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Help : I lost sa password and no one has System Administrator (SysAdmin) permission. What should I do?

Posted by blakhani on February 8, 2012


If you are thinking that I am going to show you black magic to recover sa password or other login’s password then you have hit the wrong blog post. go back to search engine and search for better tool/utility. Smile

After spending many years with SQL Server product, I have seen situations where someone wants to get in to SQL Server as system administrator as someone recently left company who had System Administrator permission (or hundred other reasons). Till SQL 2000 days, it was impossible to solve such problem other than reinstalling SQL Server. Here are the typical questions I saw in forum:

  • Only sysadmin user is SA and I Lost SA password.
  • I am locked out of SQL server i.e. that no windows users are added (or removed them) as sysadmin and I forgot the password for sa
  • I am windows admin. How can I get sys admin privileges on SQL server express as I removed all sysadmin accounts from SQL.

Here are the various error you might see

  • Unable to create new database. This is generic error which means that you are not having permission.

SysAdminLost_1

TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
——————————
Create failed for Database ‘SQLServer-Help’.  (Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo)

For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&ProdVer=10.50.1617.0+((KJ_RTM_GDR).110422-1901+)&EvtSrc=Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.ExceptionTemplates.FailedOperationExceptionText&EvtID=Create+Database&LinkId=20476
——————————
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
An exception occurred while executing a Transact-SQL statement or batch. (Microsoft.SqlServer.ConnectionInfo)
——————————
CREATE DATABASE permission denied in database ‘master’. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 262)
For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&ProdVer=10.50.1617&EvtSrc=MSSQLServer&EvtID=262&LinkId=20476
——————————
BUTTONS:
OK
——————————

  • When you login to Management Studio, you would see only your own account and ‘sa’ as shown below

SysAdminLost_2

  • When you attempt to change password of ‘sa’ you might see below error.

SysAdminLost_3

TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
——————————
Change password failed for Login ‘sa’.  (Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo)
For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&ProdVer=10.50.1617.0+((KJ_RTM_GDR).110422-1901+)&EvtSrc=Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.ExceptionTemplates.FailedOperationExceptionText&EvtID=Change+password+Login&LinkId=20476
——————————
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
An exception occurred while executing a Transact-SQL statement or batch. (Microsoft.SqlServer.ConnectionInfo)
——————————
Cannot alter the login ‘sa’, because it does not exist or you do not have permission. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 15151)
For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&ProdVer=10.50.1617&EvtSrc=MSSQLServer&EvtID=15151&LinkId=20476
——————————
BUTTONS:
OK
——————————

 

All error messages appear because your account is not a System Administrator of SQL Server Instance.

So, what should you do now? Answer is simple, get yourself added as System Administrator. I know, you would say “don’t you think I have tried that as I got this error!”

SysAdminLost_4

TITLE: Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
——————————
Add member failed for ServerRole ‘sysadmin’.  (Microsoft.SqlServer.Smo)
For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&ProdVer=10.50.1617.0+((KJ_RTM_GDR).110422-1901+)&EvtSrc=Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.ExceptionTemplates.FailedOperationExceptionText&EvtID=Add+member+ServerRole&LinkId=20476
——————————
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
An exception occurred while executing a Transact-SQL statement or batch. (Microsoft.SqlServer.ConnectionInfo)
——————————
User does not have permission to perform this action. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 15247)
For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&ProdVer=10.50.1617&EvtSrc=MSSQLServer&EvtID=15247&LinkId=20476
——————————
BUTTONS:
OK
——————————

 

Okay, here is the step by step guide to add any account as System Administrator of SQL Server. This is documented and completely supported way to gain back the rights.  To log into SQL Server as SysAdmin, you need to have Local Administrator permission on the windows which is hosting SQL Server. If you don’t have that also then you may want to check with your windows team to get access (I am not a windows guy)

Steps to login to SQL Server as System Administrator. [Provided you are having windows local administrator permissions]

  • Stop the SQL Server Service using ANY of below command.
    • Net Stop MSSQLServer (for default instance) / Net Step MSSQL$<InstanceName> If you want to know instance name, refer my earlier blog
    • Use SQL Server Configuration manager and stop the SQL service. [Start>Programs>Microsoft SQL Server 2005>Configuration Tools>SQL Server Configuration Manager]
    • Use Services console [ Start > Run > Services.msc] and locate the SQL instance you want to stop.
  • Start SQL Server in Single User mode. You need to use start-up parameter m to start SQL Service in single user mode. I prefer command line but its your choice.
    • Using command line
      • net start MSSQLServer /m SQLCMD        [For default instance]
      • net start MSSQL$<InstanceName> /m SQLCMD     [For named instance]
    • Using configuration Manager
      • Locate the service which you have stopped earlier. Go to its properties, “Advanced”, click on drop down at “Startup Parameters”  and add ;-mSQLCMD as shown below

SysAdminLost_5

You might notice that I have use SQLCMD after m. That’s not a typo. Many times, when you start SQL Server in single user mode, application grabs connection before you could. SQLCMD ensures that only SQLCMD program can connect to SQL Server when its running in single use mode. Here is the error you might see if above happens. SQLCMD should be in UPPERCASE. else that would also show same error. Please make sure there is no space between “;” and “-m”, the registry parameter parser is sensitive to such typos. You should see an entry in the SQL Server ERRORLOG file that says “SQL Server started in single-user mode.”

