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How to Install and Configure SQL Server Express 2017 on Windows Server 2016

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If you are going to be hosting an ASP.NET website on a Hostwinds VPS or Dedicated Server, you will likely want your web application to connect to a SQL Server database on the back end. SQL Server Express is a great entry-level edition for small-scale applications but does have limitations:

  1. Maximum amount of 1 GB memory usage for the database engine
  2. 10 GB maximum size of any relational database
  3. A buffer size of 1 MB.

If you require more features from SQL Server, you may want to consider purchasing a MSSQL Server license.

Download and Install SQL Server Express

The first step is to log in to your Hostwinds Windows server, open up the web browser application, and navigate to Microsoft’s website to initiate the download. We will be using Google Chrome for the purposes of this demonstration.

Click the Download now button to start the download.

When it is finished downloading, navigate to the executable file and double-click to start the SQL Server installer. For the purposes of this demonstration, we will be walking through the Custom installation. Please proceed through the installer, making sure to select Custom when it appears.

After a few moments, a new window will appear asking you what you would like to install.

Select New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation.

On the next window, read through the License Terms and accept them to continue. SQL server will then go through a few checks. You will likely get a firewall warning asking you to make sure the appropriate ports are open for SQL Server. The default port for a SQL Server instance is TCP port 1433 for routine connections. You can read up on how to modify your Windows Firewall here, and how to edit your Hostwinds cloud firewall here

The next screen will ask you what features you would like to install. The default suite will work for our purposes.

The next screen is the instance configuration. You can select Named instance to name your instance whatever you need, and be sure to create a unique instance ID. Please bear in mind that the instance name will not accept numbers. Click Next.

On the next screen, the important part is to set the SQL Server Database Engine account name and password. You can set the account name to a certain user on the server by clicking the dropdown arrow and select <<Browse…>>

On the new window, click Advanced… then Find Now, and then select the user you would like to set as a system administrator.

Click Next

After this, you will be asked to accept the terms of use for both Python and R if you selected them during the feature selection stage. 

The last step is to allow SQL Server to finish installing. This can take a while, so patience will be key. Once finished, you will get a success message and SQL Server Express will be installed.

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