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. 🙂


  1. Pingback: NoGeekLeftBehind.com » Upgrading SQL Evaluation to Volume License

  2. 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!

  3. What about if you need to change your current installation from cal to cor license..how do you do that ?

  4. Thanks for the post. Helped to go straight to the point.

  5. You Rock – great post – thanks!

  6. 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

  7. Thanks for finally writing about >Upgrading SQL Server 2008 R2 from Evaluation to Licensed | Jephens Tech.
    <Liked it!

  8. just worked for me…thanks for the post. saved me lots of work i am sure. 🙂 –john

  9. Thanks for the posting Jeff, really good of you to share this with us and save us a lot of wasted time. Best regards, Martin

  10. Chris Luttrell

    Thanks! The same logic worked for me with SQL 2012. Saved me from a long uninstall/reinstall.

  11. 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

  12. Maybe it only works with a retail key?

  13. Wouldn’t work for me. I have a VL key. Guess I will reinstall.

  14. Thanks so much 🙂

  15. Thanks..nice post

  16. 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?

  17. 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

  18. Waleed deserves an epic man hug!!!

  19. Thanks a lot for this post! Why do people like to complicate things..

  20. Thanks for this post, saved me a lot time!

  21. Great post, thanks! I love how Microsoft makes things harder than they have to be.

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