I have (more than one instance) some of my experiments with SQL Server 2008 eval (why eval --> brutal bureaucracy about using licenced version for testing or short life-cycle experiments), and after expiration I saved image of virtual, and now I want to start up some of them by using DataCenter licence, but this version doesn't allow me to reinstall or upgrade expired instance with options to hold system setting, users, linked servers or etc....

my questions:

  • Is there some version of SQL Server 2008 (ms-whatever didn't gave me an answer) that be able to start up expired eval?

  • Is there comment about uninstall and attach from File?

  • (maybe really stupid) Is it possible to un-install eval and install Datacenter by using some parameters from command line, or some 3rd. party tools for that?

3 Answers 3


You should be able to run the installer and specify the /SKUUPGRADE switch which will allow you to upgrade the existing instance. There's a couple of reg keys that you'll need to blow away to get SSMS up and running on the machine, but those are documented in the MSKB somewhere.


looks like as this article could be something what I looking for,


I tried another one simple hack with success, (long timed oparations, because instalations runs twice)

1) repair instance

2) upgrade instance

(maintanence options in the instalations medium) and all expired instances should be repared, notice required to check cached username & psw in the linked servers, all users from AD/eDir/ldap doesn't required any maintenance


Umm... maybe I'm missing something here, but I'd recommend using a Developer Edition of SQL for doing your testing / eval / etc. It's the exact same functionality as the top end Datacenter edition. That's what it's there for.

If you can't swing a Dev edition, what about Express? Do you need the really high end features, or are you just building a database for an application?

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