Solution: Recover an Outlook 2007 Business Contact Manager Database from a failed PC

Computer dead?  Don’t have a good backup of your Business Contact Manager data?

This is a serious problem.  It’s not an easy thing to find a solution to, either; those that exist only seem to work for some people, and only under particular circumstances, too.  So in this post, I’ve set out to provide a solution that should work for everyone–hopefully.

Just one preliminary note: this only pertains to the 2007 version of Outlook. While it may work in other versions, I haven’t tested it there.

Okay.  So you’ve got a dead computer (maybe yours, maybe your client’s), and you have the files recovered from the drive–perhaps from a backup.  But unfortunately, as simple as it ought to be, recovering a Business Contact Manager database is far from it.  You can’t simply retrieve the files and then import them somehow.  In fact, from my recent experience, you can’t even make it work unless you follow a very specific order of operations.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. You first need the *.mdf and *.ldf files from within the Business Contact Manager Local Application Data/%LocalAppData% directory.  Be sure to copy only those files which correspond to your current database (probably those with the most recent Modified date).  You can retrieve those from the failed drive (or backup) by navigating here:
    • On XP, they’re in %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Business Contact Manager
    • On Vista/7, they’re in %LOCALAPPDATA%\Microsoft\Business Contact Manager
  2. Copy these files to the new PC and place them in a temporary location on the new PC (such as the user’s Windows Desktop).
  3. Install Office 2007 (if it isn’t already installed), along with the Business Contact Manager.
    • If Office is already installed and you’ve already configured Business Contact Manager, you have no choice but to completely remove everything related to Business Contact Manager.  That means everything: Business Contact Manager 2007, and all listed software related to SQL Server 2005. 
  4. Install Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3 (you’ll need the very latest version just in case the files are from a later version than the freshly-installed one, which is likely).
  5. Open Outlook 2007.  Start the Business Contact Manager wizard and instruct it to create a new database with the same name as the old database.  If you’re unsure what the old database was named, it’s easy to tell: simply take whatever text comes before the .mdf and .ldf (it should be identical), and that’s your database name.  It’s very important that the names match!
  6. Immediately close Outlook after the database creation is complete.
  7. Stop the MSSQL$MSSMLBIZ service.
    • You can either use the services.msc interface to do so or open a Command Prompt and type sc stop “MSSQL$MSSMLBIZ” at the prompt (then press ENTER).
  8. Copy the .mdf and .ldf files from the old PC (wherever you saved them) to the Business Contact Manager working directory on the new PC, overwriting the new files with the old ones.
    • It should be obvious where the working directory is located.  If you’re unsure, re-read the sub-points on Step 1.
  9. Set permissions on the .mdf and .ldf files to allow Full Control to Everyone.  Here’s a helpful page on the subject in case you aren’t familiar with this process.  Be sure you set the permissions correctly!
  10. Restart the MSSQL$MSSMLBIZ service.
    • Again, you can use services.msc or type sc start “MSSQL$MSSMLBIZ” at a Command Prompt.
  11. Finally, start Outlook 2007 and verify that all data has been successfully recovered.

Congratulations, you’ve done the impossible!

Donate to say "Thanks" if this post has helped save you time and money! 🙂

One thought on “Solution: Recover an Outlook 2007 Business Contact Manager Database from a failed PC

  1. That was a great tutorial, been fighting that for hours using various online sources trying to get Business Contact Manager to load the original mdf file. Wanted to mention that I had to tweek a couple of things to get it to work. After uninstalling BCM and reinstalling BCM, I tried to create a database with the name of my old one, but would get an error that it already exists. I even deleted the entire BCM and SQL folders, but still the same. Finally I installed Outlook and BCM on another computer and used your tutorial and it worked fine. Then exported the data and imported it to the customer computer. Anyways, I sent you a small donation. Thanks.

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