1st Timer - VS Studio Can't Connect To SQL Server Express

I have just started using Visual Studio and SQL Server - I mean just.  And I can't do the most basic thing, which is more than frustrating.  I've checked the KnowledgeBase and surprisingly did not find a similar question (I suppose I must be really remedial then).

I am trying to add a SQL Server Express db as a data source.  It's errored out with the following messages (I am trying out both VS 6.0 & VS 2008):

In VS 6.0, I get this error:

A network-related or instance-specific error has occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server.  Server is not found or not accessible.  Check if instance name is correct and if SQL Server is configured to allow remote connections.
Named Pipes Provider: Could not open a connection to SQL Server [2]

In VS 2008, I get a similar error.

I've tried different things, but I got nowhere.  Please help!  It's like it's Christmas, I've got this huge present, but I can't get the wrapping off the package!  :(
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ddayx10Connect With a Mentor Commented:
Connection Strings are data packaged in such a way that your application knows how to find and communicate with your datasource.

Usually the term "Data Link Window" would be a description for the window that displays when you use the "Connect to Database" option in Server Explorer. I'm sure I've seen it somewhere else, but I'm having trouble referencing how exactly you are coming accross it. I am also finding it strange that you are finding the term "SQL Server Native Client 10.0" in this dialogue. Not that its a bad term it just tells me you are looking at something I wasnt expecting.

So many things could be wrong here it's not funny. Try connecting this way, using VS 2008:
1) Open Server Explorer (View>>Server Explorer if you dont see it)
2) Choose "Connect to Database" button.
3) Select Microsoft SQL Server(Sql Client) as the Data source.
4) You said you selected the server before, what did you select?
In the "Server Name" box I didn't have my sqlexpress instance name by default and I have to type in .\sqlexpress OR [COMPUTER DESCRIPTION]\sqlexpress
5) Windows Auth is fine, unless you specifically changed this setting during install of sqlexpress
**If sqlexpress installed with your version of visual studio dont sweat my reference to installing it
6)Choose test connection button and see what gives.
SQL also has to be setup properly for this connection to work. Have you opened your sqlexpress instance using SQL Server Management Studio? If you dont have that tool just do a search for it on the web, its free from the mfg.

As previously mentioned the protocols for sqlexpress need to be enabled for tcp/ip. After you enabled that it should have prompted you to restart the service. If you did not do this it will not connect.

Also by some weird chance if the service isnt running you will not connect.  In SQL Server Configuration Manager, under SQL Server 200x Services make sure SQL Server(SQLEXPRESS) is running (this is where you would restart the service when prompted as well).

If you cant connect still then I wonder if you changed the authentication method during install of sql server express? Otherwise this should work.

Good Luck,

Can you show us the connection string you use to connect in the database?
Aside from the connection string, which is a great place to start, the most common answer to why this is not working is that by default sqlexpress does not have the tcp/ip protocol enabled.

Open SQL Server Configuration Manager.
Open SQL Server 200x Network Configuration branch
On Protocols for SQLEXPRESS make sure TCP/IP is enabled (it is disabled by defalt)

Good Luck,

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humbleamateurAuthor Commented:
Unfortunately, that didn't fix it.
I'm going to show my ignorance on this one - what exactly are these connection strings I keep reading about?
I was attempting to connect by: Adding a Data Link from the Data Link Window  >  Selecting SQL Server Native Client 10.0 as the OLE Db Provider  >  in Connection tab, selecting the Server, choosing Windows authentication, & then it errors out when I click the dropdown for Database
Thanks again for your help!
humbleamateurAuthor Commented:
That worked!  Thanks so much!!
Chris LuttrellSenior Database ArchitectCommented:
Hi humbleamateur,
What was your actual problem/ final solution? others were wathcing this thread for the solution.
humbleamateurAuthor Commented:
I had to enable TCP/IP, because the default for that was disabled like dday said.
It finally worked when I followed dday's advice to type in "[COMPUTER DESCRIPTION]\sqlexpress" for the server.  I had had no idea what was required in that field and just assumed that whatever was in the dropdown list was what was wanted.
Also, when I was following the steps in dday's final post, I received an error - something like "Data log is full."  I did a quick search on EE's Knowledgebase & found a working solution in less than a minute.
So, EE came through in many ways extremely quickly, as always!
Chris LuttrellSenior Database ArchitectCommented:
Thanks for the info. It will help others that search the Knowledgebase like you did.
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