TITLE: Connect to Server
——————————
Cannot connect to (local)\SQL2k8R2.
——————————
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Login failed for user ‘Contoso\demouser’. Reason: Server is in single user mode. Only one administrator can connect at this time. (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 18461)
For help, click: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink?ProdName=Microsoft+SQL+Server&EvtSrc=MSSQLServer&EvtID=18461&LinkId=20476
——————————
BUTTONS:
OK
——————————

  • Connect to SQL Server and add desired account in SysAdmin role.
    I normally prefer to do it from SQLCMD (that’s why I added SQLCMD after m)
    • Open administrator command prompt. (i.e. right click on command prompt shortcut and choose “Run As Administrator”
    • Type sqlcmd –S <complete instance name> For example
      • sqlcmd –S. (for default instance)
      • sqlcmd –S.\MyInstance
        For getting exact name, your my earlier blog
    • You are connected as System Administrator, because you are part of local administrator group in windows.
    • At this point you can add any account to sysadmin because you are connect as sysadmin. Here is the script I normally use to add local administrator group as a part of SysAdmin group in SQL Server Instance. You may want to tweak this as per your needs because I am adding all local admin as sysadmin which is not a good practise.

USE [master]
GO
CREATE LOGIN
[BUILTIN\Administrators] FROM WINDOWS WITH DEFAULT_DATABASE=[master]
GO
EXEC master
..sp_addsrvrolemember @loginame = N’BUILTIN\Administrators’, @rolename = N’sysadmin’
GO

  • Here is how it would look on sqlcmd command prompt

SysAdminLost_6

  • Stop SQL Server Service. You can use any method as described in first step
  • Start SQL Service normally. This means that you need to remove startup parameter

Here is the MSDN reference for above, just to show that its documented.

So, to conclude, I have not shown any trick to recover any password. Just showed you detailed steps to gain sysadmin access provided you have windows admin rights.

DISCLAIMER: Use the method that is described in this article only as a failure recovery mechanism

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Posted in Configuration Manager, ERRORLOG, forgot sa password, Forgot the SA password in Sql Server 2005, sa password lost, screen shot, Screenshot, Security, SQL Server, Step by Step | 38 Comments »

Help : Where is SQL Server ErrorLog?

Posted by blakhani on June 26, 2011


While helping unknown faces via MSDN SQL Server Forum, I have asked many times to share the “SQL Server ErrorLog”. Most of the time, I need to explain where the ErrorLog(s) are located. so this post is to help those who are new to SQL Server. Well, if you ever call Microsoft SQL Support for any problem with SQL, they (including me) would ask SQL ErrorLog.

You may ask “What is ErrorLog file?”
SQL Server maintains its own error logs that contain messages describing informational and error events. I personally don’t like name of the file “ErrorLog” as this file does not contains only errors, it also contains information messages. This is the reason we have added additional text in information message called “This is an informational message only. No user action is required”.

  • Location of Errorlog when SQL Server is running and you are able to connect:
    • Connect to SQL Server using SQL Server Management Studio by providing correct name. To find the name to connect, refer my earlier post
    • In Query window run below command
      sp_readerrorlog
    • Here is the output

    ERRORLOG

    • Highlighted area “Logging SQL Server messages in file ‘D:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10_50.SQL2K8R2\MSSQL\Log\ERRORLOG’” is current ERRORLOG file 
    • If you look at folder D:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10_50.SQL2K8R2\MSSQL\Log\ here are files.

                          LOG Folder

          As you can see above that LOG folder contains many files. I have provided little information about them in picture.

  • Location of Errorlog when SQL Server is running and you are NOT able to connect:

    There could be situations where you are not able to connect to SQL Server because SQL Server service is not getting started. In those situations, sp_readerrorlog can’t be run. Now, we have to find ERRORLOG file using other technique. Here we go.

    • Open SQL Server Configuration Manager:
      Go to Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2005 (or 2008) (or 2008 R2) > Configuration Tools > SQL Server Configuration Manager
      SQL Server Configuration Manager
    • Once you open Configuration Manager, you would get below screen. There you need to locate your SQL Server Instance, right click and properties.

      Configuration Manager

    • Here is the Properties window. Come to Advanced tab & Click on drop down for “Startup Parameters” value and you would see three parameters (can be more also). As shown below there would be –d, –e and –l parameters. Value after –e is your SQL Server Error Log location.

      SSCM Properties

Now if someone is asking ERRORLOG file, please provide using above two methods. You can also get it from SQL Server Management Studio, as described here 

Hope this would help someone in the world!

Cheers,
Balmukund Lakhani
Twitter @blakhani

Posted in Configuration Manager, ERRORLOG, SQL Server | 36 Comments »