Install SQL Server Express in 5 Easy Steps

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install sql express

SQL Express, a free and feature-limited variant of SQL Server has been around since the release of SQL Server 2005. 

Microsoft announced the launch of SQL Server 2022 Express edition. This version is a good fit for simple, data-driven desktop, mobile, and online apps. 

However, before using this edition, you should do a detailed comparison of the features of SQL Server 2022 Editions. For example, the Express editions do not support the SQL Server Agent capacity, and the database size cannot exceed 10 GB. 

As such, you should consider the features of all available versions before opting for the SQL Express Edition.

In this tutorial, we provide a comprehensive, step-by-step walkthrough for installing, testing, upgrading, and uninstalling SQL Server Express.

Table Of Contents

  1. The Installation Guide For SQL Express
    1. The Prerequisites
    2. Step #1: SQL Server Express Download
    3. Step #2: Start the Installation Process
    4. Step #3: Select the Type of Installation
    5. Step #4: Install SQL Server Express by Following the Screens
    6. Step #5: Verify the SQL Server Express Connection
  2. Uninstall SQL Server Express
  3. Conclusion
  4. FAQs

The Installation Guide For SQL Express

The installation and testing process for SQL Server Express has the following 5 steps.

The Prerequisites

Before trying out the following five steps, make sure you have the following:

  • A Windows 10 system
  • A user account with Administrator privileges

Step #1: SQL Server Express Download

Go to the official Microsoft website and select the SQL Server Express download page. Scroll down to locate SQL Server 2022 Express edition.

Start the download by clicking Download now.

SQL Server Express Download

Step #2: Start the Installation Process

Once the download finishes, locate the installation file by opening the download folder. Usually, this would be the default Downloads folder.

Start the installation process by executing the installer file:

Start the Installation Process

Step #3: Select the Type of Installation

Select the Type of Installation

The installer offers three types of installation. 

The Basic version of SQL Server Database Engine is the fastest and installs the default configuration setup.

The Custom version allows you to designate the installation location. You can also change which features are installed on your system. 

The Download mode uses a media installer that you can use to download the setup files for an offline installation. You can choose which version of the SQL Server Engine to download.

This guide uses custom installation. Click on the tile in the center to choose this option.

Select the custom Type of Installation

You will be asked to select the installation location. 

select location

Specify the install location and click Install to download the setup files.

download setup file on target location

Your download speed will impact how long this process takes.

install package downloading process

Step #4: Install SQL Server Express by Following the Screens

The SQL Server Installation Center opens up a wizard where you can make decisions about installing one or more tools that help you during the installation process and the later upkeep of your SQL server. 

To start the installation process, choose to add features to an existing installation or install a New SQL Server stand-alone.

Install SQL Server Express by Following the Screens

The following screen provides an overview of the SQL Express Server license terms. Click Next after checking the box labeled I accept the license terms and the privacy statement.

license terms and privacy statements

On the next screen, check the box labeled Use Microsoft Update to search for updates to ensure that SQL Server 2022 upgrades are included in the scheduled Windows updates. Click Next to proceed.

search for updates

The Install Rules screen helps detect installation issues. Before proceeding with the installation, fix any items with a Failed status. If there are no highlighted entries, click the Next button to proceed.

install rules screen

Select the SQL Server 2022 components to install by checking the boxes in the Features section and providing the install directories on the Feature Selection page. To proceed, click Next

feature selection

You can add a custom instance name or accept the default instance name on the Instance Configuration screen. We will opt for the Named instance option and stick with the suggested default names in this demonstration. To proceed, click Next.

instance configuration

On the Database Engine Configuration screen, choose the authentication mechanism for your SQL server. In this tutorial, we will add the current user as an administrator using the Mixed Mode option. To proceed, click Next

Database Engine Configuration

The installation progress is shown on the screen that follows.

installation progress

After installation, the new screen shows an overview of the installed features. To complete the installation, click Close.

sql server installation complete

Step #5: Verify the SQL Server Express Connection

After the installation, you should verify that you can connect to the SQL server. For this, you can opt for one of the following methods:

  • Use the Management Studio for SQL Server.
  • Use the command prompt.

