I'm trying to access the "localdb\MSSQLLocalDB" server on my computer through PowerShell with the SQLCMD utility. I'm using PowerShell v5, .NET v5.0, and the server name is (localdb)\MSSQLLocalDB when I connect to it in Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 2014.

PS C:\> sqlcmd -S localdb\MSSQLLocalDB and PS C:\> sqlcmd -S .\localdb\MSSQLLocalDB result in this error:

Sqlcmd: Error: Microsoft ODBC Driver 11 for SQL Server : SQL Server Network Interfaces: Error Locating Server/Instance Specified [xFFFFFFFF].

I queried the server name in Management Studio with SELECT @@ServerName and used that after the -S in the above command and got the same error.

PS C:\> sqlcmd -S localdb gives this error:

Sqlcmd: Error: Microsoft ODBC Driver 11 for SQL Server : Named Pipes Provider: Could not open a connection to SQL Server [53]

Other notes: I'm able to connect to the server and work with a database named testdb01 in a C# console app using System.Data.SqlClient with this connection string:

"Data Source=(localdb)\\mssqllocaldb;Initial Catalog=testdb01;Integrated Security=SSPI;"

1 Answer 1


The casing of the instance name does not matter.

You need to try:

sqlcmd -S "(localdb)\MSSQLLocalDB" -d testdb01

The "localdb" part needs to be enclosed in parenthesis as that is a special syntax that points to a SQL Server Express LocalDB-specific API that allows for automatic instance start-up upon being referenced in a connection string. The whole instance name needs to be enclosed in double quotes. The command-line shown above works for me, at least outside of PowerShell.

  • Including (localdb) in parenthesis looks like it separates it as a command, and it gives the following error: The term 'localdb' is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program.
    – jmk22
    Dec 24, 2015 at 18:57
  • 1
    @jmk22 Then try putting the entire server name in double-quotes: -S "(localdb)\MSSQLLocalDB". If that doesn't work then we can try escaping the parenthesis. But somehow those parens need to be there. Dec 24, 2015 at 19:30
  • 1
    The quotations did it, thanks! I've edited your answer to reflect this.
    – jmk22
    Dec 24, 2015 at 19:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.