Upgrading SQL Server 2008 R2 from Evaluation to Licensed


As a Microsoft partner, we have access to software resources to help us do our jobs while getting ourselves familiar with the MS family of products.

We had an in-house project that needed SQL Server, so we installed SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise in Evaluation mode, since we didn’t have the product key handy.

Install went fine, server works great, everyone is happy.

170 or so days go by and we run an SSIS package and notice the warning “Evaluation Version, will expire in 8 days”  Wha?  Do a quick Select @@Version and sure enough, we’re still running the evaluation version… in a production environment.  (Facepalm!)

Searching around for how to turn my eval version into a licensed version (we finally got around to requesting the key from MS) showed all sorts of solutions, none of them seemed to really fit the bill.

Some people admonished “You’re using Eval software in a  production environment!?? Serves you right!  Uninstall/reinstall!” others required odd registry hacks to make the setup program run — it all seemed so complex for what should be a pretty simple process.

Lo and behold, buried at the very end of the comments attached to one of these complex blog posts, was the simplest of solutions from a chap named Waleed Al-Qudah:

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

Two minutes later, we were all legal.

The SQL Server Installation Center is a fairly complicated looking piece of software, and I never noticed that tab nor that option.  Needless to say, I spent a few more minutes looking through it. 🙂

21 thoughts on “Upgrading SQL Server 2008 R2 from Evaluation to Licensed”

  1. This is a wonderful post. I spent 2 days to look for SQL 2008 R2 key and failed to run again but thanks to u for this post where I able to start SQL. Thanks a Ton

  2. At first, great hint! 🙂 But I can’t select the instances from version “10.51.2500”, only “10.50.1600” (without SP1) is able to upgrade. Any idea?

  3. Just a little ditto to add to this.
    We had the same issue as Jeff BUT we had a DVD with the sql 2008 r2 key already populated when you ran the installer from the dvd. When we copied that over manually to the evaluation upgrade path as mentioned above, the key was refused as NOT been genuine even though we knew it was.

    So we put that self same dvd into the dvd drive and when the installer from the dvd started we chose the Edition Upgrade option hoping that it would not blitz our existing sql data etc which we had previously backed up etc. It went through perfectly and SQL came back up fully registered. So just incase anyone is in that position as well hope this helps.

    But a great help Jeff, many thanks

  4. I did installed SQL Server 2008 R2 Entrp. When trying to upgrade “Evaluation” edition I am getting failure message on SQL Server Analysis Services Evaluation rule check and cannot proceed.

    Any comment on this? Thanks

  5. Does anyone know whether putting in a product key this way will cause the instance to restart? I’m in exactly the same situation on a Production server and need to know whether or not I need to schedule downtime to put in this product key. Thanks so much in advance!

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