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Migrate SQL Server Database to Lower Version – Best 3 How to Tutorials

Published By Aswin Vijayan
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On October 4th, 2023
Reading Time 8 Minutes Reading
Category SQL Server
Migrate SQL Server Database to Lower Version

Summary: This article is all about the solution to migrate SQL Server database to lower version without any data loss. Here, we are going to understand why a user wants to downgrade SQL database version & how can they do it using all possible solutions. Also, the comparison among the available methods is also mentioned below.

For instance, let’s take a scenario to understand this in-depth:

We recently got to know a user who upgraded his SQL Server version. However, due to complications, his application wasn’t working properly. Therefore, rather than fixing the solution, the user got frustrated. Evidently, as a result, he then decided to roll back. Now, we got a query from the same user asking how to restore database from higher version to lower version in SQL Server database.

So, without any delay, let’s start with understanding the problem followed by the solution.

Errors & Reasons to Downgrade SQL Database

When the user tries to roll back their decision & downgrade, the database starts showing errors. Thus, we have mentioned the error below that occurs when a user tries to attach the database. The reason for this error is quite simple.

When a server is upgraded to a higher version, then it does not allow users to restore the database from higher to lower. This is because the data storing properties of both the server might have slight to major changes. In a nutshell, this error is a result of SQL Server cumulative updates.

Msg 1813, Level 16, State 2, Line 1
Could not open new database 'DatabaseName'. CREATE DATABASE is aborted. Msg 948, Level 20, State 1, Line 1
The database 'DatabaseName' cannot be opened because it is version 655. This server supports version 611 and earlier. A downgrade path is not supported.

Here, users must keep in mind that this error is one of the many errors that a user faces. Therefore, follow the below techniques to simply downgrade SQL server 2019 to 2016 & even other versions as well.

Migrate SQL Server Database to Lower Version Like A Pro

Now, that users need to get a solution, we are not going to waste their time by suggesting a dull solution. We are straight away going to explain the best solution possible. However, after this, we will still explain the manual solutioin as well for users as an alternative for emergency cases.

SysTools software with the name SQL Server Migration Tool is so far the best & most disciplined utility to execute such tasks. However, even IT experts, MVPs, & trusted users across the globe recommend this tool for such a complex task.

Download Now Purchase Now

Before we suggest users to download this tool, they must go through the features that make this utility worth investing in. This let them understand why this solution is recommended for learning how to restore database from higher version to lower version in SQL Server database.

  • Migrate higher to lower version & vice versa for the procedure of database migration.
  • It is capable of migrating the table, views, rules, triggers, stored procedures, etc.
  • The software can keep the integrity of the data files intact without any damage.
  • Users can migrate their database with schema only or schema with data.
  • This tool offers a total of four modes for SQL Server database migration.
  • The interactive GUI here enables beginners to execute such operations
  • There are advanced filters & various features that make the task fast.
  • .It supports the SQL Server 2022, 2019, 2017, and other versions.
Also Read: The Top 5 SQL Server Migration Tools for Users

Step by Step Downgrade SQL Database Version

The step-by-step solution of this tool can help users in order to get the shortest & most advanced solution. It ensures safety & thus used widely across the globe. Evidently, download the software & then simply go through the below-mentioned steps:

Step-1. Install the  Tool & then Launch it on your system to begin.

Step-2. Select the Migration Mode as either Online or Offline.

Step-3. Preview the Database Files to cross-check & continue.

Step-4. Select the Destination Location to migrate data.

select destination

Step-5. Hit Export to migrate SQL Server database to lower version.

Migrate SQL Server Database to Lower Version

Note: This software supports only Windows OS & Windows Server 2012 & 2016.

How to Restore Database from Higher Version to Lower Version in SQL Server Manually?

When it comes to the manual solution, there are no advanced features available. Also, we can say that this solution is not that appreciated by users. The reason for this is the outdated & risky procedure that users try to escape.

In addition, this manual method is not simple but complex. Includes two stages one after another to get the results. Even after this, there is no surety of getting the desired results.

To learn more about it we can say users must have SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). There they can generate scripts with the generate Scripts wizard. So let’s begin.