We will now discuss these two methods. 

Test Server Connection Through Management Studio for SQL Server

The first step is downloading the SQL Server Management Studio. Scroll down to the Download SSMS section using the provided link.

download SSMS

Click Install after opening the installation file to begin the setup.

sql server management studio installation


Click Close to close the setup after it’s finished.

sql server management studio completion

Open Management Studio for SQL Server and select the SQL Server Authentication option in the login window. You will be asked to provide a username and a password.

Click Connect to make a connection to the server.

connect to sql server

If the login window closes without any issues and the SQL Server Management Studio main window appears, the connection is successful.

Test Server Connection Through the Command Prompt

The other option is to test the server connection using the Command Prompt. 

For this, launch the Command Prompt and enter the following commands:

> sqlcmd -S [computer name]\SQLEXPRESS

> select @@version

> go

select @@version

Uninstall SQL Server Express

Start by selecting Start > Settings > Apps and looking for the Microsoft SQL Server 2022 entry in the list.

Click Uninstall.

Uninstall SQL Server Express

In the Uninstall box, pick the Remove option.

uninstall box

Select the SQL server you want to remove from the drop-down menu. Click Next to continue.

select instance

Select the features you wish to remove. To ensure every feature has been removed, click the Select All option. Then, click Next to proceed.

select features

The following screen provides an overview of the features to be removed. To begin the removal process, click Remove.

ready to remove

To close the uninstall window after the removal process is finished, click Close.

remove completion


Setting up SQL Server Express is a simple procedure that enables users to rapidly assemble an effective database management system. Users who need a capable solution to save, manage, and retrieve data efficiently can easily install SQL Server Express on their machine by following the instructions in this installation guide. 

Because of its robust functionality and simplicity of installation, SQL Server Express is a great option for a wide range of business applications. SQL Server Express, suitable for individual projects, small enterprises, and development settings, offers a dependable and scalable database administration platform.

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Q. What installation options are available for SQL Server Express? 

SQL Server Express offers various installation types, including a basic installation method where default selections are made and a custom installation method with a feature selection screen. The installation wizard provides step-by-step guidance through the installation process.

Q. What components are included in SQL Server Express? 

SQL Server Express includes essential components such as the relational database engine, SQL engine, and database engine services. Additionally, it encompasses management tools, programming features, and server applications.

Q. How do I download SQL Server Express? 

To download SQL Server Express, visit the official Microsoft website and select your preferred edition and version. Follow the instructions provided in the installation package to initiate the download process.

Q. Can I configure Windows authentication during the SQL Server Express installation? 

Yes, during the installation process, users can configure authentication settings, including Windows authentication. This allows users to authenticate and access the server using their Windows credentials.

Q. Who is considered the server administrator during SQL Server Express installation? 

The server administrator is typically the user account with administrative privileges on the system where SQL Server Express is being installed. This account is responsible for managing and configuring the SQL Server instance.

Q. What is the installation wizard in SQL Server Express?

The installation wizard is a user interface tool that guides users through the installation steps of SQL Server Express. It helps users select installation types, configure settings, and complete the installation process smoothly.

Q. Does SQL Server Express support a replay feature? 

Yes, SQL Server Express supports features like the replay feature, which allows users to replay captured database activities for analysis or troubleshooting purposes.

Q. Are there programming features included in SQL Server Express? 

Yes, SQL Server Express includes various programming features and tools that developers can utilize to build and manage database applications efficiently.

Q. What is the default selection in SQL Server Express installation? 

The default selection refers to the preconfigured options chosen by the installation wizard if users opt for a basic installation method. These selections typically include default settings for installation type, features, and configurations.

Q. What are the steps involved in the basic installation method of SQL Server Express? 

The basic installation method involves selecting default options provided by the installation wizard, configuring minimal settings, and proceeding with the installation process.

Q. What makes SQL Server Express a lightweight version compared to other editions of SQL Server?

SQL Server Express is considered a lightweight version due to its smaller installation footprint and reduced resource requirements. It is designed to be a compact, easy-to-use database management solution suitable for small-scale applications and development environments. Despite its lightweight nature, SQL Server Express still offers essential features and functionality for building and managing databases.

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