Summary: This article is for end users to determine appropriate options for installing SQL Server 2008 R2 Express and guidance on when customizing the installation may be necessary.

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There are multiple installation packages available for SQL Server Express, ranging from a minimal installation containing only the database engine to a full installation containing all optional components of the Express package. In order to decide which installation package is right for you, this article provide guidance on:

  • Features contained in each package
  • Download locations
  • Prerequisite software
  • Common installation scenarios

Installation Packages

All installation packages for SQL Server 2008R2 Express are available for download from the Microsoft download center, and are available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Each package and the features it contains are described below.

Database Only: This package installs only the SQL Server database engine and should be used if you only require data storage. For example, if you are using an application that requires SQL Server Express and does not specify that it requires additional functionality such as Full-Text Search ( or Reporting Services (,) you would select this package.

Database with Management Tools: This package installs the SQL Server database engine as well as the SQL Server Management Studio Express (,) and should be used if you require data storage and the ability to manage SQL Server and your databases from a graphical interface.

Database with Advanced Services: This package installs the SQL Server database engine, SQL Server Management Studio Express, the ability to run Full-Text Search ( queries against the database, and the ability to generate reports from the database using Reporting Services (

Management Tools: Installs SQL Server Management Studio Express only. This option is useful if you have previously installed a package that did not include Management Studio, or if you wish to install the Management Studio on a separate computer from SQL Server 2008R2 Express and manage another SQL Server Express installation remotely.

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Download Locations

All installation packages for SQL Server 2008R2 Express are available for download from the Microsoft download center, and are available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The installation packages can be downloaded from the following locations:

Installation Package Download Location
Database Only

Database and Management Tools

Database with Advanced Services

Management Tools

Note: The download page may prompt for registration before presenting the link to download the installation package.

Note: The download page contains links to both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the package; please read the information presented on the download page and select the appropriate version for your system.

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Installation Scenarios


During setup, checks are performed to ensure that you have the necessary hardware and software required to successfully install SQL Server 2008R2 Express. If you are missing required software, you will be presented with a dialog box stating what is missing and a link that can be used to download the missing software.

However if you are planning on installing SQL Server Express on multiple computers, you may wish to download and install all prerequisite software and manually install it on all target computers.


  • 32-bit systems
    • Computer with Intel or compatible 1GHz or faster processor (2 GHz or faster is recommended.)
  • 64-bit systems
    • 1.4 GHz or faster processor
  • Minimum of 512 MB of RAM (2 GB or more is recommended.)
  • 2.2 GB of available hard disk space


  • Supported Operating Systems: Windows 7; Windows Server 2003; Windows Server 2008; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Vista; Windows XP
  • Microsoft Windows Installer 4.5 or later (
  • .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 (
  • Windows PowerShell 1.0 (

New Installation

To install a new installation of SQL Server 2008R2 Express, launch the installation package obtained from the download center and select New installation or add features to an existing installation from the SQL Server Installation Center.

During the installation, you will be presented with several choices that allow you to customize how SQL Server Express is installed. Default values will already be selected for all choices presented, and you can simply select Next to continue installation. Information on common customizations to the SQL Server Express process are described after the Upgrading information below.


If you are upgrading from SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008 to SQL Server 2008R2, launch the installation package and select Upgrade from SQL Server 2000, SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008 in the SQL Server Installation Center.

For more information, see “How to Identify Your SQL Server Version and Edition” (

Specifying an Instance Name other than SQLEXPRESS

SQL Server Express supports the concept of instancing, which allows multiple copies of SQL Server to be running simultaneously on your system. Each instance must have a unique name. By default, SQL Server 2008R2 Express uses the instance name of “SQLEXPRESS”; however there are several scenarios that may require you to provide a different name:

  • The default instance name has already been used (installing multiple instances)
  • Your environment (application or standards) requires the use of an alternate instance name. For example, you may use instance names to segment groups or organizations within the company, i.e. Sales, Operation, Finance, etc.
  • You want to provide a higher level of abstraction from the underlying database software.

    NOTE: You cannot change instance names once the installation is complete.


    If you develop software applications that embed SQL Server 2008R2 Express, custom installations are typically required. For more information, see How to Embed SQL Server Express in an Application (

    Further Setup Customization

    Some SQL Server configuration settings can only be set during install. Once the installation is complete, you cannot change these settings. Any change to the configuration settings would require a new installation of the product. Some settings directly impact how data is stored and organized so changing the configuration setting would require significant data manipulation work in order to preserve the data.

    Setting the non-Default Collation

    Collations effect how characters (data) for a language or alphabet are recognized and sorted. The majority of SQL Server installations use the default collation. There are some situations where the use of a collation other than the default collation setting would be required.

    • Select a BINARY2 collation if binary code point based ordering is acceptable.
    • Select a Windows collation for consistent comparison across data types.
    • Use new 100 level collation for better linguistic sorting support. For more information, see Collation and Unicode Support (
    • If you plan to migrate a database to the upgraded instance of SQL Server Express, select the collation that matches your existing collation of the database.

    For more information, see Collation Settings in Setup (

    Enabling Filestream

    The Filestream configuration setting specifies where to store unstructured data such as text documents, images or videos. You can store this unstructured data inside the database or outside the database in the NTFS files system. The default setting is to store the data inside the database. Storing outside the database can cause data management complexities. You should consider enabling FILESTREAM if:

    • Objects being stored are, on average, larger than 1 MB.
    • Fast read access is important.
    • You are developing applications that use a middle tier for application logic.

    For smaller objects, storing unstructured data in the database often provides better streaming performance.

    For more information, see FILESTREAM Overview ( and FILESTREAM Storage in SQL Server 2008 (

    Enabling Error Reporting

    Enabling the Error Reporting setting allows you to report Windows and SQL Server errors to Microsoft via the internet. Microsoft uses these error reports to improve future releases of SQL Server. Error reports contain only technical data. All error reports are confidential and anonymous.

    Customizing Installation Directories

    Installation directories are unique folder locations used for placement of:

    • Program software
    • System database
    • User databases and logs
    • Temp DB and log
    • Backups

    During installation, you have the option to changing the default directories for some or all of the folders. Business requirements or environmental factors may dictate specifying directories other than the default.

    Configuring SQL Server Service Accounts

    SQL Server includes many services ranging from tools such as SQL Server Browser service to major product components such as Reporting services. During installation, you can specify which services to install and the account in which they run under. By default, most SQL Server services run under the Network Service account during initial setup. For better manageability and a more secure environment, it is recommended you:

    • Use separate accounts for each SQL Server service.
    • Configure service accounts to use the lowest possible permissions. This can reduce surface area for attacks.
    • Associate SQL Server services with low privileged Windows local user accounts, or domain user accounts.

    For more information, see Setting Up Windows Service Accounts (

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    For more information: SQL Server Web site SQL Server TechCenter SQL Server DevCenter

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