Resolve Microsoft SQL Server error 5171 – MDF is not a Primary Database File

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Summary: In this blog, we will discuss SQL Server Error 5171 – MDF is not a primary database file. Find the reasons and solution to fix this error.

The Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system. It can store and retrieve data requested by other software applications whether it is on the same system on another system. Occasionally, it happens that SQL becomes corrupt due to some unwanted reasons. Therefore, you might be SQL Server error 5171 which maybe you are facing. So, don’t panic you will surely get some solution from this post. Let’s have a look on symptoms of this error.

Symptoms of Microsoft SQL Server 2014 error 5171

There may be several symptoms which are responsible for this error. This may occur due to encounter login failure of SQL Server and unable to restore SQL database files. Additionally, you might be failed in creating ‘tempdb’ database and having problems with attaching the database to the server.

Description of SQL Server error 5171

The Microsoft SQL Server Error 5171 prototype is shown below:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL10_50.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Aria.mdf is not a primary database file

Also Read: Top 5 MS Access Database Corruption Causes and Solutions

Reasons Responsible for “.mdf is not a primary database file”

The MDF files stores the data as pages with and each page occupies about 8 KB size. The first page is considered as the header page of the MDF file which contains important database information like file signature, the size of the file, compatibility, etc. The real data is stored in the other pages. In the situation when the header page is not recognized by the SQL Server, then the whole MDF file is considered as an invalid file.

In case the header page or other page is not recognized by the SQL Server, the entire MDF file is not considered as a valid file. Further, it results in the Error 5171.

Situations When Microsoft SQL Server Error 5171 is Encountered

There are many situations in which you may face SQL Server Attach Error 5171. Some of these are:

Situation 1: Often, when you use a mirror database in MS SQL Server and you set the database online by executing ALTER DATABASE command.

Method to Resolve: Follow the following steps to fix the error:

  • First, set principal database.
  • With the use of ALTER DATABASE MODIFY FILE command, modify file information.
  • End the SQL server instance.
  • Copy MDF and LDF files into a different directory.
  • Restart the SQL Server.
  • Attach the MDF and LDF files.

Note: This process will also clear the database mirroring.

Situation 2: At the instance of upgrading SQL server to a new version, this error can occur. Suppose a user is using SQL Server 2008. Maybe you disconnect the database and then upgrade the server to the required version. After complete up-gradation process, when you attempt to attach the database to the server, error 5171 can occur.

Resolve SQL Server Error 5171

To fix this error, use the sp_attach_db command to attach the database. But, this step will only help if sp_detach_db has been used to detach the database.

So, in the above discussion, we found that these solutions have some limitations. Hence, it is advised you opt for professional solution SQL Database Recovery software. It can repair & retrieves corrupt MS SQL Database easily. It offers high accuracy recovery of file objects including tables, views, stored procedure, programmability, triggers, default, and functions.

The Bottom Line

We have discussed above all the possible ways to resolve SQL Server error 5171. However, manual solutions have some limitations. Thus, it is advised to use a professional solution to resolve it.


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