Powershell – Copy the Latest Backup

I got an email recently where someone asked me how they can refresh a dev environment with Powershell. I guess I’d written something about this in 2009, though that would have been for testing as Red Gate had already banned me from development on SQLServerCentral by that time.

I dug around and came up with a few partial scripts and cleaned them up for these posts. This post will look at getting the backup and a later one will examine the restore.

Finding the Latest Backup

I’ll assume that you make backups on a known path somewhere. My philosophy is that I want the machines to stand alone as much as possible. That means that I don’t want the source machine (the one making the backup) to be working on refreshing the backup elsewhere. I want a pull system.

For a high level overview, this process looks like this:

  • Search the backup path for files matching a pattern.
  • Find the most recent one, based on date.
  • Copy that most recent file to another location.

For the sake of consistency and easy, I want to copy the file with the same destination name every time. That will simplify my restore process, which I could easily then do in T-SQL.

Let’s examine how to do this. I’ve got a folder with a few backups in it.


For my PoSh, I’ll start by setting a variable to the path.

$backuppath = "D:\SQLServer\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup" 

Once I have this, I can now look for the files in this path. To do that, I’ll use Get-Children.

get-childitem -path $backuppath

This will return to me a list of the files. That’s what I want, but I want to limit the files to a pattern. In this case, I’m looking for .bak files, from the EncryptionPrimer database. All of these

There’s nothing special about what I do that’s not contained in plenty of places. I don’t have this running on an environment currently as someone else manages that process, but here’s the process I’ve followed in the past:

  • Find the latest backup (whatever the date) in the source folder.
  • Copy this with a set name to the destination folder, overwriting previous backups with the same name.
  • Restore the known name to the development database, moving files as needed.

I’ll go through each of these steps in my PoSh script.

Find the Latest Backup

This is fairly easy. I’ll use the Get-ChildItem method, which I found in a StackOverflow post. I’ll use a variable for the path I need, and then check the path.

$backuppath = "D:\SQLServer\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup"

get-childitem -path $backuppath

That works well, but since I’m building a process for a specific backup type, I’ll add a filter.

$backuppath = "D:\SQLServer\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup"

get-childitem -path $backuppath -Filter "EncryptionPrimer*.bak"


To find the latest backup, we’ll pipe the output through the Where-object filter, removing folders. Then we use sort-object to order things by creation date and select-object to get just the one file.

$backuppath = "D:\SQLServer\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup"

get-childitem -path $backuppath -Filter "EncryptionPrimer*.bak" |

    where-object { -not $_.PSIsContainer } |

    sort-object -Property $_.CreationTime |

    select-object -last 1


The last part of the script is the copy-item command, which is again the recipient of piped output. We give a standard name, and path (another variable).

$backuppath = "D:\SQLServer\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup"

$destpath = "d:\SQLServer\Backup"

get-childitem -path $backuppath -Filter "EncryptionPrimer*.bak" |

    where-object { -not $_.PSIsContainer } |

    sort-object -Property $_.CreationTime |

    select-object -last 1 | copy-item -Destination (join-path $destpath "EncryptionPrimer.BAK")

Once this is done we can restore things. I learned how to do this from PoSh using this post: http://stuart-moore.com/day-11-31-days-sql-server-backup-restore-using-powershell-basic-restore/

However, since I have a standard backup file name, I’d probably do this in T-SQL and set a job that I can just run anytime. It’s simpler and easier, and since most of the time I’d want to do this from SSMS, a job works well.

Here’s the PoSh script.

Import-Module "SQLPS" -DisableNameChecking

$sqlsvr = New-Object -TypeName  Microsoft.SQLServer.Management.Smo.Server("JollyGreenGiant\SQL2012")

$BackupFile = "D:\SQLServer\Backup\EncryptionPrimer.BAK"


#echo ""

#echo "Databases"

#echo "———"

#foreach ( $db in $sqlsvr.Databases) { write-host $db.name }

echo " "

echo "Begin Restore"

echo "============="

$Restore = New-Object "Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.Restore"

$Restore.NoRecovery = $false

$Restore.ReplaceDatabase = $true

$Restore.Action = "Database"

$Restore.PercentCompleteNotification = 10

$BackupDevice = New-Object ("Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.BackupDeviceItem") ($BackupFile, "File")


$RestoreDetails = $Restore.ReadBackupHeader($sqlsvr)

$logicalFileNameList = $Restore.ReadFileList($sqlsvr)

$Restore.Database = $RestoreDetails.Rows[0]["DatabaseName"]

foreach($row in $logicalFileNameList) {

    $RestoreDBFile = new-object("Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.Smo.RelocateFile")

    $RestoreDBFile.LogicalFileName = $row["LogicalName"]

    $RestoreDBFile.PhysicalFileName = $row["PhysicalName"]




write-host ("Completed the Database Restore operation on server for Database " +  $RestoreDetails.Rows[0]["DatabaseName"] + " on server $server")


That’s it. I ran this a few times, and it worked well. A handy script to get the last backup and have it ready in a dev/test environment.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Powershell – Copy the Latest Backup

  1. I really appreciated the article as it fits the needs of our small shop to be able to use SQL Server Agent to run a PS script to move files but …
    I ran into a issue when trying to get the script to run between servers. I was using a mapped network drive and put the backup script to grab the latest FULL backup and copy it from the production server to our Reporting server to restore. The PS script worked fine when run inside PS but when the exact same script was dropped into a SQL Agent job it errored out with:
    A job step received an error at line 5 in a PowerShell script. The corresponding line is ‘get-childitem -path $backuppath -Filter “AUEMRDATA_Accumed_FULL_*.bak” | ‘. Correct the script and reschedule the job.
    I was surprised since it worked fine when tested in PS shell. I am still new to using PS but any



  2. way0utwest says:


    The thing that usually fails here (same with ETL stuff and mail) is that the path you’ve mapped isn’t the same when the DB Service or Agent service runs the process.

    What I’d check is that if you log in as the Agent service, is this a valid path I have rights to? That’ might be the issue. Or create a new account, test it, and then use that as a proxy.



  3. sa says:

    Thanks for sharing your scripts; much appreciated. One observation/question – some backup tools (RedGate’s SQL Backup in particular) allow backing up to multiple destination files, so that you could end up with 2 or more files on disk containing a single database backup. Automated scripts that account for that possibility are quite a bit more complex. I use a script very similar to yours for single-file backups but to date, haven’t written a tool that accommodates multiple backup source files. That’s manual effort – fortunately only a few of my databases fit into this category.


    • way0utwest says:

      I definitely haven’t thought about multiple files. I’ve avoided doing that in my career almost everywhere. I haven’t had those large environments that need this.

      I think if I needed to do this, I’d be looking to ensure I had a pattern in the names and then match these up based on that pattern, ignoring the multiple parts of the file when finding the latest backup.


    • sa says:

      Yes, I’d always tried to do the same until I came to my latest employer. We have some databases larger than 2TB; writing a weekly full backup to multiple files is significantly faster to complete, and to copy to long-term store than a single monster backup file. Fortunately, we rarely need to restore these guys aside from testing that they will restore.


Comments are closed.