Is there a best practice on where to install SQL Server binaries for a new windows server deployment. I've seen some people suggest that it's best to seperate this from the OS drive and place it on it's own drive. I've seen others seperate it from the OS and place it on the same drive as the database file, and now while reading through the Architecting Microsoft SQL Server on VMWare vSphere the document says:

The SQL Server binaries should be installed in the OS VMDK. SQL Server, even if another drive is selected for binary installation, will still install things on the OS drive so there is no real point in installing elsewhere

I get the need to setup database, transaction logs, tempdb and backups each on their own drive and the reasons for these recommendations, however I'm not 100% sure on the best practice recommendation on where to install the SQL Server binaries and why, especially since i've seen various recommendations from trusted sources.

For our application, this will be a virtuallized server on vmware.

1 Answer 1


It entirely depends on what you're attempting to achieve or get around.

I, personally, see no reason to have it on a non-OS drive much as what was already pointed out by yourself that there are various other files and items needed to be installed on the OS drive. The amount of IO you'll needed for these files are minimal, and outside of patching/updates that will replace certain files, the space requirements aren't very high that it would warrant a separate drive.

If you're attempting to get around certain policies at your company, it may make sense to put them elsewhere, but that's really something that should be addressed through policy changes.

If you're attempting to have better recoverability, then the OS drive would make the most sense.

If you're attempting to have a small "applications" drive, then sure put it there.

I'd say, take a step back, figure out what you're trying to solve, and then go that direction. If there is already a standard location it is installed, I'd keep going with the same location for uniformity. Unless there is a good reason why the choice was made, everything, including this answer, is going to be personal preference, which may even be "I don't care, it can go in the default locations".

  • Thanks, I think that's a great explanation. For myself there wasn't a specific issue I was trying to resolve, it was more so that when reading about best practices for deploying and configuring SQL Server, on VMWare with Windows Server that this sometimes came up in the different articles that I was reading along with their best practices. I'll review this with our server and vm admins, but I think that leaving in on the OS drive likely makes the most sense. Commented Oct 20, 2023 at 19:38

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