Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Express Edition is a free, compact version of the popular enterprise database server. The Express Edition is ideal for database professionals who need a desktop testing environment, or for beginning database or SQL Server students who need a platform that they can install on a PC to create a learning environment.
- Determine if SQL Server 2012 Express Edition fits your needs
- Download the SQL Server Express Installer
- File Extraction
- Installation Center for SQL Server Express
- Function selection
- Instance Configuration
- Server Configuration
- Complete the installation
Determine if SQL Server 2012 Express Edition fits your needs
There are some limitations to SQL Server 2012 Express Edition that you should understand before you decide to install them. After all, this is a free version of an extremely powerful (and extremely expensive) database platform. These restrictions include:
Installations can only use one processor with up to four cores.
Installations can only use 1 GB of RAM, regardless of the amount of memory installed.
Databases created with the Express Edition are limited to 10 GB.
The Express Edition does not provide the database mirroring, log submission, or publishing merging features offered in the larger product.
SQL Server Express Edition does not include Oracle replication features.
The tools available in the Express Edition are limited – the installer does not include the Database Tuning Assistant, SQL Agent, or SQL Profiler.
Remark † This guide focuses on SQL Server 2012 Express Edition. See Installing SQL Server 2014 Express Edition for the 2014 release. If you are looking for an alternative database that is free and fully functional, you can install MySQL instead.
Download the SQL Server Express Installer
Next, you must download the appropriate installation file for the version of SQL Server 2012 Express Edition that best suits your operating system and your needs. Visit the Microsoft download page and choose whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit version of SQL Server (depending on your operating system), then choose whether you want the version that includes the SQL Server tools. If you have not yet installed the tools on your computer, we recommend that you include them in your download.
The installer will begin extracting the files needed for the installation process. During this process, which can take five to ten minutes, you will see the above status window.
The eject box disappears and nothing happens for a time that seems too long. Wait patiently. Eventually, you may see a message asking if SQL Server 2012 can make changes to your computer. Answer yes. Then you see the message “Please wait while SQL Server 2012 Setup is processing the current operation.” Please be patient for a few more minutes.
Installation Center for SQL Server Express
The SQL Server installer will then display the screen shown above titled “SQL Server Installation Center”. Select link New SQL Server standalone installation or add features to an existing installation to continue the installation process. You will again see a series of pauses and the message “Please wait while SQL Server 2012 Setup is processing the current operation.”
This will open a series of windows on SQL Server, including several pre-installation tests and installing some necessary support files. None of these windows require you to do anything (except accept the license agreement) unless there are problems on your system.
The next feature selection window allows you to configure the SQL Server features that will be installed on your system. If you plan to use this database offline for basic database testing, you do not need to install SQL Server replication. In this window, you can also choose not to install any administration tools or the connection SDK if you do not need them on your system. In our basic example, we accept the default settings and just click the button Further Get on.
SQL Server then runs a series of checks (labeled “Installation Rules” during the installation process) and automatically goes to the next screen if there are no errors. You can also accept the default screen settings Set Instance and press the button again Further †
On the next screen, you can choose whether to create a default instance or a separately named instance of SQL Server 2012 on this computer. If you don’t want to run multiple instances of SQL Server on this computer, you can simply accept the defaults.
After making sure you have enough disk space on your system to complete the installation, the installer will display the server configuration window shown above. Optionally, you can use this screen to configure the accounts that will run the SQL Server services. Otherwise click the button Further to accept the default settings and continue. You can also accept the default settings in the following Database Engine configuration and error reporting screens.
Complete the installation
The installer will (finally) start the installation process. This can take up to 30 minutes, depending on the features you select and the specifications of your computer.