How to Read or View SQL Transaction Logs without Software

SQL Transaction Logs are considered to be the nucleus of any database. All the operations that the database undergoes at every step are first saved in the transaction logs and only then executed. The transaction log files are stored in the LDF file format. The data in these logs are stored in a way that a novice user cannot interpret. Besides, it requires either a technical person or a SQL Transaction log Reader Utility to read or view SQL Transaction Logs. 

If you are having any issues in viewing or understanding the SQL transaction log files, then bear with us till the end while all your queries are resolved. Meanwhile, let us acknowledge the reasons that make it essential to read or view the SQL transaction logs.

What is the Use of Transaction Log in SQL Server? 

SQL Server Database Transaction Log files comprise all the records that are made in the database. The reasons mentioned below specify the need to view SQL transaction logs.

  • Recovery

The transactions at each step in the database are stored in the transaction log files. So, it makes the transaction log files of the SQL server very crucial for the recovery process. In case of any database loss or deletion, these transaction log files are used to recover the data.

  • Auditing and Forensics

SQL Transaction Logs do not remove or delete the records even after the process is complete in the database. It allows evolving the role for future auditing purposes. The users can see the process in the log files after the event has been completed. 

  • Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting any issue is the fundamental solution that every user undertakes to resolve the problem. The SQL Transaction Logs acts as the troubleshooters for the users and solves their problems. You can read and read SQL transaction file to understand the issues that your database has undergone.

  • Backup

The SQL Server Database Transaction Log File acts as a backup to the database. Every single bit of data is saved into the transaction logs and is available to access at any instance. 

Now, as we have discussed the reasons to access & read SQL Transactions Logs. Let us go through the methods to read SQL Log files without software. 

How to View or Read SQL Transaction Logs?

The SQL Transaction Logs are stored in a format that is not readable by any user. Moreover, there are no direct methods to read LDF files. The following methods use some undocumented functions to read the log files.  

  1. fn_dblog Function
  2. fn_dump_dblog() Function

Methods to Access SQL Transaction Logs

  •  fn_dblog Function

The fn_dblog function is a table value function that allows you to view the entries in an online transaction log. This method accepts two parameters, i.e., Start LSN (Log Sequence Number) and End LSN. 

To view all available entries, NULL can be passed for both parameters and, all the records or entries in the active portion of the online log will be displayed. This undocumented function can be implemented by the below command.


It will allow the user to read and view the SQL Transaction Logs. However, it requires an expert user to execute this method effectively.

  • fn_dump_dblog() Function

This is also an undocumented method. In this method, it is required to specify all the parameters for the execution of the statement. Enter the following command to apply the function.

SELECT  * FROM fn_dump_dblog(NULL,NULL,’DISK’,1

,’D:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL11.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\Backup\AdventureWorks2012.bak’








Both the methods need professional users to execute the task entirely in the SQL Server Database. Furthermore, these methods have some limitations as they can only work for the active or online transaction logs. It is also time-consuming and requires technical expertise.

To tackle all these problems, an expert solution, i.e. SQL Log Analyzer, can be used to read or view SQL Transactions files. It is a professional tool and saves a lot of time in the process. You can also restore the database from the MDF and LDF files using this tool. Furthermore, no technical expertise is required to operate this tool, as any novice user can easily use it.


The SQL Transaction Logs are essential for the SQL Server Database in many aspects. These log files require advanced users to analyze and execute operations on them. The methods to read and view SQL transaction logs are explained in this blog for proper execution. These methods are not suitable for non-technical users. Therefore, an alternate solution, i.e., a third-party LDF file viewer tool, can be used for viewing the log files with ease. 

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About The Author:

Mithilesh Tata is a technical expert who has assisted thousands of clients with Microsoft Outlook and other cloud-based email clients. He enjoys writing on email clients backup as well as email migration. He is always excited about giving troubled readers the most up-to-date knowledge, explanation, and user-friendly solutions.

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