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Refresh Database Content without reinstalling the database or Kernel for ABAP systems

Classic “Refresh or Move DB Instance” vs. New “Refresh DB Content”

Customer Situation:

Customers may need to setup a new system with existing DB content. This can be necessary when you want to create a test system or you want to refresh a system that has been corrupted with an existing proper backup.

The Software Provision Manager offers two slightly different ways to do this. In this blog I want to introduce those two functionalities and to show the differences.


It is possible to use the system copy procedure to export / import the DB content but this will install a new DB instance using the installation media. This option is called: “Refresh or Move Database Instance

In many cases, it is better to refresh a system without having to install a new DB instance but only replace the DB content in an existing ABAP schema.

This new option is called “Refresh Database Content”

Background / Motivation

Customers should be able to refresh the DB content of an existing system as fast as possible.

The new process is faster, since the new DB instance does not need to be installed every time the DB content gets refreshed. It is also faster because the Kernel media and RDBMS media is not needed for that scenario. TCO is reduced, due to a minimal downtime of the system.

However, moving the refreshed system to another host is not possible with the new functionality. For this scenario, the classic option is still available.

Description: Classic “Refresh or Move DB Instance”

  • Using the DB content on the same host it is called “Refresh”
  • Using a different host to refresh the DB content it is called “Move”

-> Installation media is required and DB backup or migration export

-> New Kernel is needed (from media): download new Kernel media = time consuming

-> Database media (RDBMS server and client software) is needed = time consuming

-> New DB instance is installed = time consuming

Result: System refresh with existing DB content on the same or different host and new DB Instance

Description: New “Refresh DB Content”

  • Refresh the database content on the same host only

-> No installation media is required, only DB backup or migration export

-> No new DB instance is installed, only DB content is replaced, this is faster as option “Refresh or Move DB Instance”

Result: System refresh with existing DB content on the same host on the existing DB Instance


For additional Information please see also: -> System Provisioning -> System Copy Option ->  Guide for Systems Based on SAP NetWeaver 7.1 & Higher

Section “Copying Single Instances Only -> Copying the Database Only – Refresh Database Content”:

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  • Couple of questions regarding this.

    • Is this only for MaxDB?
    • Refresh Database Content is refreshing transaction and master data in system?



  • Hello Yogesh,

    thank you for the questions.

    In fact this functionality is available for all DBs except MaxDB (I had a wrong screenshot in the Blog). 

    Yes, it will refresh the complete Database schema including transaction and master data.

    Best Regards


  • Hello Stefan,

    this looks like a good development, however I do have a quick thing: it seems when using this function (or even when using the original): it seems it requires a file based backup. This basically makes both options irrelevant for a lot of customers executing point-in-time refreshes.

    When executing either the “Refresh database content” or the “Refresh or Move database instance” I get at a certain point the following screen:

    As far as I can see there is no way around this which would make restores from backup/restores tools impossible.

    Did I miss something?

    Kind regards,


  • Hello Bart,

    in fact, if you want to create a complete system refresh, you need a consistent status of the system at a certain point in time. For the Software Provisioning Manager, this is done by a full DB backup or a migration export.

    However, other tools from 3rd Party vendors may have their own solution to create a system refresh.

    Best Regards

    Stefan Jakobi, Product Management CLM


  • Great article. I was reading the system copy guide. We want to refresh our QAS system with PRO and I was thinking to do it with the new option “Refresh Database Content” as we only need to refresh our ASE database on our distributed system. Is this option going to work? Can we change the schema from pro to qas with this?

  • Hello Miguel,

    thanks for the question.

    There are two options with the “Refresh Database Content” scenario.

    Option 1 is Backup/Restore based, Option 2 is Load based. When using option 2 (load based) you can change the schema from pro to qas.

    Best Regards


  • Hi,

    really desperate trying for hours this new option.(It seems that i don’t have available in the menu the “old” option) I keep getting the attached error, and didn’t found anything online about this.

    What do you think?

  • Hello Paul,

    sorry that you face this problem.

    For that case please open an SAP Support ticket so we can analyze the error and solve the issue or transfer the issue to the right team inside SAP.

    Thanks and best regards

    Stefan Jakobi

    Product Management CLM

  • Hi Stefen ,

    Thanks for wonderful blog,

    Our customer want to refresh data of ERP Sandbox system from ERP Production. Production SID (PXX) is different from Sandbox SID (SBX)

    In system copy guide Chapter “6.41. Copying the Database Only – Refresh Database Content on MS SQL Server”, there are three options as mentioned below.

    Please advise which option will be suitable for my requirement.

    1. Using the SAP Standard Method. (Export and Refresh DB Content)
    2. Procedure Using Database Backups
    3. Procedure With Copying the Database Device Files of the SAP database

    Please Refer page 116-117 from system copy guide

    Your agile response is highly appreciated.

    Abuzar Ehteshamuddin

  • Hello Stefan Jakobi
    I already have a copy environment of ECC production, last refresh was made in 2016 called BUBBLE.

    I only wish to realize refresh of the database, copy of the productive environment base.

    my question is, in this option of “refresh or move database instance” it will reinstall my sap system already installed losing the sidadm etc …

    sidadm and sidDB bubble – BSE
    sid ECC production – EEP

    thank you so much


  • Hello Mr. Piati,

    with the option “Refresh DB Content” your system environment of the “Bubble” system will remain the same, only the DB content will be replaced.

