Data Management

A free fully functional database is yours with Microsoft's SQL Server Express

System check

This gallery is also available as a TechRepublic article.

With the release of SQL Server 2005 Express Edition and the Community Technical Preview release of SQL Server Management Studio Express, Microsoft has released a fully functional database system free of charge. There are, of course, limitations to both of these systems, but they offer a perfect jumping-on point for either those wishing to learn the basics of SQL Server or those who need a small-scale database that offers a clear upgrade path as the database expands.

SQL Server 2005 Express Edition does have requirements and limitations. Its requirements are fairly light:

  • Windows 2000 Service Pack 4; Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1; Windows XP Service Pack 2
  • Computer with Intel or compatible Pentium III 600 MHz or faster processor (1 GHz or faster is recommended.)
  • Minimum of 192 MB of RAM (512 MB or more is recommended.)
  • 525 MB of available hard disk space
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0


The limitations of each application are what make them free when compared to the other versions of SQL Server 2005.

  • Limited to 1 CPU
  • Can only use 1 GB of RAM
  • Limited a Maximum Database size of 4GB
  • Log Shipping is not supported
  • Full-Text Search is not an option
  • SQL Server Agent Scheduling service is not available


Also, several higher end features, such as the Tuning Advisor and Failover Clustering, are only available in Standard or Enterprise Edition, not in the Express or the Workgroup Edition. Also, the enterprise management tools are not included with SQL Express, but SQL Server Management Studio Express is available.

The installation is fairly straight forward. Download the installer here. Once the system installs needed components it will check to make sure you meet the necessary requirements.

This screen will tell you if you meet the requirements. If you do not meet them, the Report button will give you details on how to complete the steps necessary for the installation to continue.