Read time 3 minutes

Summary: Measurement data files are very essential in SQL Server. However, it’s hard to open and view MDF files without SQL Server. We have covered some manual and automated methods to open and view MDF files without SQL Server. Manual methods need a knowledge of technical background. If you are scared of using manual methods, then use Kernel for the SQL Database recovery tool to open and view your MDF files quickly without SQL Server.

SQL Server uses SQL Server Management Studio to create the database and its properties. The SSM Studio saves the whole database in an MDF data file. The MDF file is saved in your computer’s local folder like any other file and is equally prone to corruption like all Windows files. The default location of the MDF file is presented below:

SQL Server 2019:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL15.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\TechForums19.mdf

SQL Server 2017:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL14.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\TechForums19.mdf

SQL Server 2016:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\TechForums19.mdf

SQL Server 2014:

C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA\TechForums19.mdf

MDF file corruption

There are several causes behind the damage to MDF files:

  • Storage media gets corrupted
  • Accidental loss or deletion of data
  • Hardware malfunctioning
  • Disk failures
  • Improper system shutdowns and application exits
  • Malware and Virus attacks
Drawbacks of using manual methods

Some drawbacks will abruptly stop users from opening and viewing MDF files without SQL Server. Some most manual drawbacks are mentioned below:

  • High technicalities: Manual methods are a little bit risky and time-consuming; even users need technical knowledge to use manual methods.
  • Complex procedure: even though manual methods are more complex, users need to try different actions in different scenarios.
  • Lack of features: No advanced features without SQL Server. Users need to access the SQL Server to open MDF files seamlessly.
  • Zero results: After using manual methods, there is no assured guarantee of getting the oriented results.
Professional tool to open and view MDF file

The only way to access MDF files without SQL server installed on your environment is to rely in a professional tool such as Kernel for SQL Recovery . It not only enables viewing of MDF files without SQL server, but also repairs corrupt, damaged, or inaccessible MDF files. The trial version of the SQL server recovery software is free of cost and is a perfect tool for viewing all the MDF files irrespective of the version of SQL server.

Working of Kernel for SQL Database Recovery

The brief working of the tool is described below:

  1. Download the trial version
  2. After successful installation, launch the tool and click the Browse button.Launch the SQL Recovery tool
  3. Select the MDF file. Click Open.Select MDF file to recover
  4. A dialogue box that displays the ongoing recovery progress appears.Start recovery process
  5. Once the progress is completed, all the database objects are displayed on the left pane with original hierarchy. You can preview the files by clicking any particular file/folder. Preview the recovered files
    Note: the demo version lets you view the data of MDF files without SQL Server. However, to save the entire recovered data, you need to purchase the licensed version.


MDF files are the most crucial elements of SQL database server. They record the most important data. Opening and viewing these MDF files without SQL server requires the support of a third-party tool. Once you have a handy tool like Kernel for SQL Database Recovery, it becomes quite easy to open and view MDF files without SQL Server.

Kernel for SQL Database Recovery