How to Fix SQL Server Error 3241 Incorrectly Formed?  In-depth Guide

How to Fix SQL Server Error 3241 Incorrectly Formed? In-depth Guide

June 12, 2024

Summary: In this technical article, we'll look at the best & effective solutions to resolve SQL Server error 3241. We'll explain what the error 3241 is and why it occurs. Also, you'll learn both manual and automatic techniques for fixing it. Let's dig in and solve the "SQL Server 3241 error the media family on device is incorrectly formed," error together.

What is Error Code 3241 in SQL Server?

The error code 3241 occurs when an SQL Server user tries to restore a database from a backup (.bak) file. This issue indicates that something went wrong with the SQL Server database and the user is unable to process the backup file. Here are several reasons why this occurs. Here are some significant ones- 

  1. Backup file corruption
  2. compatibility issues 
  3. Incorrect backup files
  4. Media damage
  5. SQL Server service permission
  6. Network issues
  7. Backup file encryption 

Apart from these, there are many other reasons for this error to occur. Now, the question arises - how you can fix this issue? So don't worry. In the upcoming section, we will discuss various solutions to accomplish the task. 

Solution 1: How to Fix Error 3241 in SQL Server? Manually 

In the following section, we discussed two Strategies for performing the task. Here’s how to execute the procedure.

Highlighted: Before restoring a backup file to recover SQL database, first you have to check the SQL Server version. If the backup you produced does not match the most recent SQL Server version, then you need to update the current SQL Server to the same or higher version.

#Strategy 1: 

Ensure that the SQL Backup Agent Service should have the necessary access permission to restore the SQL Server database from the backup (.bak) file. This will help you to fix Microsoft SQL Server error 3241 ("restore headeronly is terminating abnormally") error. 

#Strategy 2:

If the FTP Text Mode upload corrupted your backup file, you should upload the backup file using the FTP Binary Mode and restore the SQL .bak file.

These are two manual solutions that you can fix “MS SQL Server error code 3241 when restoring a database”. However, there is no guarantee that this manual solution will resolve the SQL error 3241 “The media family on device is incorrectly formed” or not. 

Solution 2 : Resolve Restore Headeronly is Terminating Abnormally SQL Server Error 3241 Using Automated Solution

SysTools SQL Backup Recovery Tool is a versatile solution that allows users to fix the “SQL Server cannot process this media family error” issue. This advanced utility allows users to repair corrupted SQL Server backup files without any modifications. Additionally, it provides an option to recover deleted SQL database table records with just a few simple clicks.

The best part of this software is that it doesn’t affect the data integrity and does not require downloading any other applications to perform the task. Moreover, the software is compatible with all SQL Server versions, including 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, and earlier versions.

Follow the Below Mentioned Steps Carefully to Resolve SQL Server Error 3241: 

Step 1. First of all, download and run the tool on your Windows machine.

Step 2. After that, click “Open” and then click Browse to upload the SQL Server backup (.bak) file.

Step 3. Next, specify the version of the SQL .bak file. If you are not sure about it, then select the "Auto Detect" option.

Step 4. Then, use the "Multiple Backup File" option to add and restore many SQL.bak files simultaneously. 

Step 5. After choosing the backup files, hit the "Recover" button to begin the recovery procedure.

Step 6. Once the recovery procedure is done, you will be able to examine all of the corruption-free files on the panel.

Step 7. Now, select the necessary items and hit the "Export" option to address the Microsoft SQL Server error 3241.

Step 8. Under the Export Options wizard, select "Export to SQL Server Database" or "SQL Server Compatible Scripts". 

Step 9. In the Select Destination Database option, decide whether you want to choose "Create a New Database" or "Export to Existing Database".

Step 10. Here, choose either "Export with schema" or "Export with schema & data" based on your needs. Finally, press the "Export" button.


In this blog, we shared the top methods to troubleshoot SQL Server error 3241 incorrectly formed both manually and using an automated solution. However, the manual methods may seem simple, but they have several drawbacks such as - lengthy, time-consuming, and complex processes. So, if you want a safe & secure solution to fix the SQL Server 3241 error the media family on device is incorrectly formed,  it is recommended to use an automated tool.  


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