How To Restore TDE Encrypted Database Backup: A Comprehensive Guide

How To Restore TDE Encrypted Database Backup? Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) is a robust security feature in Microsoft SQL Server that safeguards sensitive data at rest by encrypting the entire database. While restoring a regular database backup is a straightforward process, restoring a TDE-encrypted database requires additional steps due to the encryption layer. This guide delves into the intricacies of restoring a TDE-encrypted database backup, ensuring a smooth and secure process.

how to restore tde encrypted database backup

Understanding TDE and its Impact on Backups:

Does TDE encrypt backups? TDE utilizes a service master key and a database encryption key to encrypt and decrypt database files. The service master key resides in the master database and encrypts the database encryption key. This layered encryption ensures even if someone gains access to the backup file, they cannot decrypt the data without the necessary keys.

Therefore, simply restoring the backup file wouldn’t bring the database online. You need to make the encryption keys accessible to the restored database for it to function correctly.

Imp: Please test the given steps in the Non-prod environment first, if everything looks good you can perform it in the prod environment.

Prerequisites for Restoration

Before embarking on the restoration process, ensure you have the following:

  • Backup file: This file contains the encrypted database data.
  • Certificate file: This file are crucial for decrypting the database encryption key.
  • private key password: This password is needed to unlock the master key used for decryption.

Read More: How to Remove Transparent Data Encryption (TDE)?

How to restore TDE encrypted database backup step by step?

Step-1: Copy the certificate and private key files: Ensure you have access to the certificate (.cer) and private key (.pvk) files used during the initial TDE configuration. These files are typically stored securely, separate from the backup file.

Step-2: Copy the encrypted database backup to the destination server

Step-3: Create a master key (if not already present): If the target server doesn’t have a master key, create one using the CREATE MASTER KEY statement in SSMS, specifying a strong password.

USE master


Step-4: Import the Certificate with Private Key: Execute the CREATE CERTIFICATE statement in SSMS, providing the path to the certificate backup file and the password used during its creation.

CREATE CERTIFICATE TDECert FROM FILE=’Certificate_backup_path\TDECert_Name.certbak’



Step-5: Restore the database backup: In SSMS, navigate to the “Management” section, right-click on “Management,” and select “Back Up.” Choose the desired backup file, ensure the “Database” component is selected, and specify the destination for the restored database.

Additional Considerations:

  • Permissions: Ensure the user performing the restoration has the necessary permissions on the server and database objects involved.
  • Security: Always follow best practices for securely storing and managing certificate and private key files. Consider using Azure Key Vault for centralized and secure key management.
  • Testing: After restoration, perform thorough testing to verify the database functions correctly and the data is accessible.

Read More: MS SQL Server Database Backup and Recovery Component

How to Remove Encryption From The Database?

  1. After restoration change the ‘Encryption Enabled’ column to ‘FALSE’ in restored database properties.
  2. Right-click on ‘DB_NAME
  3. Click on ‘Properties
  4. Click on ‘Options
  5. On right-hand panel, under “Other options” you can find the “Encryption Enabled” field set it to ‘FALSE’.
How to Restore TDE Encrypted Database Backup

NOTE: Always backup your TDE certificate and private key.


By following these steps and considerations, you can successfully restore a TDE-encrypted database backup. Remember, TDE adds an essential layer of security to your databases, so understanding the restoration process is crucial to ensure data availability and security in case of an outage or disaster. For more advanced scenarios and troubleshooting, consult the official Microsoft documentation for specific guidance. (How To Restore TDE Encrypted Database Backup)


Can I restore a TDE encrypted database backup without the certificate?

No, unfortunately, restoring a TDE encrypted database backup requires the certificate and private key used during encryption. These elements are crucial for decrypting the database during the restore process.

How do I restore a TDE encrypted database backup to another server?

Restoring a TDE backup to another server involves several steps:
a. Prepare the destination server: Create a database master key and enable TDE on the new server. b. Restore the certificate: Use the BACKUP CERTIFICATE command to restore the certificate and private key from your backup on the new server. c. Restore the database: Use a standard RESTORE DATABASE command specifying the backup file and encryption details.

I lost the certificate! Can I still recover the database?

Recovery options depend on your situation. If you can restore the original server from backups, you might retrieve the Service Account Machine Key (SMK) used for encryption.
In other scenarios, data recovery might be complex and involve specialized tools. It’s best to consult a database administrator for assistance.

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