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The Rambling DBA: Jonathan Kehayias

The random ramblings and rantings of frazzled SQL Server DBA

SQL Server 2008 Evaluation Edition Expiration Woes

With SQL Server 2008 passing its 6 months since RTM date, a common problem is popping up in the forums and is now listed on Connect.  When an install of Evaluation Edition Expires, the services stop functioning until an upgrade is made to a full version of SQL Server 2008.  This is normal.  The problem is that during the Edition Upgrade, SQL Server Management Studio is not upgraded, and a persistent popup will occur stating that the evaluation version has expired.




There is currently a workaround that can be done to resolve this problem.  Open RegEdit and change the value of the CommonFiles REG_DWORD under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\100\ConfigurationState registry from 1 to 3 and then rerun the Edition Upgrade.  This will allow the Upgrade to Management Studio to complete properly.



Published Friday, February 20, 2009 11:13 AM by Jonathan Kehayias



eonsoy said:

"When an install of Evaluation Edition Expires, the services stop functioning until an upgrade is made to a full version of SQL Server 2008."

AFAIK you can not upgrade an expired edition of SQL Server. You just have to uninstall it to use the same instance name for a new version.

February 21, 2009 12:20 PM

Jonathan Kehayias said:


Install SQL 2008 Evaluation on a VPC, then set your clock forward 181+ days and test the information provided in this post.  You will be able to do an Edition Upgrade but it will not upgrade your Management Studio Tools unless you change the Registry key mentioned, event though the other components upgrade editions properly after expiration.  I followed these steps to create the screenshots for this blog post and validate the work around before posting it in the connect feedback as a workaround.

February 21, 2009 11:36 PM

eonsoy said:

I didn't have Evaluation Edition of 2008, so I used 2005 for the test and it seems you are right. 2005 Evaluation Edition was upgraded with Standard Edition, and for the record no problem with the tools.

February 22, 2009 1:44 PM

Jonathan Kehayias said:


Nowhere in my post do I mention SQL Server 2005.  This post is distinctly related to SQL Server 2008 Evaluation Edition, so your tests are completely unrelated to the contents of this post.  The problem is with SQL Server 2008 Evaluation Edition.

February 22, 2009 3:08 PM

eonsoy said:

Jonathan, I know you do not mention 2005 and I'm not trying to be a firestarter =)

I just thought if Evaluation Edition of 2005 can be upgraded by design then 2008 can be upgraded as well so that's why I sent my comment about this test just to confirm it for the sake of record in case some user needs this info.

February 23, 2009 3:34 AM

robert pohl said:

Thanks a gazillion for this!

It's insane that you need to change the registry in order to upgrade the management studio. Thanks again!

March 10, 2009 4:55 AM

isitdanny said:

Jonathan, This is a straight up thanks. Thanks to you it was a snap. I did not want to have to pull it out and put it back in.....

April 4, 2009 2:07 PM

Brian said:

Jonathan, a big thanks from me as well. This solution bailed me out big time at the wee hours in the morning just when I was about to give up, uninstall and reinstall from scratch. Saved me hours.

April 15, 2009 5:23 PM

Shaun said:

FYI, our eval version of SQL Server 2008 enterprise just expired. The whole thing, not just SSMS. The SQL Server service is stopped and will not start. I tried the registry hack and then ran the upgrade and it did not work. The setup program returns the error "The selected SQL Server instance does not meet upgrade matrix requirements." even though it clearly does. This is part of a 2008 cluster using SQL Server 64 bit. I called Microsoft and was told once the eval period has expired, there is no other choice but to uninstall and reinstall.

April 22, 2009 6:33 PM

Jonathan Kehayias said:


I am pretty sure that if you change the system date backwards on the servers to a date before the Eval expired, you can run the upgrade.  Be very careful doing this, and only do it with SQL Server shutdown, since you are changing the date completely on the machine and anything date based inside SQL will be incorrect if the database is still running.  This should let you upgrade the server side of the Eval Edition based on what I remember testing this previously.  Unfortunately, I am not in a position to test it myself, but I can next week if you need me to.

