On my development machine I've installed SQL Server Express 2008, but it has the instance name .\SQLEXPRESS. I want it to be the default instance. I'm pretty sure that I selected the "Default Instance" option in the setup, but apparently it didn't work. Is there any way I can change the instance name now?


It seems that this is a known bug in the installer. It will be fixed when PCU 1 (PubliC Update) comes out, but there's not telling when that's gonna happen. In the mean time there are two workarounds:

  • When installing, choose the "Named Instance" option and enter MSSQLSERVER.
  • Install a named instance, then install another instance and this time the "Default Instance" option will work.

Still, the question remains: is there any way to rename an instance WITHOUT reinstalling? Because the setup was a slow pain. XD


There is no way to change the instance name without re-installing, sorry.....

Update: OK, seems there are a few ways of doing this - not sure how well these work, though. I have not ever heard of anyone doing this successfully, though :-( The easiest way to do this is re-installing with the correct name. Especially with the SQL Server Express versions, it's really no big deal to reinstall - done in a breeze, and you can of course backup and restore your data - so no loss there, either....

Also, it seems that method is limited to SQL Server 2000 only - when searching for the appropriate topics for SQL Server 2008 (sp_dropserver, sp_addserver), it seems those are used for renaming a server (computer) to a new name - not changing the SQL Server instance name, in my opinion. There's no more mention of renaming an installed SQL Server instance with that method.

  • Hi Marc, do you know if this has changed in SQL Server 2014? – Craig Efrein Jul 31 '14 at 12:40
  • @CraigEfrein: I don't think it was - at least I never read anything about this being possible in SQL Server 2014 now.... – marc_s Jul 31 '14 at 12:42
  • This has not changed and probably never will. – mrdenny Mar 17 '15 at 5:23
  • It's a good time to test your disaster recovery plan with a restore to a new server installation! – HackSlash Aug 17 '18 at 15:50

sp_dropserver and sp_addserver are only used to tell the SQL Instance that the name of the physical computer has been changed.

There is no way to change the name of the instance without reinstalling SQL.

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.