Unable to reinstall SQL Server 2008 Express edition

Posted on 2009-12-17
Last Modified: 2012-05-08

When we try to install MS SQL Server 2008 Express edition it thinks that it is already installed.

We have removed it from Add/Remove programs, I also used the Windows Uninstall cleaner utility and it is not in there.

we tried both the web installer as well as the full offline installer.

the Web one just says that SQL is already installed, while the Offline version fails at setting up the instance saying the instance name is already in use (prior installation)

any idea on how we can clean this up so that the user can do a nice clean install?

thank you.
Question by:harris_luc
    LVL 41

    Expert Comment

    Are you sure there is no instance left on computer? Did you check running Services?
    You may try to install it as named instance.

    The simplest idea is to reinstall the whole PC (with format C:).
    LVL 31

    Expert Comment

    some basic references:
    Since claim is that it is already installed:

    1. You already did the add/remove software step, but you can double-check. I have 8 occurrences of Microsoft Sql Server 2008 applications installed. Remove all of them until none remain.


    Here's what I had to do in for a different application.
    2. Create Restore Point for backup

    3. Backup registry

    4. If you still have any icons or Start references to SQL Server (any version), do a Properties on it to identify all folder locations (record them)

    5. As admin, check registry for keywords. See following steps 2-6 in:

    6 Delete each occurrence, and as you are looking, write down other key phrases that look good
      -- delete folder only if entire folder is associated with sql server; other only delete entry

    7. If you found suspect file system folder names in the Registry, but are not sure, then rename them to <original_name-backup>; and record the path - it may be needed for another program.

    8. Delete the entire Program folders such as "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server Compact Edition" and "C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server"
    LVL 35

    Expert Comment

    by:David Todd

    If this is a new server, strongly encourage you to start from scratch.

    If this is an existing server, then do take all precautions.

    Short answer is that you are going to need to hack it out of the registry.

    Remember, take all precautions! Restore points, registry backups, renaming keys instead of deleting them, take your time and all care ...

    If you possibly can, suggest that you start again with a fresh install!! Way safer, easier to sleep at night. What is likely to happen, is that your hack wont be clean, and in a few months, you'll be wondering if that new weird problem is just a new problem or a result of your hack, and now you can't simply reinstall the server ...


    LVL 13

    Accepted Solution

    Very good article for uninstalling sql server 2008 manually. Please find the link below:
    LVL 35

    Expert Comment

    by:David Todd


    I've done similar in the past.

    Let me say it again: You do this and think you have succeeded, and months done the track when problem x appears, your first thoughts will be "Did I do it right?" and "Were thouse instructions right?"

    If you possibly can, I strongly recommend that you reinstall from stratch instead of going on a registry hunt.


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