Installing SQL Server 2014 Express Edition

Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Express Edition is a free, compact version of the popular enterprise database server. The Express Edition is ideal for database professionals who are seeking a desktop testing environment or for those learning about databases or SQL Server for the first time who need a platform they can install on a personal computer to create a learning environment.

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Determine Whether SQL Server 2014 Express Edition Meets Your Needs

installation center

 Mike Chapple

There are some limitations to SQL Server 2014 Express Edition that you should understand before deciding to install it. After all, this is a free version of what is otherwise an extremely powerful and costly database platform. These limitations include:

  • Installations can only make use of a maximum of four CPU cores, regardless of what is installed on the server.
  • Databases built with Express Edition are limited to 10GB in size.
  • Express Edition does not offer the database mirroring, log shipping or merge publication features offered in the larger product.
  • SQL Server Express Edition does not include Oracle replication functionality.

SQL Server 2014 Express Edition requires 4.2GB disk space, 4GB of RAM, Intel-compatible processor with 1 GHz or faster processor. Supported operating systems include Windows 10, 7 and 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012.

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Download the SQL Server Express Installer


Mike Chapple 

Download the appropriate installer file for the version of SQL Server 2014 Express Edition that best suits your operating system and needs. Visit the Microsoft download page and select whether you need a 32-bit or 64-bit version of SQL Server depending upon your operating system and then choose whether you want the version that includes the SQL Server tools. If you don’t already have the tools installed on your computer, include them in your download.

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File Extraction

Extracting SQL Server 2014 Express Edition

Mike Chapple 

The installer begins by asking you to confirm a directory where you want to extract the files required for the setup process. You can accept the default and click OK. During this process, which may take 5 to 10 minutes, you see the status window.

The extraction window disappears and nothing happens for a while. Wait patiently. Eventually, you'll see a message asking you if SQL Server 2014 may make changes to your computer. Answer yes. You then see a message reading "Please Wait While SQL Server 2014 Setup processes the current operation." Remain patient.

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SQL Server Express Installation Center

SQL Server 2014 Express Installation Center

 Mike Chapple

The SQL Server installer then opens the SQL Server Installation Center screen. Click the New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation link to continue the setup process. You see the "Please Wait While SQL Server 2014 Setup processes the current operation" message.

The next screen asks you to review and accept the Microsoft license agreement.

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Microsoft Update

Configuring Microsoft Update

Mike Chapple 

You are asked to decide whether you want to use Microsoft Update to automatically update SQL Server.  For security reasons, you should check this box and then click Next to continue.

SQL Server opens a series of windows that include a variety of preinstallation tests and install some required support files. None of these windows should require any action from you unless there is a problem with your system.

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Feature Selection


Mike Chapple 

The Feature Selection window that appears allows you to customize the SQL Server features that will be installed on your system. If you are planning to use this database in stand-alone mode for basic database testing, you do not need to install SQL Server Replication. This window also allows you to choose not to install management tools or the connectivity SDK if they are not needed on your system. In this basic example, the default values are accepted. Click the Next button to continue.

SQL Server performs a series of checks labeled "Installation Rules" in the setup process and automatically advances to the next screen if there are no errors. You can accept the default values on the Instance Configuration screen and click the Next button again.

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Instance Configuration


Mike Chapple 

The Instance Configuration screen allows you to choose whether you want to create a default instance or a separate named instance of SQL Server 2014 on this computer. Unless you have multiple copies of SQL Server running on your computer, you should accept the default values.

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Server Configuration


Mike Chapple 

After confirming that you have the necessary disk space on your system to complete the installation, the installer presents the Server Configuration window. You use this screen to customize the accounts that will run the SQL Server services.

Otherwise, click the Next button to accept the default values and continue. You may also accept the default values on the Database Engine Configuration and Error Reporting screens that follow.

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Database Engine Configuration


Mike Chapple 

On the Database Engine Configuration screen, you are asked to choose the database engine authentication mode. Choose the option appropriate for your computing environment and click Next to continue.

If you are not sure which option to choose, read Choosing a SQL Server Authentication Mode for more information.

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Completing the Installation


Mike Chapple 

The installer begins the installation process. This may take up to 30 minutes depending on the features you selected and the characteristics of the server.