I suspect this is an issue because we hit the 50 instance max limit of SQL Server. At the limit it won't install more instances, naturally. However, it seems it won't UNinstall them either. That's worse.

It hangs at the "Select Features" dialogue when you hit next after selecting the SQL Engine for the instance.

I didn't find a lot of info about this. The most interesting hit was this: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/sqlserver/en-US/24a1e5f3-25f3-48c8-973a-4c6a18578e42/trying-to-uninstall-1-of-50-sql-server-2008-r2-express-hangs-on-please-wait

It also suggest using setup.exe with some parameters to uninstall the instance, but I can't get it to do so without starting the GUI and into the normal uninstall which fails.

Elevation does nothing. Reboot doesn't help. Logs only say "canceled by user", because I have to kill it in the end. Nothing obvious prior to that point. Validations are all green.

The setup says it is SQL Server 2012 SP1 - all instances are at 11.0.2100.

I' choosing to to answer/close my own question since Microsoft has closed the ticket with the status of "Won't fix."

Hopefully they will have fixed this for SQL Server 2014, but I have not and do not plan to test that myself, nor do they provide any additional comment on closing the ticket.

  • You're trying to setup a big data-set and save on licensing cost, aren't you? I had the same thought once. How is it going?
    – usr
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 9:52
  • Maybe sqlwebpedia.com/content/uninstalling-sql-instance-cluster
    – Mihai
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 10:04
  • I was wrong! This is actually a licensed server! I corrected the title. Not that it is relevant at all to the issue, I think. (We have tons of Express for small datasets. Works like a charm. If they grow too big they're migrated to licensed servers.)
    – Gomibushi
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 12:46
  • @Mihai - Thanks, but this is not a clustered instance. Doesn't seem relevant...
    – Gomibushi
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 12:47
  • Ok, Hail Mary but could you go into the registry and delete one of the instance name keys (backing it up first)? (Location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\Instance Names\SQL) Then see if the installer will only see 49 instances and perform the uninstall of one of the instances cleanly .. then go back and restore the missing key? Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 22:03

1 Answer 1


It will likely be because the setup GUI is trying to enumerate all the instances installed and failing miserably, running the uninstall from the command line should do it

Running the below command with admin privileges will uninstall the SQL server instance with no setup GUI displayed:


I assume that you only have the SQL Server feature installed, if you have others you want to remove, you can just add them in a comma separated list of values, such as /FEATURES=SQL,RS,Tools

For different instances, just replace MSSQLSERVER with the name of the instance you want to remove.

Command line reference for setup.exe is available here:

Install SQL Server 2012 from the Command Prompt

  • What error are you getting when running the command?
    – steoleary
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 11:30
  • I misread the first "note" on this: msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms144259.aspx - It says /QS doesn't work for uninstall, but I read it as /Q too. Still doesn't work for me though: >Setup.exe /Action=Uninstall /FEATURES=SQL /INSTANCENAME=NAME /Q The following error occurred: SQL Server 2012 cannot add any more instances. To continue installing this instance, you must uninstall an existing instance. Error result: -2146233079 Result facility code: 19 Result error code: 5385 Obviously it validates AS IF it were to install more instanses, so it has deadlocked! How about: sc delete ??
    – Gomibushi
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 11:34
  • sc delete won't help you as I would imagine it's looking in the registry for the instance list, deleting the service won't help with that, plus you're likely to make the uninstall fail if you do get past the first error.
    – steoleary
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 12:04
  • What I figure too. It probably does a whole lot more than just add the service when "installing" the instance, however I guess the only way out now is to hack this registry of instances to be able to run the uninstaller on one instance. Then "hack it back" to normalize the server. Seriously MicroSoft... Is this really an actual bug in SQL Server 2012? Pretty horrible!
    – Gomibushi
    Commented Dec 3, 2013 at 12:39
  • 4
    Registered as bug on Connect after SQL MVP suggested it. -connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/810765/… - Will update this post.
    – Gomibushi
    Commented Dec 5, 2013 at 10:12

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