Like thousands of developers, I eagerly downloaded SQL
Server 2005 Express Edition
mere moments after receiving an e-mail from Microsoft.
Unfortunately, after installing it on my development box, I realized that I had
a mess on my hands. Hopefully, by sharing my experience with SQL Express, I may
shed some light on what other developers might be going through with this
installation. (Note: This article is not
a panacea. I have yet to figure out the myriad of things that went wrong with
my installation. I suggest that you take every possible care to recover from your

First, I’ll outline the particulars of my setup:

  • My dev
    box runs Windows 2003 Server, with all patches dutifully applied.
  • The
    SQL installation thereupon has all the patches dutifully applied.
  • My
    installation is Custom, since I do not like to place programs and data
    upon the same drive. I have several drives, but the case in point uses c:\
    as the programs drive and f:\ as the data drive. (It’s an old habit
    acquired from the days of DOS—programs on one drive, data on another.)

A rundown of the course of events

    1. I
      install SQL Server 2005 Express Edition.
    2. Everything
      fails: the old stuff (my rock-solid working installation of SQL 2000 with
      a dozen databases) and the new stuff.
    3. I
      un-install SQL Express and reboot.
    4. My
      attempt to run SQL 2000 fails.
    5. I
      un-install SQL 2000 (along with Analysis Services and English Query) and
    6. I
      re-install SQL 2000 on Windows Server 2003 and immediately get this
      message “does not support — you must install SP3.”
    7. I
      install SP3 and reboot.
    8. SQL
      2000 is running successfully! But to guarantee the safety of my existing
      databases, I choose a new directory as the base data directory.
    9. I
      copy several MDF files from the previous directory to the new directory,
      and then I run “sp_attach_single_file_db”
      against each one in succession. (If you don’t know what this means, open
      BOL and search for that procedure name.)
    10. The
      newly installed instance of SQL 2000 recognizes the newly attached
      databases and I was back in business.
    11. I
      install SQL Express on a box that passes the minimum hardware and
      software requirements but contains no previous SQL installation and nothing
      of consequence.
    12. Success!
      Everything is once again intact, and SQL Express has her own sandbox in
      which to play, which risks nothing I cherish.

My suggestions for installing SQL Express

This was not fun. If you plan on installing SQL Express
betas, do not install it on a box
whose databases matter. And before installing it, I strongly advise you to back
up everything concerning SQL Server 2000 that you consider even vaguely
important. I also think it would be wise to do all of this on a weekend, since
you may need the extra time to recover.

If you’ve installed SQL Express, I’d love to hear about your
experience, so please relay your thoughts on the process in the article

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