Generate Scripts to Downgrade SQL Server 2019 to 2016 & Other Versions

Now, we’re going to generate the schema of the higher database instance first. After this only users can anyhow manage to migrate the database to their destination. Follow the below instructions here to migrate SQL Server database to lower version step by step.

Step 1. Open SSMS & navigate to the Object Explorer option.

Step 2. Right-Click on the Desired Database to begin.

Step 3. Hit the Tasks button & Click the Generate Scripts option.

Step 4. Click Next & Choose Objects in Generate & Publish Scripts option.

Step 5. Select the “Script entire database & all database objects” option.

Step 6. Hit the Next button to move to the “Set Scripting Options” page.

Step 7. Set the Location on the Set Scripting Options tab.

Step 8. Click on the Advanced button to adjust the options like

  • Script for SQL Server Version.
  • Types of data to script like Schema and Data.
  • Set Script primary key, Triggers, Indexes options, etc.

Step 9. Click OK & proceed next to the Summary tab.

Step 10. Review your Selections & Hit the Next button.

Step 11. Click on the Finish tab to Generate Scripts.

Connect to Lower Version & Run Generated Scripts

Now, that users have generated the script, the final stage is just to connect to the lower version & run these scripts. Learning to downgrade SQL database can be hectic this way, but users must not lose their focus as it can cause severe consequences.

  1. Go to Object Explorer & connect to the lower SQL Server version.
  2. Click Open >> File & open the generated scripts in the previous stage.
  3. Change Scripts to set the data and database logs location.
  4. Execute the Script on create the database on the lower version option.
  5. Refresh the Database folder in the object explorer after running scripts.
  6. Click the Database & cross-check for all the migrated data files.

Manual Method Drawbacks to Migrate SQL Server Database to Lower Version

There are plenty of drawbacks present in the manual solutions & this is why users don’t really trust such solutions. Moreover, when we dive deeper, we found that the shortcomings are quite dangerous. Let’s discuss them to proceed further & make our final decision.

Data Loss Risk: The most dangerous disadvantage of this method is that it also results in data loss if not executed without a single mistake. Crucial data loss is the worst nightmare of any SQL user for sure.

Time-Consuming: The manual solution is way outdated & is quite time-consuming. This makes the method inefficient for users to downgrade SQL server 2019 to 2016 or any other version as well.

Complex Procedure: Yes, the manual solution is way more complex than the automated one. Thus, we must say that there are more chances that a user will do mistakes which is not at all acceptable in this solution.

No Advanced Features: The method does not provide any advanced features. This means that users need to execute all the steps by themselves & this is enough to spoil the user experience.

No Guaranteed Results: Even after putting in so much effort, there is no surety that this method will work or not. Putting it simply, it’s not worth investing the time & resources.

Comparison of Automated and Manual Solutions

Now, let’s have a direct face-off between both solutions to provide a clear picture of the better solution. To migrate SQL Server database to lower version, users need to make a wise decision based on the facts.

Manual Automated
Outdated & Feature Less Solution Full of Advanced Features
Data Loss & Integrity Issues Protects Database Files & Repair Damages
Time-Consuming Totally Quick & Hassle Free
Only for Expert Users For Beginners, Intermediate & Experts
No Guaranteed Results 100% Guaranteed Results


In conclusion, we must say that learning how to restore database from higher version to lower version in SQL Server is easy. However, users must be crystal clear regarding the tool & technique. Otherwise, it might get worse & users can even lose their crucial data files.

Finally, as per our suggestion, the automated solution is better for users to downgrade SQL database. Manual one is way too risky.

Also Read: The Best 5 MDF Viewer Tools Available


Q-1. What to do for only repairing the corrupted files?

Ans: Users can go through the top 5 SQL Recovery Tools to repair their database corruption.

Q-2. Can we upgrade server with this tool?

Ans: Yes, along with the task to migrate SQL Server database to lower version, this tool also supports the upgradation task.

Q-2. How many versions does it support?

Ans: This solution supports almost all versions of SQL Database from 2000 to the latest 2022 version.