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 land on an unattached content database data recovery page. This page will let you recover the content from the content database, which is not the part of SharePoint Farm.

Unattached content database data recovery page’s direct link - /_admin/UnattachedDbSelect.aspx

In a scenario, we have a copy of content database, which is attached to SQL and we want to recover a site collection from this DB. We can’t attach it to SharePoint as another copy of the same content DB is already attached 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 by simply using the central admin Website (we can user PowerShell) we can  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 the content database is attached to SQL Server and online.
  • Content database has a same version level as SharePoint is otherwise and it will cause an issue in the recovery.
  • SharePoint Farm admin account has proper permission on the database.
  • Farm account also has the permission on the backup location.

Restore a site collection.

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

  • Login to central admin with an account, which is a part of farm administrator group.
  • On the unattached content database recovery page, please enter the information given below.

    1. Database Server
      Enter the name of the database Server i.e. KF-SQL

    2. Database Name
      Enter the name of the database. I.e. Team_ContentDB

    3. Database Authentication
      You can use Windows or SQL authentication, which depends on your setting. I.e. Windows authentication.

    4. Choose Operation
      What recovery operation do you want to perform. I.e. browse the content.

    5. Click Next

  • On the next page, please select the proper options.

    1. Make sure that correct site collection is selected.
    2. Choose the operation- We want to take the backup of the site collection.

  • On the next page, please enter the information given below.

    1. Site collection- Make sure the correct site collection is selected
    2. File Name- Enter the path, where the backup files will be stored.
    3. Overwrote existing file- Check this box, if you want to overwrite the file, if the existing file name is there.
    4. Click Start Back

  • Now, you will get the status page. This page will show the progress of the backup

  • Once it completes successfully, you will get the screenshot given below on the status page.

  • Now, if you browse to the backup directory, then you will see a backup file.

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