April 22, 2009 8:54 PM

Shaun said:

Update: We happened to have a Microsoft consultant on-site and he took a look at this. I was using the command line to try to upgrade the server. He ran did the upgrade using the GUI version of Edition Upgrade and it worked.

April 23, 2009 12:52 PM

frankie said:

I USE THE vs2008 Valuation ,and did exactly as you say,but could not fix it . by the way my OS is vista.

looking for replay!

June 23, 2009 12:05 PM

Jonathan Kehayias said:


This post is specific to SQL Server 2008.  I don't know what would need to be done for Visual Studio 2008.

June 23, 2009 1:11 PM

Lonnie Meinke said:

Thank you for your post.  Even the Microsoft site, while acknowledging this bug does not post the correct fix.  Microsoft's directions do not clearly identify the folder then the actual entry to modify in my named instance.

Thank you so much....I had no more options but to uninstall until I stumbled across this

August 11, 2009 1:20 PM

Dave Gunning said:

Many, many thanks. This worked and allowed me to upgrade Management Studio and Business Intelligence Developemnt Studio.

August 12, 2009 5:08 AM

Marlen said:

I am try to upgrade my trial version of SQLServer 2008 Enterprise E but returning to Express edition, the upgrade finalize ok but I still see SQLServer 2008 in my programs.I expected to find SQKServer Express 2008 or similar and also after having applied the registry change to 3 in the order you said (before my update) I still getting same problem with the expiered version message. I am new with SQLServer.

Thanks for your help

October 18, 2009 12:27 AM

Jonathan Kehayias said:

To go from Enterprise Trial to Express, you would have to completely remove the Enterprise tools reboot, and then install the Express Tools.  There is no backwards migration path between the SKU's from Enterprise to Express.

October 20, 2009 9:21 AM

J Spencer said:

Is there a way to upgrade without the media? Can I order a license somewhere and just install it. I have a site running on sql server 2008 eval and tomorrow is the 181st day. SSMS already went down, but the sql server engine is still running, I have a feeling not for long. I guess I will have to order the dvd over the internet but I would prefer it if I could avoid letting the site go down.

October 27, 2009 5:50 PM

Jonathan Kehayias said:

J Spencer,

You should contact Microsoft Licensing about this problem.  If you have a volume license you can download the ISO from the internet, but you can likely get a key from them as well with purchase.

October 27, 2009 6:21 PM

Kirby L. Wallace said:

At some point, it's going to be quicker and/or easier to just detatch the databases, uninstall and reinstall from scratch, and then reattach, no?  That's really not a very complicated thing to do, and not much more time consuming than this "hack the registry and re-upgrade" thing.  And, besides... I'd have a LOT more confidence in a complete reinstall than I would a partially replaced upgrade.

Great advice, though, and thanks for it!

October 28, 2009 9:52 AM

Kirby L. Wallace said:

Maybe nevermind what I said before.

I completely forgot that the "Upgrade Edition" part of the install has an option for upgrading just the "Shared Components" features alone (such as ssms).  And that's much quicker than a complete reinstall!  ;-)

October 28, 2009 9:56 AM

PAT said:

my trial sql server 2008 will expire in 3 days, i've run the sql standard 2008 license cd and it automatically input the product key and the files or database created in it were seems to be intact.  My problem is the SQL SERVER MANAGEMENT STUDIO 2008 still appears that it will expire on 3 days, HOW AM I GOING TO FIX THIS, or HOW CAN I CHECK IF I INSTALLED CORRECTLY THE LICENSED SQL SERVER STANDARD 2008?

January 25, 2010 9:26 PM

Ali said:

Jonathan Kehayias,

please be informed that I’ve installed evaluation copy at customer side,Should I apply the above on each node (as u know in cluster we deploy SQL 2008 on two steps “installation and completion”), please advise me what I should do.

