We have SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition, and we're researching migration to SQL Server 2014. I already know that I need to use 2008 as an intermediate step. My question is, do we need to purchase a licensed 2008, or will 2008 Express work. The 2008 edition will only be installed briefly (as long as it takes to restore to it, and then backup from it), so I'm hoping Express is good enough.

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    Do you have any databases > 10GB? If so, you can't use Express. Why not use a 180 day trial of 2008 R2? Jan 8, 2015 at 20:52
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    John that's fantastic advice. Install the trial, backup, uninstall. No clue why I didn't think of that.
    – Aaron
    Jan 8, 2015 at 20:53
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    Or if you use features not supported in Express - not much in standard (especially back then) but as a note to future readers who may try similar things with different version / edition jumps. I've recommended this same tactic in the past but I would be very careful to proceed very quietly and be sure to fully read the EULA for eval edition. I'm not sure knowingly migrating a production database (with no intentions of "evaluating" anything) falls under the licensing agreement. Jan 8, 2015 at 21:13
  • @AaronBertrand "quietly" is a good way to describe it, for sure. Jan 8, 2015 at 21:15
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    I echo the advice to direct licensing questions to the vendor. I expect you will be advised that your SQL2014 license includes downgrade rights, which permit you to install 2008 as an interim step in your upgrade process. Y would not be permitted to have both a 2014 and 2008 instance in active use at the same time. Jan 10, 2015 at 13:39

1 Answer 1


You could use Express, but it does not have all features that the full versions do and cannot handle databases larger than 10GB each. Please note the 10 GB restriction applies to the total size of data files only (so, for example, log files do not count toward the limit).

If that does not fit your needs, you could use a trial version of SQL Server 2008 R2 (ISO Image, or VHD) which is good for 180 days. As Aaron has researched, the EULA for the trial does cover this activity. The EULA states,

  • You may install and use any number of copies of the software on your devices. You may use the software only to demonstrate and internally evaluate it.

  • You may not use the software in a live operating environment unless Microsoft permits you to do so under another agreement.

Which does apparently include the use of an evaluation copy as a stepping stone.

Either way, you should use SQL Server 2008 R2 and not SQL Server 2008.

  • Buying a copy of Developer Edition - $50 or so if you can still locate 2008 R2 from a reputable source - may be a bit more legal (again I am not a lawyer or a licensing rep, so read the EULA). Jan 8, 2015 at 21:35
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    I posed the EULA question on MSDN, and received a reply that the 2014 License includes downgrade rights, which allow using 2008 for migration. They also stated that the trial is ok to use, as it is acceptable to consider "...this as part of testing and evaluating your SQL Server 2014 upgrade."
    – Aaron
    Jan 9, 2015 at 17:24

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