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How to transfer cached SQL Server names in SSMS between machines

  • by Michael Gombasy
  • September 05, 2017
How to transfer cached SQL Server names in SSMS between machines

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) has a helpful feature that remembers that last 15 SQL server instances to which you’ve connected, displaying them in a dropdown list within the Connect to Server window. This eliminates the need to remember or track the often-times complex server names we use on a daily basis.


But when it comes time to upgrade to a new machines - or worse, you are forced to wipe your system and reinstall everything - that list of servers disappears!


Panic and despair sets in, and you start praying that documentation exists somewhere to help you start rebuilding that precious list of servers.

Fear not - a solution has been found!

Step 1

On your old system, navigate to the following directory:

C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SQL Server Management Studio\[SQL Version #]

NOTE: If you cannot find this directory while browsing This PC make sure that Hidden Items is checked under the View tab at the top of the window


Here you will find a file named SqlStudio.bin.


Copy this file to your new system (I like to copy it to my desktop for the sake of convenience)

Step 2

After installing SSMS on your new system, navigate to the same directory as before:

C:\Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SQL Server Management Studio\[SQL Version #]

IMPORTANT: SSMS should not be open during this step. If it is open, close it.


You will find the same SqlStudio.bin file as you did in Step 1, only this time instead of copying, you are going to rename it. I renamed mine to SqlStudio_Original

Step 3

Move the SqlStudio.bin file you copied to your new system in Step 1 to the same directory:


Step 4

Open SSMS and you will find all the servers from your old machine in the Server Name dropdown list!


If for any reason you need to undo this process:

  1. Close SSMS
  2. Navigate to the directory in Step 2
  3. Delete SqlStudio.bin
  4. Rename SqlStudio_Original back to SqlStudio
  5. Reopen SSMS

The above process has been successfully tested between 2 computers running Windows 10 with the old system running SQL Server 2016 (v13) and the new system running SSMS 17.1 (v14).

Michael Gombasy

Michael is a Business Analyst at Inviso, who enjoys taking ambiguous data and turning it into meaningful stories and insights. When he is not working as a data and reporting wizard, Michael spends his time outside in the garden, backpacking and flying drones. If he is not outside, he can most likely be found playing video games and tinkering with anything he can find.


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