Restore a SQL database from Windows SQL Server to SQL Server Linux instance

Database professionals get the standard requirement for SQL database restores from production to non-production
instances. As you know, SQL Server runs on the Linux and Windows operating systems starting from SQL Server 2016.
Suppose you are exploring the SQL Server Linux instance features and configurations.

You want to compare the performance of objects (stored procedure) for a database in the Windows environment as well
as the Linux environment. You can either generate the objects scripts (with data) from the source and execute the
script on the Linux database. It might not be feasible for a vast database. In that case, you want to restore the
SQL database backup from the Windows SQL Server to SQL Server Linux.

For example, you get a requirement to restore the databases with the following source and destination:

  • Source: SQL Server 2019 on Windows platform
  • Destination: SQL Server 2019 on Ubuntu Linux

Can we restore the databases on cross-platform SQL Server instances? It is interesting to see if we can see do it
and if yes, how?

Environment details

I have the following SQL Server instances in my lab environment, as shown below.

Source SQL

Destination SQL


Linuxnode2 (

Version: 15.0.2000.5 (SQL 2019 RTM)

Version: 15.0.4053.23 (SQL 2019 CU6)

OS: Windows Server 2016

OS: Ubuntu Linux 18.04

In this lab, my source and destination SQL versions are different. We cannot restore a database into the lower
version. It is okay because the destination Linux SQL instance is on a higher version than the source version.

SQL Server Linux

Right-click on SQL instance and view the SQL Server properties to verify the operating system and platform.

Compare Windows and Linux SQL

If you do not know the process to install SQL Server on Linux, you can follow existing articles on SQLShack.

Steps to restore a database from Windows SQL Server to SQL Server Linux

For this article, let’s create a new database [DemoForLinuxRestore] on the Windows SQL Server. You can right-click
on the databases tab and create a new database with default properties, as shown below.

create a new SQL database

Insert some sample records into the new database. For this purpose, I use the SELECT INTO statement that creates a
new table automatically from the source table data.

Sample data

Take a full backup of the [DemoForLinuxRestore] database

You can take a full database backup either using SSMS GUI wizard or with the BACKUP DATABASE script.

Backup Database DemoForLinuxRestore to disk=’C:SQLDemoForLinuxRestore.bak’

Take a full backup of the [DemoForLinuxRestore] database

Copy the database backup from Windows server to Linux server

Usually, when you need to restore the database between two SQL instances on the Windows servers, you create a shared
folder and access the backup file from the destination instance.

In this article, we need to copy the backup file from a Windows to Linux operating system. For this purpose, we use

Download the WinSCP and install it with the default ( Commander) interface style. In this mode, we use two separate
consoles for the source and destination server. You can drag the files from source to destination in this Commander

Copy the database backup using WINSCP

Launch the WinSCP. It automatically connects to the Windows server while it asks you for connection information on
another server.

We can connect the Linux server using the SFTP protocol on Port 22. Specify the hostname (IP address), user name and
the password to connect the Linux server.

Login using WINSCP

On the left side, we have the Windows server directory while on the right, it has the Linux server.

Drag file from source to destination

Change the directories in the WinSCP, as shown below.

  • Source: C:SQL ( the backup directory)
  • Destination: /tmp/ ( Temporary directory to copy the files in Linux)

Change the directories

Drag the SQL database backup from Windows to Linux console as shown below.

Drag the SQL database backup

Now, connect to the Linux server using the terminal and view the backup file exists.

$ cd /tmp
$ ls -lrt Demo*.bak

connect to the Linux server

Use Sudo access to browse to the SQL Server Linux directory /var/opt/mssql.

$ sudo su
$ cd /var/opt/mssql

Sudo access

The mssql directory has the data, log folders that contains SQL database primary file and log file.

/var/opt/mssql# cd data
/var/opt/mssql# ls

mssql directory

Let’s create a new directory in the /var/opt/mssql and copy the backup file from the /tmp to the new directory.

/var/opt/mssql# mkdir backup
/var/opt/mssql# scp /tmp/Demo*.bak /var/opt/mssql/backup

create a new directory

View the backup file in the backup directory, as shown below.

View the backup file

Restore the backup file in SQL Server Linux using the Azure Data Studio

We can use command-line tools such as SQLCMD in SQL Server Linux to perform database activities. Azure Data Studio
is also useful on the Linux server to perform certain database activities. If you want to use the SQL Server
Management Studio, you need to connect the Linux instance in SSMS installed on a Windows server.

You can download the Azure Data Studio latest version and connect the Linux instance.

Restore the backup file

Currently, we have one user database [LinuxAGSQL] for linuxnode2 instance.

user database [LinuxAGSQL]

Right-click on the instance -> Manage to launch the server dashboard. In this dashboard, click on Restore.

server dashboard.

In the restore database wizard, browse to the Linux directory contains the backup file. You can browse similar to a
Windows directory in Azure Data Studio.

restore database wizard

We get an error – SQL Server is unable to open the backup file in the /var/opt/mssql/data. Due to the permission
issue, the RESTORE HEADERONLY command terminated.


To investigate the issue, check the backup file owner with the ls-lrt command. Currently, the root
user has ownership of the SQL database backup file.

Modify the permissions to the mssql user using the chown command as shown below.

# /var/opt/mssql/backup# ls -lrt
# /var/opt/mssql/backup# chown mssql Demo*.bak

backup file owner

Now, relaunch the restore database wizard, and it can access the backup file. You get the backup file details in the
restoration plan.

relaunch the restore database wizard

You can directly execute the backup ( click on Restore) or generate a RESTORE DATABASE script. In this script,
verify the following:

  • Data and Log file location is /var/opt/mssql/data
  • backup file location is /var/opt/mssql/backup

Restore database script

Click on Run to execute the restore command. It shows you the progress of the database restores in the message tab.

execute the restore

Database Validations

Refresh the databases in Azure Data Studio, and you see the restored [DemoForLinuxRestore] database in the Linux.

Refresh databases

Database consistency check

As we restore a Windows-based SQL database to the Linux instance, it is good to perform a database consistency check
using DBCC CHECKDB. As shown below, CHECKDB did not raise any consistency issues.

Consistency check

Verify table record counts

In the last step, verify the table record counts. Previously, we inserted the 290 rows in Windows SQL before taking
database backup. As shown below, it has the same record count after database restore in SQL Server Linux.

Verify record counts


In this article, we restored a SQL database from the Windows SQL Server to SQL Server Linux instance. You can
restore the database similar to restore between two different Windows SQL instances.

Rajendra Gupta
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Author: admin

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