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Understand the Importance of System Databases and Their Backup

👤 Andrew Jackson | Modified: May 8th, 2023|Backup, SQL, SQL Server 2016 | 3 Minutes Reading

If you are an SQL Database Admin, regular and error-free database backup must be in your to-do list for securing SQL Server. Many of the DBAs only consider user-created databases for database backup. But, they should remember that SQL Server also consists of a number of system databases and these databases should be included in the backup policy. In this write-up, we will talk about the best practices to backup system databases in SQL Server. At the same time, the users will learn about the system databases and the importance of its backup.

What Do We Understand by System Databases

SQL Server system databases are databases created and maintained by the system itself. System databases save data about other databases, i. e. user-created databases. System databases can be of various types. The most important system database is the master database. It is used to record all the SQL Server system level information like the name of all user-created databases, their last status, and their database file locations. Also, it contains records of logins in user-databases, linked servers, endpoints, configuration settings, etc. Other system databases apart from the master database also carry important data so backup of these databases is also necessary.

Types of System Databases

Primarily, ever SQL Server has at least four system databases, which are: master, model, msdb, and tempdb. Apart from these, some other system databases are seen in SQL Server: Resource Database, Reporting Services Databases, Replication System Database. Let us know about these databases in brief.

Why Should We Perform SQL Server System Database Backup

If you do not include system databases in SQL backup schedule, you are making a big mistake. Since backup tops the list of Disaster Recovery measures, As we know, system databases contain crucial system information and database metadata. That is why, it is a must have for the launching and functioning of SQL Server properly. In case of any SQL Server disaster, all these databases can become damaged and unusable, ultimately affecting the SQL Server functionality. Backup copy of the SQL system databases will save your back in case of any disaster. Remember that tempdb and Resource database backup is neither required nor possible.

What are the Best Practices to Backup System Databases in SQL Server

According to our discussion till now, it is evident that the importance of system databases cannot be denied. Hence, every database backup policy must include SQL system database backup. Unfortunately, many DBAs do not backup system databases despite knowing its importance. But not anymore! Now is the time to know the best practices for system database backup and their implementation. There are two different groups of people who refer to two different practices for this type of database backup.

The first group recommends performing system database backup every day, just like it happens in case of user-created database. The second group believes that system database backup after any changes are made is sufficient. Changes in the database mean inclusion and removal of any user, database creation and deletion, and other alterations regarding job, operator, login, database configuration, replication, SSIS package, etc. SQL experts suggest having backup after making changes if the daily backup is not possible.


System databases are equally important for an SQL Server. For this reason, admins should regularly take back up of these databases too. Here we have scripted all the best practices to backup system databases in SQL Server. Readers can go through the post and learn how experts backup their system databases to avoid any data loss.