It’s always frustrating when your SQL Server gets corrupted. It slows down productivity, disrupts workflow, and can even cause you to lose data. But a big part of SQL repair is knowing what caused the problem in the first place. Knowing the most common reasons why this happens can go a long way in getting your server back up and running again quickly.

1. Hardware Failure

More than 95% of SQL server corruption is the result of hardware failure – as in, something going wrong with the machine you’re operating on. Your hardware can fail for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Disk failure
  • Power interruption
  • Abrupt system shut down while the database is open
  • Bugs in your disk driver or server
  • Virus infection
  • Upgrading your SQL server from the previous versions to a new one, sometimes causing a crash

While it’s true that hardware failures can’t be avoided 100% of the time, you can take a few steps to help reduce the likelihood of it happening:


  • Keep your hardware up-to-date and in good working condition.
  • Only operate your SQL server on a computer with a secure power connection.
  • Keep your virus protection software up to date.

2. Software Problems

While we rely on software for nearly everything to keep our tech running today, the software isn’t devoid of problems. There are a variety of things that can go wrong or ways your SQL server data can get corrupted, especially if your server data is handled by a lot of different people every day.

Common software problems that can cause database corruption:

  • Defects in the SQL server itself, such as a team member making a change to the server that ruins the data
  • Changes in the SQL server account
  • Storage media corruption, such as corruption in the location where the server MDF files are stored
  • File header corruption
  • Malware
  • Viruses

These are frustrating problems, but, like the hardware issues, they’re usually preventable. To avoid these kinds of problems, educate your team (anyone who handles your SQL server or makes changes to it frequently) regularly so they’re properly trained in how to avoid causing defects in the SQL server, the file header, or the folder where the server’s MDF files are stored. 

Also, educate them often about security threats like malware and viruses, and keep them updated about current threats so they know what to watch out for. If anyone on your team demonstrates a lack of ability to handle your SQL server carefully, reconsider allowing them to modify it.

3. Human Error

It’s the unfortunate truth that people make errors, despite the best of intentions and the most stringent of precautions. 

Common human errors that can cause SQL server database corruption:

  • Upgrading software from an older to a newer version
  • A team member accidentally deleting crucial data
  • Storing the SQL database in a compressed folder

Check-in with your team regularly about how to avoid these problems from happening. Ideally, permissions to make big changes like updates and storage would be handled by only a few people, to avoid the likelihood of these problems occurring.

Knowing where to start when repairing a corrupted SQL server database will set you up to be the office hero. And the most important step when solving a problem is finding the source. That’s the crucial step to prevent it from happening again. And if you ever do need to repair your MDF file, you can find instructions for that here.