Working with a new SQL Server 2016 Express installation. I loaded SSMS and have Administrator access to the instance. The vendor supplied a database for a new app that has only a couple internal accounts for their app defined in the database's Security. I only have public access to the database at this point- I can look at properties, but cannot add accounts to the database.

Is there a way to add my administrator account to this database's Security to gain admin access? SQL downtime is not an issue. I did some searching and found a handful of hits for regaining access to the instance, but haven't found any that address adding a new account at the database level.

  • 1
    When you right click your login at the instance level > properties > Server Roles, what server roles are marked?
    – Ronaldo
    May 1, 2020 at 12:17

2 Answers 2


If you are a Windows Administrator, follow the procedure documented here.

Or simply run this script from an elevated command prompt on the SQL Server:

net stop mssql$sqlexpress 
net start mssql$sqlexpress /mSQLCMD 
sqlcmd -S (local)\sqlexpress -Q "if not exists(select * from sys.server_principals where name='BUILTIN\administrators') CREATE LOGIN [BUILTIN\administrators] FROM WINDOWS;EXEC master..sp_addsrvrolemember @loginame = N'BUILTIN\administrators', @rolename = N'sysadmin'" 
net stop mssql$sqlexpress
net start mssql$sqlexpress
sqlcmd -S (local)\sqlexpress -Q "if exists( select * from fn_my_permissions(NULL, 'SERVER') where permission_name = 'CONTROL SERVER') print 'You are a sysadmin.'"



I did finally get admin access to the SQL database using the PsExec utility to run SSMS as an Administrator. Made a mistake the first time I tried this- the missing piece was that I needed to open the Command Window as an Administrator (right-click, run as Administrator). Replaced the path below with the one where the SSMS 18.5 executable lives. Right-click the SSMS shortcut and view properties to find that.

Once SSMS launched, I found I could add any account I wanted. But... I don't have a completely happy ending: I found that the vendor's new software release is encrypting some of the critical text columns in the tables. Unless I can figure that out (ha, right), I am unable to use the reporting scripts I had previously written for the prior release. The app's built-in reporting is on the high side of hideous.

Thanks to everybody for the responses. I hope this can be of help to others.

PsExec -s -i "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\Ssms.exe"

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