    1. sqlproddba said

      Excellent post!!

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