    If you want to reset the complete system, you can use the classic option: “Refresh or Move DB Instance”.

    Best Regards
    Stefan Jakobi
    CLM Product Management


  • Hi, Stefan

    Previously, export/import procedure is used by database team to redistribute data into datafiles. New datafiles may be added due to some needs.

    I want to know  is it ok to use “Refresh DB Content” to do it?–export the database, and import again to the same place, just with some new datafiles added.


    If the database is already existing, could SWPM  ask for the datafile locations and datafile numbers? If no, should I do as belows?

    1, firstly export.

    2, delete the database,

    3, refresh the DB content by import and define how many datafiles will be created and where are their location.


    Best regards,



    • Hello Cherry,

      >>I want to know  is it ok to use “Refresh DB Content” to do it?–export the database, and import again to the same place, just with some new datafiles added.

      It depends on the database that you want to refresh but in general that should be possible.

      If it is not possible from SWPM you could create and distribute the datafiles after the refresh with DB tools.

      As for the second part, for SAP standard method R3load (to be more precise):

      With the Option: “Refresh Database Content”, the DB Instance itself is not newly installed. But the target DB is dropped and re-created and the content from the R3Load-export is imported.If you delete the database, you cannot import anymore.

      Best Regards
      Stefan Jakobi
      Product Management CLM
  • Hi Stefan,

    Thanks for this helpful blog. I have some questions on this process. When using the SAP method (export/import) to refresh the ‘database content only’, would it allow  to use the export dump from source (using R3load) in the target system when using Generic option> Refresh database content only? It seems like in the target system, we must use the database backup from the source system when using this option correct? If so, can you please provide some steps/document on handling database backup for SWPM in target system.



  • Hello Dipendra,

    The database you import when using the “refresh DB content” expects basically the export from the same system source.

    Example: You made a system copy from a DEV system to a Test System. From time to time you want to refresh the content in the Test system and make a “refresh DB content” with the data from the DEV system. This will work because both systems have the same source.

    If you have other systems in your landscape with totally different origin, you cannot refresh the Test System with “refresh content only” because the source is different. In that case you need to use the classic “move database instance” option.

    Please use the documentation mentioned in the Blog. Also, the procedure in SWPM is a step by step approach and should be self explaining.

    Best Regards
    Stefan Jakobi
    Product Management CLM


    • Hi Stefan, can you clarify this a  bit. What do you mean by ‘same source’ . Generally all SAP persistence is in database (yes there is kernel on Filesystem). So a ‘refresh DB content’ should work for any database to any database right? Ofcourse a customer would not like to do this on a ECC test system with a backup from a BW prod system. The customer has to do this logical check but theoretically, you could use refresh DB content do do any database to any database refresh (as long as the target DB is already setup).. Only if you want to ‘install or setup’  a new db instance for a new SAP system, the classic approach would be necessary. Please confirm this understanding

      • Hello,

        yes, system refresh will also work across db, as long as source and target system are of the same origin.

        Strictly speaking “same origin” means that the target system was created from a system copy. That was the initial idea when offering this option.

        Many other potential scenarios as you describe might work as well but were not tested and can therefor only be done at your own risk.

        Best Regards
        Stefan Jakobi
        Product Management CLM
  • Hi Stefan

    Thanks for this helpful blog. We are going to migrate an ERP 6.07 environment with oracle 11g to new server with oracle 12c. We have already done the first system copy successfully with all the necessary configurations, now, to reduce time during the final migration it is possible to perform a “Refresh Database Content”?

    Thank you

    Best Regards


  • Hello Willmer,

    as the new system comes from a system copy, it should be possible to refresh this system with a “Refresh Database Content” from the original system.

    Best Regards
    Stefan Jakobi
    Product Management CLM


    • Hi Stefan

      The doubt that I have is that in the origin server has oracle 11g and the server destination oracle 12c and when using the “refresh database content”  the implicit oracle upgrade to 12c is maintained (using export/import)

      Thank you


      Best Regards


  • Hello Willmer,

    if you do a Oracle update from 11g to 12c, only db files are updated, the content of the SAP system inside the db does not change.

    So an unload of the db content from SAP with R3load in the 11g system should fit into the new db with version 12c.

    Best Regards

    Stefan Jakobi

    Product Management CLM
  • Hello Stefan,

    The source system is oracle rac asm and the target system is oracle single instance file system.

    Is it possible to refresh the backup of the source system to the target system by The Software Provision Manager?

    If not , is there any other way?


    • Hello Yu,

      sorry for the late reply.

      I have a question to your comment: Do you have one system running on Oracle RAC ASM and you want to migrate it to Oracle single instance?

      Or do you have two systems and you want to refresh one system with the content from the other system?

      In the second case this should be possible. You can refresh your system with the corresponding Backup based option in Software Provisioning Manager. Important information on how to restore the backup is described in SAP note 1844380 subsection 18 with BR*TOOLS .

      Please note that you need some Oracle knowledge and make sure that you test this prior to use it on your productive system.

      Best Regards
      Stefan Jakobi
      Product Management CLM
  • Hello Nakato,

    I think this should work.

    The Microsoft Failover Cluster should not have an impact on the loading of the data in the database.

    Best Regards

    Stefan Jakobi
    Product Management, SAP SE