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Using SQL Server Express in Production

26 November,2016 by Tom Collins

Question: I’ve had a request to install SQL Server Express to support a Production application. It’s a lightweight application , and doesn’t require some of the added features , such as High Availability , encryption, compliance reporting for audit. Also , the system only requires 4 cores and 1 GB memory.

What is your view on using SQL Server Express on a Production environment?

Answer: Firstly , SQL Server Express is free to download , use and distribute. That is a tempting proposition for a cost – conscious organisation. But you need to look deeper and at free. It may initially be free , but long-term there are hidden costs of using SQL Server Express in the Production environment

I’m hard line on not using SQL Server Express in the Production environment. These are some reasons for my view

  1. In most large SQL Server environments , patching is an important aspect of DBA administration. Unless you have a central area for patching , how will you deal with vulnerabilities when discovered?
  2. Software currency – if there is no central group inventory for SQL Server Express , then maintaining software currency can easily be missed
  3. If it’s a Production application then Production level infrastructure and support is required.
  4. Maximum database size for SQL Server Express is 10 GB. That’s it , no more. Think about how quickly you may get to 10 GB – there are no warnings.
  5. There’s no SQL Server Agent on SQL Server Express. Many DBAs rely heavily on SQL Server Agent for managing backups, transaction logs and other administration tasks.

       What will downtime cost?


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Author: Tom Collins (


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