I have been asked this question many times – Is there a way to restore a SQL Server 2008 backup in SQL Server 2005. The plain answer is No. But there are workarounds.
The best option I know how to do this is to use the ‘Generate SQL Server Scripts’ Wizard. To do so, open SQL Server 2008 Management Studio > Databases > Right click Your Database > Tasks > Generate Scripts
Here’s a screenshot from my test machine:
A wizard appears. Follow the wizard and in the ‘Choose Script Options’, set the ‘Script for Server Version’ to ‘SQL Server 2005’ and set ‘Script Data’ to ‘True’
Now complete the wizard by saving the script and you should now have a script that can be restored in SQL Server 2005.
There’s also a tool called SQL Data Compare from RedGate that can be useful in this scenario.