Did you know you can perform an in-place upgrade from SQL Express to SQL Server?
As you can imagine, we’ve seen a lot here at Fpweb.net. Over SharePoint’s 15-plus years, we’ve found solutions that fit for countless SharePoint farms, many different architectures, and many different issues.
One of our popular hosting plans is called the SharePoint Server Pro. It’s a single server environment with Active Directory, SQL Express, and SharePoint installed. The Content Database(s) for the Web Application(s) are placed on a shared SQL Back-end Cluster, while all other databases are placed on the local SQL Express instance. Other than content, the three most popular databases are: Configuration, Admin Content, and Search.
As most of us know already, SQL Express is Microsoft’s free version of SQL, and with that comes quite a few limitations. In SQL Server Express 2008 R2, the maximum database size is 10GB, while the maximum amount of RAM it can utilize is only 1GB.
This plan works great for many small businesses since it gives them the [limited] access to SQL they need to develop solutions for their SharePoint farm without having to spend additional money for SQL Standard licensing.
It’s all well and good, until you need MORE!
So, what happens when you want to upgrade your plan to our SharePoint Server Pro Plus? This plan consists of Active Directory, SQL Server Standard (or Enterprise), and SharePoint all on a single server. (A great entry level plan that is cost effective for many SMB customers.)
It’s time to perform an in-place upgrade from SQL Express to SQL Server:
- You will need the installation media for the version you want to upgrade to. In this example, we are upgrading from SQL Server 2008 Express to SQL Server 2008 Standard.
- Make sure you have the installation media on the local server itself or an accessible location.
- The recommendation method to run the following command is from your Windows Command Prompt. Browse to Start > Run > type “CMD” > OK.
- This will display a command line window. Point the Command Prompt to the installation folder determined in step 2. In this example, the installation media was mounted to our DVD drive in a virtual environment. Drive letter Z:.
- Run the following command from the Command Prompt. This will kick off the upgrade process:
Z:\>setup /ACTION=editionupgrade /INSTANCENAME=SQLEXPRESS /PID=XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX
*Please note: When SQL Express was installed, we used the default instance name of “sqlexpress”.
Please update command accordingly. Replace the PID (Product Key) with your product key.
- You will now see the SQL Server 2008 Setup screen. On the Installation Type section, ensure you select the radio button next to Add features to an existing instance of SQL Server 2008 and select the appropriate instance. Again, this is SQLEXPRESS in our example:
- Select the defaults for all other sections.
That is essentially it!
The upgrade process doesn’t take long at all, and if you’ve ever installed SQL, you know the initial installation can take quite a while. This process took approximately four to five minutes.
The one caveat to this method is the instance name. We are still required to use “ServerName\sqlexpress” when connecting to SQL. It is important to make note that, although the instance name says “sqlexpress”, that it is indeed a full version of SQL.
We hope this helps you in the future. This saved us the headache of having to uninstall SQL Express and install SQL Standard, limiting the downtown of a customer significantly. Please comment below with any questions.