How should I Install SQL Server 2008

There are two options for installing SQL Server 2008 Express.

1. Basic: Choose this option to install SQL Server Express with minimal effort by using the Web Platform Installer and a pre-defined defaults. Visit SQL Server Express download page to perform a basic install. 

The Microsoft Web Platform Installer will only perform an installation will all features with an Instance Name called “SQLExpress”. 

2. Customize: If you need to customize the installation or install on a Domain Controller, you can obtain SQL Server Express from the Microsoft Download Center.

Here are the Express editions available for manual download:

Express Package

If your system is? If your system is? If your system is?

Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express Edition with Service Pack 1




Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Tools




Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Advanced Services




Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Management Studio Express





More details on when I need to perform a customized installation

It is only necessary to perform a customize install under the following scenarios:

What if I want to customize the installation:

If you need to install differently than the defaults provided in option #1, you will need to perform a custom install. Here are the defaults that are used in option #1.

Option Description
Features Installs the Database Engine, Reporting Services, and Management Tools if available
INSTANCE NAME Installs a named instance called “SQLExpress”
Database Engine Service Account Configures the Database engine Service account to run under Network Service. This account is not supported on a Domain Controller, therefore it is necessary to perform an custom install on a Domain Controller.
Reporting Services Service Account Configures the Reporting Services Service account to run under Network Service, if available. This account is not supported on a Domain Controller, therefore it is necessary to perform an custom install on a Domain Controller.
SQL Server Database Admin Account Gives the user that installed SQL Server the ability to connect to the database engine.
ENABLE RANU Enabled User Instances


If you are upgrading from SQL Server 2000 or SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008 a custom/advanced installation is required.

For more information, see “How to identify your SQL Server version and edition”.

Specifying an Instance Name other than SQLEXPRESS

SQL Server 2008 Express uses the default instance name of “SQLEXPRESS”. Changing the instance name or installing additional instances requires a custom installation. You cannot change instance names once the installation is complete. There are several scenarios of when you would to provide your own instance 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.


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

Installation on a Domain Controller

If you would like to install SQL Server Express on a Domain Controller, you need to perform an advanced installation since the default account  (Network Service) specified by the Web Platform Installer is not supported on a Domain Controller.  See SQL Server support on a Domain Controller for more information.

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. A 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 ssNoVersion, 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 Analysis services and 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.

Comments (14)
  1. Iliya Tretyakov says:

    You should (must) add link on Tools without SQL Server engine !!!




  2. erlichmen says:

    FYI: I download the Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Advanced Services package on X64  on and got "file is corrupted" twice in the middle of the extraction process.

  3. quantm says:

    I get the same when I manually download Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Advanced Services package on X64  and am also getting "file is corrupted". I used Firefox to download it.

  4. IMIBO says:

    Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Advanced Services package on X64  

    Just downloaded and installed.. Everything is OK 😉

  5. rinemarie says:

    Downloaded Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 Express with Advanced Services package on X64  and am ALSO getting "file is corrupted". I also used Firefox to download it.

    Did this twice and not happy about churning up the bandwidth!

    Surely something is dodgy if multiple people are getting this error simply during the file extraction. It’s not like we are actually installing yet!

    I’m using Windows 7 but surely that shouldn’t make any difference.

    Surely browsers shouldn’t make a difference either… a binary is a binary. Once it is on your hard drive it should function the same.

    Yep, just downloaded another 559,607kb via IE and still get the "file is corrupted" error.

  6. ExGliderPilot says:

    I’m supplying staff bank agency software to a customer, (NHS) they were an early adopter of sql 2008 – and have a 2003 server (standard) with a 2000 instance and a 2008 rtm instance  I am looking for a link to a SP1 so I can upgrade them. I’ve tried the SP1 packages – repair left the version a 1600 (no errors) and upgade /  install does not give an option to apply sp (that I can find!)

  7. studmuffin says:

    I have tried to install 2005, 2008 can never get reporting services option. I have IIS 7 and all other configurations as stated in many MS articles I found.

  8. rajendra chauhan says:

    good your work.

    i most like this sity.

    i study in BCA.

  9. SK says:

    Please help

    Im using Windows 7Ultimate 32bit and I trying to install SQL Server 2008Express.I experiencing difficulties  when installing Setup Support Files it just stops there. What could be the problem?

    Studyng as a DB Developer

  10. bhoopendra sharma says:

    I am installing sql server 2008 r2 express edition. Set up has installed successfully but SQL Management Studio has not appear. Only three tool has installed…

    Sql server configuration manager, Sql server Error & Usage reporting and sql server installation center..

    What could be the problem?

    Visual Studio 2008 is already installed in my PC.


  11. Krzysztof Kozielczyk - MSFT says:

    @ SK and @ bhoopendra sharma

    The best way to find help with installation issues is to ask question on SQL Server Express Forum or SQL Server Setup & Upgrade Forum:…/threads…/threads

    – Krzysztof

  12. Nicole says:

    Anyone happen to know if SQL Server 2012 is supported?

  13. Shilpa says:

    I have installed sql server management studio 2008 on windows 7 from…/details.aspx

    I started service sqlserver2008 from services.msc

    But while connect (through connect to pop up) to database engine I cant see any Local servers its empty.

    Is sql server not installed whats issue ?? Thanks in advance

  14. Krzysztof Kozielczyk - MSFT says:

    @ Shilpa

    This kind of troubleshooting is very hard to pursue in blog comments. I suggest asking for help on the SQL Server Express or SQL Server Manageability Forums:…/threads…/threads


    – Krzysztof

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