Upgrading After Evaluation Edition Expires

SQL Server Evaluation editions are great to use for testing early releases. When the real deal comes out, it’s best to upgrade then and there (probably Evaluation to Developer if you’re testing and experimenting). But what happens if you let an evaluation edition expire by accident? The good news is you can still upgrade but it’s a bit tedious.

Let’s take a look at an example.

Signs of Danger

Logging onto a test server, I was greeted with this message:

No worries, the SQL Service probably isn’t running and needs started. I opened up SQL Server Configuration Manager, selected to start my service, and got another error:

What about trying to open up services.msc and starting the service from there:

Service-specific error code 17051 doesn’t sound too good.

I checked Event Viewer and found the real cause of my problem. I’m still on SQL Server 2022 Evaluation and the SQL Server evaluation period has expired:

Time Traveler

Since the service won’t start, it’s too late to upgrade today. Thankfully, you can set your computer date/time back a few days or weeks to get back in the window before the evaluation period expired. I learned this trick from this Brent Ozar blog post.

I ran the installer for SQL Server 2022 Developer Edition and disconnected from the network. I then reset my time back a month, started the SQL service successfully, and proceeded to upgrade from Evaluation to Developer. When selecting Maintenance from the SQL Server Installation Center, I was given the option to upgrade but was only able to upgrade SQL Browser and SQL Writer:

Those features upgraded successfully but that didn’t upgrade my SQL Server edition. I still couldn’t correct my date/time and start the SQL service.

If I selected Installation and then “Upgrade from a previous version of SQL Server” all the way at the bottom, that allowed me to upgrade Database Engine Services and get fully upgraded from Evaluation to Developer:

Save the Headaches

Maybe I missed a step somewhere, maybe it’s something different with SQL Server 2022. Either way, stay on top of your servers and get them upgraded before you have to hassle with upgrading expired evaluation versions.

Thanks for reading!

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