MSSQL Server evaluation period has expired: How to upgrade SQL Server instance

SQL Server upgrade

SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) is an integrated environment for managing any SQL infrastructure, from SQL Server to Azure SQL Database. SSMS provides tools to configure, monitor, and administer instances of SQL Server and databases. You can use SSMS to query, design, and manage your databases and data warehouses, wherever they are on your local computer, or in the cloud. Please see some related MSSQL guides I have written. What are the differences between various Editions of Microsoft SQL Server, how to install MSSQL Server 2019 Developer Edition and SSMS on Windows, and how to download and install Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Express edition and SSMS?

I created this blog post due to the following error described in this guide “Windows could not start the SQL Server service on local computer 17051: A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server“.

Before fixing this issue, I would like to discuss the different SQL Server editions. The installation requirements vary based on your application needs. The different editions of SQL Server accommodate the unique performance, runtime, and price requirements of organizations and individuals. The SQL Server components that you install also depend on your specific requirements.

  • Enterprise Edition: Enterprise SQL Server Edition contains all supported features, in particular, the SQL Server version. It is suitable for mission-critical databases with advanced features. It is recommended to use in the production environment. We can use unlimited CPU and memory in this edition; however, it should be supported by the underlying operating system.
  • Standard Edition: This edition is a light version of the enterprise edition and is suitable for not using the advanced feature of SQL Server. For example, we can use 24 cores with 128 GB max memory in a standard edition. We can easily upgrade SQL Server Standard to the enterprise edition, and it does not require any code-level changes.
  • Express Edition: It is the simplest version of SQL Server and is suitable as an entry-level database. It only supports basic features of SQL Server and has very limited compute capabilities as well. We can use only 4 cores, 1410 MB RAM along with 10 GB maximum database size. It does not provide SQL Server functionalities such as SQL Server Agent and database mail.
  • Developer Edition: SQL Server developer edition provides all features available in the Enterprise edition of SQL Server. You can download the developer edition for free and use it to build, test, and use features of the enterprise edition in a non-prod environment. We can also upgrade the developer edition to the enterprise edition.
  • SQL Server Web Edition: This is a low total-cost-of-ownership option for Web hosters and Web VAPs to provide scalability, affordability, and manageability capabilities for small to large-scale Web properties. SQL Server Developer edition lets developers build any kind of application on top of SQL Server. We can consider it edition in between the standard and express edition.

To fix this issue “the SQL Server evaluation period has expired”, we will have to apply the product key. To do this, please follow the steps discussed below. Launch the Open the SQL Server Installation Center and click on the Maintenance link. Please see the guide on how to fix the following issue. “The server was not found or was not accessible: A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server“.

You can also launch this by launching setup.exe on MS SQL server installation media as well. Once the Installation center is launched, click Maintenance on the left side navigation and click Edition upgrade.

MSSQL Server expiration

Upon clicking on the Installation Center, the following window will open up. Then click on the Maintenance Tab, and then on Edition Upgrade

SQL Server instance

This will open up the “upgrade the Edition for SQL Server” window as shown below,  

evaluation period

Nonetheless, On the Product Key page, select ”Enter the product key,” and type the product key and click Next.

SQL Server upgrade

Accept the license terms and click Next.

MSSQL Server expiration

However, Select the instance you want to upgrade. You can see the instance name and select that instance. In this case, MBAM instance, which pointed out with evaluation. Select the instance and click Next.


On the ”Ready to upgrade edition” page, please click upgrade.


The upgrade process will take a few minutes to complete. Once the upgrade is completed, you will get a complete status, “succeeded”.


Now, let’s explore the process of resuming our services. You’ll discover that the services are up and running once more, demonstrating how to upgrade your SQL Server instance effectively.


I trust you discovered valuable insights in this blog post. If queries arise, feel free to ask in the comments on how to upgrade your SQL Server instance.

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