Install SQL Server 2017 Machine Learning Server (Standalone) on Windows

THIS TOPIC APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server (Windows only)noAzure SQL DatabasenoAzure SQL Data WarehousenoParallel Data Warehouse

SQL Server setup includes the option to install a machine learning server that runs outside of SQL Server. This option might be useful if you need to develop high-performance machine learning solutions that can use remote compute contexts, switching interchangeably between the local server and a remote Machine Learning Server on a Spark cluster or on another SQL Server instance.

This article describes how to use SQL Server setup to install the standalone version of SQL Server 2017 Machine Learning Server.

Pre-install checklist

SQL Server 2017 is required. If you have SQL Server 2016, please install SQL Server 2016 R Server (Standalone) instead.

If you installed a previous version, such as SQL Server 2016 R Server (Standalone) or Microsoft R Server, uninstall the existing installation before continuing.

Get the installation media

The download location for SQL Server depends on the edition:

  • SQL Server Enterprise, Standard, and Express Editions are licensed for production use. For Enterprise and Standard Editions, contact your software vendor for the installation media. You can find purchasing information and a directory of Microsoft partners on the Microsoft purchasing website.

  • Free editions are available at SQL Server Downloads.

Run Setup

For local installations, you must run Setup as an administrator. If you install SQL Server from a remote share, you must use a domain account that has read and execute permissions on the remote share.

  1. Start the setup wizard for SQL Server 2017.

  2. Click the Installation tab, and select New Machine Learning Server (Standalone) installation.

    Install Machine Learning Server Standalone

  3. After the rules check is complete, accept SQL Server licensing terms, and select a new installation.

  4. On the Feature Selection page, the following options should already be selected:

    • Microsoft Machine Learning Server (Standalone)

    • R and Python are both selected by default. You can deselect either language, but we recommend that you install at least one of the supported languages.

      Install Machine Learning Server Standalone

      All other options should be ignored.


      Avoid installing the Shared Features if the computer already has Machine Learning Services installed for SQL Server in-database analytics. This creates duplicate libraries.

      Also, whereas R or Python scripts running in SQL Server are managed by SQL Server so as not to conflict with memory used by other database engine services, the standalone machine learning server has no such constraints, and can interfere with other database operations. Finally, remote access via RDP session, which is often used for operationalization, is typically blocked by database administrators.

      For these reasons, we generally recommend that you install Machine Learning Server (Standalone) on a separate computer from SQL Server Machine Learning Services.

  5. Accept the license terms for downloading and installing the machine learning components. If you install both languages, a separate licensing agreement is required for Microsoft R and for Python.

    Python license agreement

    Installation of these components, and any prerequisites they might require, might take a while. When the Accept button becomes unavailable, you can click Next.

  6. On the Ready to Install page, verify your selections, and click Install.

Default installation folders

When you install R Server or Machine Learning Server using SQL Server setup, the R libraries are installed in a folder associated with the SQL Server version that you used for setup. In this folder, you will also find sample data, documentation for the R base packages, and documentation of the R tools and runtime.

However, if you install using the separate Windows installer, or if you upgrade using the separate Windows installer, the R libraries are installed in a different folder.

Just for reference, if you have installed an instance of SQL Server with R Services (In-Database) or Machine Learning Services (In-Database), and that instance is on the same computer, the R libraries and tools are installed by default in a different folder.

The following table lists the paths for each installation.

Version Installation method Default folder
SQL Server 2017 Machine Learning Server (Standalone) SQL Server 2017 setup wizard C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\140\R_SERVER
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\140\PYTHON_SERVER
Microsoft Machine Learning Server (Standalone) Windows standalone installer C:\Program Files\Microsoft\ML Server\R_SERVER
C:\Program Files\Microsoft\ML Server\PYTHON_SERVER
SQL Server 2017 Machine Learning Services (In-Database) SQL Server 2017 setup wizard, with R language option C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL14.<instance_name>\R_SERVICES
C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL14.<instance_name>\PYTHON_SERVICES
SQL Server 2016 R Server (Standalone) SQL Server 2016 setup wizard C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\130\R_SERVER
SQL Server 2016 R Services (In-Database) SQL Server 2016 setup wizard C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL13.<instance_name>\R_SERVICES

Development tools

A development IDE is not installed as part of setup. Additional tools are not required, as all the standard tools are included that would be provided with a distribution of R or Python.

We recommend that you try the new release of R Tools for Visual Studio or Python for Visual Studio. Visual Studio supports both R and Python, as well as database development tools, connectivity with SQL Server, and BI tools. However, you can use any preferred development environment, including RStudio.

Get help

Need help with installation or upgrade? For answers to common questions and known issues, see the following article:

To check the installation status of the instance and fix common issues, try these custom reports.

Next steps

R developers can get started with some simple examples, and learn the basics of how R works with SQL Server. For your next step, see the following links:

Python developers can learn how to use Python with SQL Server by following these tutorials:

To view examples of machine learning that are based on real-world scenarios, see Machine learning tutorials.