I am running SQL Server Express Edition with Advanced Services on Windows Server 2008 Enterprise 32 bit OS.

I have enabled "Use AWE to allocate memory" on the SQL Server, but I am not sure if this will help at all as in the Microsoft Documentation it says that AWE is not supported for SQL Server 2008 Express.

Why then there is check box for a option that supposedly is not supported?

I would go with the Standard edition of SQL Server if I know for sure that AWE is not supported in SQL Server Express.

  • AWE is useful for your OS to be able to allocate SQL Server more than the limited 4GB of a 32 bit operating system. The fact that your OS will support more than 4 GB for a process doesn't mean your Express SQL will do. It's 2014, switch to: 64 bit OS, any supported SQL Server edition. That will be a better decision than investing time and money in a old SQL/OS pair.
    – Marian
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 16:29

1 Answer 1


There is no point in checking AWE on express edition when SQL Server can see 'just' more than 1G memory. Although it says SQl server can take maximum up till 1G on express edition it takes bit more than that.

AWE is a windows feature in 32 bit which allow SQL Server to use memory greater than its VAS limit. VAS limit for SQL server 32 bit running on 32 bit windows machine is 2G and on WOW system is 4 G. Using AWE SQL Server data and index pages can use memory beyond its VAS limit of 2 G. But since in your case max server memory is 1G there is no point in enabling it. And this is the reason I guess why documentation says so.

As to why it is there because MS does not wants to make change. AWE on 64 bit server has also no meaning but this option is there as well.

I would go with standard edition of SQL if I know for sure that AWE is not supported in SQL Express?

Go with standard edition 64 bit and yes you would also need 64 bit OS for that. 32 bit server these days have lots of performance restriction especially in terms of memory and VAS. 64 bit will have 8 TB VAS and enough memory to support. 32 bit server is kind of outdated now ( unless you have grave requirement)

  • Thanks for the response. The thing is that we bought Windows Server Enterprise x32 bit just to be able to address more RAM. The server has 24GB of ram but we are using SQL 2008 Express.
    – ata
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 18:28
  • Its good that you have enterprise edition you can enable PAE so that win OS can see more than 4 G. Now with OS able to see more than 4 G if SQL Server is standard/enterprise edition you can then enable AWE so that SQL Server data and index pages can access more than 2 G RAM. In this case AWE would certainly help and should be enabled.
    – Shanky
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 19:29
  • 2
    @ata how old is the hardware? I'm still baffled by your choices: (1) a 32-bit operating system at all - unless the hardware is a dozen years old, why? (2) you want to address more RAM but you're using SQL Server Express, which has a memory limit of 1GB per instance. Are you going to run 20+ separate instances in order to make use of all the memory? Otherwise why wouldn't you spend money on an edition of SQL Server that actually matches the hardware's capabilities? Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 17:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.