I have been wracking my brain over upgrading SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2005 SP4. I have a script for installing new instances of SQL Server for all versions and they all work wonderfully. Problem is, SQL Server 2012 can't upgrade SQL Server 2005 SP3 and below. So, I have to install SP4 to SQL Server 2005, AND THEN upgrade to SQL Server 2012, which is highly annoying.

I need to do this silently via the command line, but I cannot get it to work at all. Here are some samples I tried:


SQLSP4.exe /quiet /instancename="FOOBAR"

Among a couple other variations. I could not find anything online at all. In fact, the one helpful thread ended in saying that Microsoft didn't have any support for this, but I'm not sure about that.

What can be done here? Does anyone have any experience in updating service packs via command line?

1 Answer 1


Make sure you include the /IAcceptSQLServerLicenseTerms switch, otherwise your installation will fail. I have commonly done silent installs of service packs to using the following syntax:

.\<SQLServicePack>.exe /q /action=patch /instancename="FOOBAR" /IAcceptSQLServerLicenseTerms

Full syntax documented here.

  • That syntax is from sql server 2008. I was also under the impression that sql 2005 didn't mandate the licenseterms flag. Mar 6, 2013 at 23:05
  • This would be my first check, as I've needed that switch whenever I've applied a service pack from the command line. Otherwise, you should look for whatever detail is in the setup log (..\Microsoft SQL Server\90\Setup Bootstrap\Log) for details on the failure.
    – Mike Fal
    Mar 6, 2013 at 23:14
  • Thanks for the log. I will check that out now and see what exception was thrown. Mar 6, 2013 at 23:19
  • Ok, its complaining about invalid command line argument. SQLEXPR4.exe /qb /IACCEPTSQLLICENSETERMS /instancename="FOOBAR". That looks fine to me. Mar 6, 2013 at 23:38
  • Got a weird help file that came up. Looks like the correct syntax is: SQLEXPR4.EXE /qb /update <update1.msp>. Question is: what is a msp file, and do i have to download it in order to finally get this done? Mar 7, 2013 at 0:01

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