SQL Server Express and Hosting

Several questions have come up lately regarding whether SQL Server Express is an appropriate product to be used in a hosting environment. Here are the answers:

· User Instances (also known as RANU) available with SQL Server Express Edition, are NOT RECOMMENDED for hosting environments.

· Shared hosting: SQL Server Express Edition is NOT RECOMMENDED for shared (multi-tenant) hosting as the scale limits and memory handling do not allow it to meet the requirements of such an environment. SQL Server Standard Edition or Enterprise Edition are the best choice for shared hosting.

· Dedicated hosting: All versions of SQL Server including Express Edition are RECOMMENDED for dedicated (single-tenant) hosting environments. SQL Server Express Edition is a great way to provide a free copy of SQL Server with low cost Windows Server offerings. Where customers require more advanced features or higher scale, Workgroup Edition, Standard Edition, and Enterprise Edition are all options.

· Applications built on SQL Server Express Edition can be hosted in other editions of SQL Server.   There is a tool called the Database Publishing Wizard (it comes bundled with Visual Studio 2008) to help the export/import process. If the Connection String contains a reference to User Instances, it needs to be updated (many sample applications and development tools include User Instances by default). There are several excellent post from Scott Guthrie that describe how to use the Database Publishing Wizard and how to post your ASP.NET application to a web host:

Recipe: Deploying a SQL Database to a Remote Hosting Environment

Update of SQL Server Database Publishing Toolkit for Web Hosting

Tip/Trick: How to upload a .SQL file to a Hoster and Execute it to Deploy a SQL Database

For hosters looking for more guidance on running SQL Server 2005 in a hosted environment, see the best practices article SQL Server 2005 Deployment Guidance for Web Hosting Environments.


Two posts in one day, I'm on a roll.

- Mike Wachal

- SQL Express team