SQL Express

SQL Express is a free and feature-limited SQL Server edition. It is used for embedded to small-scale data-driven mobile and desktop applications.

SQL Express

SQL Express is a relational database management system that is free to download, use, and distribute.

This version comes with limited features and is designed for applications with up to 10GB databases.

This lightweight version is actively supported and updated by Microsoft.

You can download SQL Express from this link.

SQL Express Editions

SQL Server Express is free to download and use in production.
It also comes in different editions based on your needs.

Edition Description
SQL Server Express w/ Tools Contains the core SQL Server database along with the tools to manage SQL Server instances, including SQL Server Express, LocalDB, and SQL Azure
SQL Server Management Studio Includes tools to manage SQL Server instances, including LocalDB, SQL Express, SQL Azure (does not contain SQL Server)
SQL Server Express LocalDB LocalDB is a lightweight version of Express that has all its programmability features yet runs in user mode and has a fast, zero-configuration installation
SQL Server Express w/ Advanced Series This package contains the database engine, Express Tools, Reporting Services, Full Text Search, management tools, and all the components of SQL Server Express

SQL Express Version History

SQL Express versions and their release and support end dates.

Version Release Date Support End Date
SQL Server 2005 Express Edition Nov 7, 2005 Apr 12, 2016
SQL Server 2008 Express Feb 8, 2009 Jul 9, 2019
SQL Server 2008 R2 Express Apr 16, 2010 Sep 9, 2019
SQL Server 2012 Express May 14, 2012 Sep 12, 2022
SQL Server 2014 Express Apr 1, 2014 Sep 9, 2024
SQL Server 2016 Express Jun 1, 2016 Jul 14, 2026
SQL Server 2017 Express Sep 29, 2017 Oct 12, 2027
SQL Server 2019 Express Nov 4, 2019 Jan 8, 2030

SQL Express Download

Here we show how to download and install SQL Express.

Download SQL Server Express

Download the SQL Server from Microsoft.

Select Express from the download selection.

Click the Download Now button to start downloading the installer file.

Download SQL Server Express

Install SQL Server Express

An installer .exe file will be downloaded.

Run this file and choose the installation type.

Install SQL Server Express

The Basic installation is the quickest and installs default configuration of SQL Server Database Engine.

Custom installation allows you to specify the install location and features.

Lastly, Download Media downloads the setup files for offline installation and the SQL Server Engine version can be chosen.

SQL Express Size Limit

SQL Server Express has the following size limitations:

1GB for database engine memory

10GB for database size

1MB for buffer cache

CPU: the lesser of one (1) socket, or four (4) cores

SQL Express Encryption

Data security is important when personal data is stored such as contact information, banking details, credit card information, and more. Encryption is used to protect from unauthorize access to this data. Here are some ways on how to protect your data:

Provide access to relevant persons only

Encrypt the folder containing all database files

Starting with the 2016 SP1 version of SQL Server Express, the Always Encrypted feature is built-in. Here is what it does.

Always Encrypted protects sensitive data by offering column-level encryption.

It relies on necessary keys to decrypt data to be stored on the client-side.

These keys are never available to the Database Engine which separates the owner of the data and those who manage it.

Advantages of SQL Express

Lightweight, easy to understand and use

Free to download, distribute, and use in production

Easy to scale up and migrate to full SQL Server

Automatic patching and installation of important Windows and SQL Server updates

Includes anti-malware and intrusion prevention modules

Can be used in a Virtual Machine

Automated backup to blob storage

Supports ETL using SSIS to automate processes

Supports Reporting Services creating SRS reports as a standard reporting interface

Data Analysis using stored procedure, views and transformations

Integration with other applications through ODBC, Linked Server, etc.

Disdvantages of SQL Express

SQL Express is for small to medium sized databases only.

Maximum database size of 10GB (4GB for SQL Express 2008 and earlier)

1GB maximum memory used by the database engine

1MB maximum buffer cache

No support for SQL Server Agent service

Cannot be used for deployment with more than 50 hosts

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Last updated on Dec 21, 2023