How to Change the Default Backup Directory

When you install a SQL Server instance you have the opportunity to identify the default location for your instance database backups.  If you don’t change the default location for your installation your default backups location will be “C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup”  (default location for a SQL Server 2016 installation).   Overtime you might decide you want to change the default location for database backups.   Below I provide you two different ways to change the default location for your database backups.

If you want to change your default location using TSQL then use the following TSQL code:

EXEC   xp_instance_regwrite
       N'HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE',
       N'SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSSQLServer\MSSQLServer',
       N'BackupDirectory',
       REG_SZ,
       N'C:\MSSQL\Backups';

Note of caution:  Use xp_Instance_regwrite with caution. Updating the registry directly if done incorrectly might cause a software issue.  

If you’d like to use SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to change your default location, then use the following steps:

  1. Bring up SSMS
  2. Right click on the instance name and select the “Properties” item:

    SSMS Properties
    SSMS Properties

  3. On the “Properties” window click on the “Database Settings”

    Database Settings
    Database Settings

  4.       On the “Server Properties” page you can change “Backup” location under the “Database default locations” section:

    Backup Location
    Backup Location

See all articles by Greg Larsen

Gregory Larsen
Gregory Larsen
Gregory A. Larsen is a DBA at Washington State Department of Health (DOH). Greg is responsible for maintaining SQL Server and other database management software. Greg works with customers and developers to design and implement database changes, and solve database/application related problems. Greg builds homegrown solutions to simplify and streamline common database management tasks, such as capacity management.

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