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Migrating from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2000

Can SQL Server 2005 databases be migrated back to SQL Server 2000 servers?

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During the process of migrating to SQL Server 2005, many development organizations will still be forced to support SQL Server 2000 installations. As a result, a common requirement is the ability to reverse-migrate: move databases back from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2000.

Unfortunately, this is not as easy. Backed-up databases from SQL Server 2005 instances cannot be restored in SQL Server 2000 instances. Nor can detached SQL Server 2005 databases be reattached to SQL Server 2000.

Because backup/restore and detach/attach are not supported, the only methods available for moving data from SQL Server 2005 installations to SQL Server 2000 installations are based on copying data. Data and schemas can be scripted using a tool such as Red Gate's SQL Packager and scripts can be applied on the SQL Server 2000 installations. Another option is to use tools such as DTS or SSIS, both of which include data copying wizards.

However, copying data and schema is a potentially troublesome experience. SQL Server 2005 supports many features that are not present in SQL Server 2000 and can cause problems during cross-migration. It's important to be cautious when attempting to develop solutions for both platforms, and my recommendation is that development should be done using SQL Server 2000 and the code and data migrated forward to SQL Server 2005, rather than the other way around.

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This was first published in December 2005

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