Fix SQL Server Error 3201 - Cannot Open Backup Device

Introduction to SQL Server Error 3201

Suppose you have a healthy backup of your database and want to restore the same, when you are performing a restore operation on a backed up database an error message will appear on screen, ‘Cannot open backup device operating system error 5 (access is denied) on this instance.’

Error Message:

Msg 3201, Level 16, State 1, Line 1
    Cannot open backup device ‘C:\testdb.bak’. Operating system error 5(Access is denied.).

Reasons of Cannot Open Backup Device Error 3201

The “Operating system error 5 access is denied cannot open backup device” occurs due to the permission issue. This means that the user account which is being used to restore the database from backup file is not permitted to perform certain kind of tasks. It is also possible that the backup database file is corrupted or the database is in suspect mode.

SQL Server error 3201 may occurs when you copied the backup file from another computer or the security reasons may also block the file. Here I have mentioned some other possible reasons that may be responsible for this error.

  1. Inappropriate methods of attaching an MDF file after detaching.
  2. Insufficient disk space to keep backup files.
  3. Please ensure that the backup file is not corrupted.
  4. The permission issue of accessing the database backup file location.
  5. Specifying folder is unavailable on the same instance to restore DB backup.
  6. The incomplete software installation may also create this problem.
  7. Exceeding startup entries and registry files may also be responsible for this error.

Fix SQL Server Error 3201 Cannot Open Backup Device

You need to perform the following steps to fix "cannot open backup device microsoft sql server error 3201":

  1. Check the running user account on the SQL Server instance.
  2. Go to the SQL Server service account using the SQL Server Configuration Manager.
  3. Expand the folder C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL and click on Properties.
  4. Go to the Security tab and add the SQL Server Service account.
  5. Give the permission to Modify and Click OK.
  6. After performing the given steps it is recommended that you should verify the directory where both MDF and LDF files are stored in SQL server service also has modified permissions.
  7. Now restart the SQL Server instance.


In the present article we have discussed about "cannot open backup device microsoft sql server error 3201". We have also discussed the reasons of this error and how to fix error code 3201.

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