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SharePoint 2016 Central Admin – Backup and Restore – Recover data from an unattached content database

When you click on the Recover data from an unattached content database
Link, you will be landed on Unattached Content Database Data Recovery page. This page will let you recover content from the content database which is not part of SharePoint farm.

Unattached Content Database Data Recovery page’s direct link: /_admin/UnattachedDbSelect.aspx

In a scenario, we have a copy of the content database which is attached to SQL and we want to recover a site collection from that DB. We can’t attach it to SharePoint as another copy of same content DB is already attach to it and we don’t have another SharePoint farm where we can attach it.

In SharePoint, we have an option called recover data from the unattached content database. In this option, we don’t need to attach the content database to SharePoint farm rather simply using the central admin Web site (we can user PowerShell) and recover the content (Backup of site collection, export a site collection, export site / list / library) from a content database which is attached to SQL server and accessible by SharePoint admin.

This option really helps when we have a copy of content database backup and want to recover the content from that database.


  • Make sure content database attached to SQL server and online
  • Content Database has the same version level as SharePoint is otherwise it will cause an issue in recovery.
  • SharePoint farm admin account has proper permission on the database
  • Farm account also has permission on the backup location.

Restore a Site collection.

Let’s take the backup of the site collection from an unattached content database.

  • Login to central admin with the account which is part of farm administrator group.
  • On the Unattached content database recovery page, please enter following information.
    • Database Server: Enter the name of the Database server i.e. KF-SQL
    • Database Name: Enter the name of a database. I.e. Team_ContentDB
    • Database Authentication: You can use Windows or SQL Authentication depending upon your setting. I.e. Windows Authentication
    • Choose Operation: what recovery operation you want to perform. I.e. Browse Content
    • Click Next

  • On the next page, please select the proper options.
    • Make sure correct Site collection is selected.
    • Choose the operation: we want take backup of site collection.
    • Click Next.

  • On next page, please enter the following information
    • Site collection: make sure correct site collection is selected
    • File Name: enter the path where the backup files will be stored.
    • Overwrote existing file: Check this box if you want to overwrite the file if existing file name is there.
    • Click Start Back

  • Now you will get the status page, this page will show the progress of the backup
  • Once it completed successfully, you will get the following on the status page.
  • Now if you browse to the backup directory then you will see a backup file over there.

Once we get the copy of the backup then we have to run the restore, which is only available in PowerShell. We can’t restore it via central admin, we have to run the Restore-SpSite command in order to restore it.

In above steps, we show how to take the backup of site collection from unattached content database. We can also export a site collection, site, library or list as well.

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