SQL Server Express: overview and features of SQL Server Express

Each of Microsoft SQL Server products released over time comes in several versions and is directed for different user populations. However, what they have in common is that each new release of SQL Server always contains a version named SQL Server Express. In the 2014 version it is a free product that allows users to download and become familiar with the capabilities of the SQL Server. The SQL Server Express versions do not incorporate the full capabilities of the other commercial versions but do content the main features available for that particular release.

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The SQL Server Express product has been available since the release of the server 2000. This particular variant of the SQL Server was specifically addressed to embedded and small scale applications acquired the brand ”Express” since its release with the sql server 2005 bundle. The restrictions imposed on the SQL Server Express versions include a maximum size of 10 GB per database. This limit has progressively increased through the product revisions. It was originally 2 GB in the first avatar of the product as released with the MSDE (first version of the SQL Server product). The database size limit increased to 10 GB from SQL Server Express editions of 2008 R2, 2012 and the SQL Server Express 2014. One is not allowed to use more than one CPU for the SQL Server Express edition products. You could use multi-core devices though. Analysis services or SQL Server agent services are not available for the SQL Server Express product variant (some variants of the Express version are available). Some usage limits exist. The SQL Server Express product variant will not be able to access more than 1 GB of RAM, even though the machine physically has more availability. The SQL Server Express variant with advanced services must have 4GB per instance of the reporting services.

The SQL Server Express editions do contain some of the very useful GUI tools. These include the

  • Management Studio Express version,
  • Configuration and Surface Area Configuration Tools.
  • Business Intelligence Development Studio is also made available with SQL Server Express editions to let the user carry out BI related work comfortably.

However some useful services that are excluded (compared to Standard and other higher level editions) from the SQL Server Express editions include Integration Services, Notification Services. Analysis Services also are not included. All of these are included in higher versions as SQL Services Analysis Services (SSAS). This service enhances the capabilities of OLAP and data mining features. These capabilities thus are going to be limited in capability in the SQL Server Express products. Analyzing and spotting the trends that can only be discerned across tables could not be done in the Express edition. Integration, reporting and analysis services are part of this SSAS package. OLAP, data mining, data warehousing and overall business intelligence capabilities will be limited with these products.

Overall, even though SQL Server Express edition has its limitations, it is a great tool to start to get familiar with SQL Server and its features.

At SQL Server Tutorial we are always happy to help with any questions regarding SQL Server Express or any other related topics. Please don’t hesitate to contact us!


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