Awaiting your fast reply to help me in this

February 6, 2010 4:46 AM

Matt Haynes said:

We've experienced the exact issue described here. We had a trial version of SQL server 2008 on top of which we installed a licensed version.  We've made the registry changed described but when we go to run the edition upgrade tool it is prompting us for a licence key.  The trouble is the installation was pre-pided so we haven't got a licence key to enter!  Currently the SSMS and the integration service has gone down.  The latter means that two of the overnight jobs cannot run.  I don't know how we are going to resolve this without a really difficult job on our hands.  Any suggestions would be appreciated...

February 16, 2010 9:43 AM

Jan said:

VERY VERY VERY well done!

February 26, 2010 6:57 AM

ahmad_haffez said:

1000 Thanks

March 17, 2010 8:23 AM

Server said:

How come the above solution is not working for me? When i do the same, i get the below message:

Cannot Edit Commonfiles: Error writing value's new content.

Please help..

May 3, 2010 11:23 AM

Jose said:

"rerun the Edition Upgrade" Where do I find that tool?

June 8, 2010 10:09 AM

faizan said:

Million Thanks!. this will save my many hours.

June 10, 2010 3:57 PM

Michael said:

Thanks this was very helpfull

June 20, 2010 8:15 AM

HSingh said:

Hello Mate it works...

It works like a charm.. I struggled with it for two days as I was doing it on cluster and I was little sacred that it might break my cluster. However Everything went well.. It is working fine now... Thanks lot end of Suffering.

July 2, 2010 7:48 AM

Waheed Ahmed Shaik said:

Thanks a lot, i was looking some work around and as you suggested in this article really helped it to overcome the situation.

July 25, 2010 7:04 AM

Ronald Akkerman said:

Upgrading an expired avaluation SQL2008 enterprise worked as Jonathan suggested, turn the date back, restart, run the upgrade, reset the date. Many thanks from the Netherlands!

August 2, 2010 6:11 PM

sidiq said:

Thanks Ronald Akkerman

Changing date to Backward , works fine , later we can change the Key and Upgrade



August 3, 2010 8:07 AM

greg said:

ss2008r2 expired express > enterprise .. is it change date back, restart, run update gui with no command line options, change date back, restart?   for some reason ive tried this method and it doesnt work.

August 11, 2010 9:10 PM

Joe said:

So do I need to uninstall the expired instance and then reinstall. I just want to reinstall another evaluation edition and keep my databases intact. I am afraid I may lose all my data

August 18, 2010 6:03 PM

shashidhar said:

I installed sql server 2008 first and could login into it.Then I installed visual studio 2010 ,but after installation when i tried to login into sql server it is showing Evaluation period Expired contact Microsoft to buy!! what shal i do???

September 30, 2010 11:38 AM

Ron Patrick said:

I was running 2008 R2 and I was able to upgrade the instance using your instructions. However the registry fix for Studio still is not allowing me to launch the Studio without getting the Eval has expired error.

October 19, 2010 7:04 PM

David Colton said:

Life saver. Much appreciated.

December 10, 2010 5:50 AM

Andre Thibodeau said:

Thanks for the blog.

Fixed two issues with our SQL system.

-SQL Server Management Studio failing to start, complaining about eval.

-The automatic backup sql script was failing with error code:

Log Name:      Application


Date:          2/18/2011 12:00:01 AM

Event ID:      208

Task Category: Job Engine

Level:         Warning

Keywords:      Classic

User:          N/A

Computer:      SQL08-NODE1


SQL Server Scheduled Job 'Backup.Subplan_1' (0x6ABA9AA934C24F46BDC18F3149BBBCFC) - Status: Failed - Invoked on: 2011-02-18 00:00:00 - Message: The job failed.  The Job was invoked by Schedule 14 (Backup).  The last step to run was step 1 (Subplan_1).

Posted this to assist other in discovering this issue.



February 20, 2011 11:41 PM

Waleed Al-Qudah said:

To do this upgrade from evaluation to license:

Go to Microsoft SQL Server Configuratio Tools, and navigate to SQL Server installation Center then click the Maintinance link and choose Edition Upgrade.

You may need to reboot the server before continue.

February 23, 2011 7:06 AM
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