Using unbind to downgrade bound R Server 9.1.0


One of my customers recently had a situation that they upgraded their Microsoft R Server to the latest version 9.1.0, and bound it to SQL Server 2016. Then they want to downgrade to SQL Server 2016 built-in MS R version 8.0.3. According to the document - https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/advanced-analytics/r/use-sqlbindr-exe-to-upgrade-an-instance-of-sql-server, you can surely upgrade it, but how do we downgrade. Here is what I tested in my lab step by step:

Current environment: SQL Server 2016 SP1 CU3 + Microsoft R Server 9.1.0 (bound)
Goal: downgrade R server 9.1.0 to lower version, which is 8.0.3 (the built-in MSR version in SQL Server 2016 SP1) in this test

1. Unbind the R Server 9.1.0 with the SQL Server instance

cd “C:\Program Files\Microsoft\R Server\Setup”
sqlbindr.exe /list
sqlbindr.exe /unbind mssql13.mssqlserver

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2. If I run the R validation script in SSMS, it failed as expected as the R Server is unbound with SQL Server instance.

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3. Since unbinding removes all versions of MRS on the instance, users need to run SQL Setup repair to restore MRS on the instance.

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4. During the SQL repair, the SQL Server instance will be restarted, so it requires downtime. Once the repair completes, now you have the SQL Server 2016 SP1 build-in R 8.0.3 back.

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PG put a lot of effort to make the process easier, that is it! Hope this helps in case you are having similar issue.
Next time, I will put together a blog for how to in-place upgrade SQL Server 2012/2014 to SQL 2016 with R Services.

~heweng

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