How to SQL Server Express Install, Test, Upgrade, and Uninstall?

The last several versions of Microsoft’s SQL server have seen the introduction of a number of new features. However, not all users will find these necessary, and many may wish to turn to the more lightweight SQL Server Express instead.

The steps for installing, testing, upgrading, and uninstalling SQL Server Express 2019 are described in detail in the following guide.

What is SQL Server Express

SQL Server Express is a free version of Microsoft’s SQL Server. This version has limited features, with a 10 GB maximum database size and no SQL Server Agent support. Because of this, it is best suited for lightweight, data-driven applications.

Next, we will discuss the SQL server 2019 Installation steps.

Note: Installation Process for SQL Server 2019 Express, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, SQL Server 2014, SQL Server 2016, and SQL Server 2017 are the same.

Steps to Install Microsoft SQL Server Express

Step 1. Visit the Microsoft Website and Download SQL Server Express

  • To start the download, click Download Now.

 SQL Express Installation Step 1

Step 2. Run the Installation File

Once the download is complete, find the installation file in the download folder. To start the installation procedure, run the file.

Run the Installation File

Note: SQL2022-SSEI-Expr is the default name for the installation file.

Step 3. Select the Installation Type

After you’ve started the installation, you’ll have the option of choosing one of three installation types.

  • The Basic installation is the fastest and installs SQL Server Database Engine in its default configuration.
  • You can define the install location with the Custom installation. You can also choose which features are installed.
  • You can download the setup files for an offline installation using the Download Media installation method. You can select the SQL Server Engine version you want to download.

Step 4. Choose Custom Installation Type

The type of installation we are using is Custom. To select this option, click the middle tile.

Custom Installation Type

Step 5. Specify Setup File

To start downloading the setup files, specify the installation location and click Install.

Setup File

Step 6. Process Downloading Setup File

Now you will get a window. This process may take some time depending on your download speed.

Process Downloading Setup File

Step 7.  Select New SQL Server Stand-Alone Installation

The SQL Server Installation Center is opened once the wizard has finished downloading the install package. This window has a variety of tools for installing and managing your SQL server.

To start the installation process, select the New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation option as shown in figure 1.7

 SQL Express Installation Step 7

Step 8. Accept License Terms

The license terms for SQL Express Server are described on the following screen. To continue, select the box next to I accept the license terms and the Privacy Statement, then click Next.

Accept License Terms

Step 9. Check Updates

Tick the checkbox next to Check for SQL Server 2019 upgrades in scheduled Windows updates using Microsoft Update. Click Next to proceed.

Check Updates

Step 10. Setup Rules

The Install Rules screen helps in the detection of potential installation errors. Before continuing with the installation, any entries having a failed status must be rectified.

If there are no failed entries, then click Next to continue.

Setup Rules

Step 11. Select Express Features to Install

Check the boxes in the Features section of the Feature Selection screen to specify which elements of SQL Server 2019 to install and define the install directories. To continue, click Next.

Express Features to Install

Step 12.  Specify Name and Instance ID

You can select between the default and custom instance names on the Instance Configuration screen. Here we use the Named instance option and keeping the default suggested names. To continue, click Next.

Instance Configuration

Step 13. Specify Java Installed Location

On the next screen, you may either install Java with your current installation or give a path if you already have it. To continue, click Next.

Java Installed Location

Step 14. Specify Database Engine Authentication

You may choose the authentication mode for your SQL server on the Database Engine Configuration screen. Here we choose the Mixed Mode option, and we’re going to make the current user an administrator. To continue, click Next as shown in figure 1.14

Database Engine Configuration

Step 15. Download and Install Necessary Pre-requisite

On the following two screens, you must agree to install Microsoft R Open. Click Accept and Next on both to proceed as shown in figure 1.15.

Consent to Install Microsoft R Open

Step 16. Process the Installation

The below screen displays the current installation progress.

Process Installation

Step 17. Complete Installation

The new screen gives an overview of the installed features once the installation is complete. To complete the installation, click Close.

SQL Express Installation Step 17

Note: If you want the changes to effect, you must restart your computer.

Steps to Test Connection to SQL Server Express

There are two methods to test your connection to SQL Server Express:

  • Using the SQL Server Management Studio.
  • Using the command prompt.

Step 1. Download SSMS

Start by downloading a copy of the SQL Server Management Studio. Use the provided link to download SSMS from the Download SSMS section as shown in figure 2.1

Download SSMS

Step 2. Setup SQL Server Express

To start the setup, open the installation file and click Install.

Uninstall SQL Server Express Step 2

Step 3. Complete Setup

Once the setup is done, click Close to exit.

Complete Setup

Step 4. Choose SQL Server Authentication

Choose SQL Server Authentication in the login window, and log in with the default Login (sa) and the password you created during SQL Server 2019 setup. To connect to the server, click Connect.

Uninstall SQL Server Express Step 4

If the login window closes without error and you can see the main window of SQL Server Management Studio, the connection is working properly.

How to Update SQL Server Express

The SQL Server Express update procedure is similar to installing the application from scratch. We’re going from SQL Server 2017 to SQL Server 2019 in this example:

Step 1. Select Upgrade

Select the Upgrade from a prior version of SQL Server option in the SQL Server Installation Center box.

Step 2. Install Latest Updates

To continue, click Next after the installation has finished searching for online updates.

Update SQL Server Express Step 2

Step 3. Accept Microsoft Software License Terms

To proceed, check the box next to I accept the license terms and the Privacy Statement, then click Next.

Update SQL Server Express Step 3

Step 4. Specify the Instance

To proceed, click Next after selecting the SQL Server instance you want to update from the drop-down option.

Update SQL Server Express Step 4

Step 5. Download and Install Microsoft R Open

Accept and then Next on the coming two screens to allow Microsoft R Open and Python to be installed.

Update SQL Server Express Step 5

Step 6. Specify Service Accounts

To update the server configuration, click Next on the screen.

Update SQL Server Express Step 6

Step 7. Choose a Full-Text Upgrade Option

On the Full-text Upgrade screen, you can upgrade your full-text catalogs. Choose Rebuild and click Next.

Full-Text Upgrade

Step 8. Complete Your Upgrade

After the update is complete, click Close to close the update window.

Complete Your Upgrade

How to Uninstall SQL Server

Step 1. Choose Microsoft SQL Server

To uninstall SQL Server Express, go to Start > Settings > Apps and choose Microsoft SQL Server 2019.

Step 2. Uninstall SQL Server

Select the entry and click Uninstall.

Uninstall SQL Server Express step 1

Step 3. Remove SQL Server

Choose the Remove option in the uninstall window.

Uninstall SQL Server Express step 2

Step 4. Select SQL Instance

Then select the SQL instance you want to remove. Click Next to proceed.

Uninstall SQL Server Express step 3

Step 5. Select Features

Select the features to uninstall. Click Select All to remove all features, and then Next to proceed.

Uninstall SQL Server Express step 4

Step 6. Verify Features

The below screen gives an overview of the features to be removed. Click Remove to start the uninstall process.

Uninstall SQL Server Express step 5

Step 7. Exit the Uninstall Window

Click Close to exit the uninstall window.

Uninstall SQL Server


After following this guide, you should have a fully functional copy of SQL Server Express 2019 installed and ready to use. You will also be able to upgrade or uninstall your copy of SQL Server Express 2019.