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Considerations for Installing SQL Server Using SysPrep

Stand-alone installation of SQL Server includes two actions: prepare and complete. In SQL Server 2008, these two actions are run as one integrated step during the installation process. Starting with SQL Server 2008 R2, in addition to the integrated one step installation of a stand-alone instance of SQL Server, a two step installation is also available. The steps include the following: 

  • Prepare Image

    This step installs the product binaries, without configuring the computer, network, or account-specific information for the instance of SQL Server that is being prepared.

  • Complete image

    This step enables you to complete the configuration of a prepared instance of SQL Server. During this step, you can provide the computer, network, and account-specific information.

You can use the SQL Server SysPrep capability in any of the following ways:

  • By using the Prepare Image step, you can prepare one or more unconfigured instances of SQL Server on the same computer. You can configure these prepared instances by using the Complete Image step on the same computer.

  • You can capture the SQL Server Setup configuration file of the prepared instance and use it to prepare additional unconfigured SQL Server instances on multiple computers for later configuration.

  • In combination with the Windows System Preparation tool (also known as Windows SysPrep); you can create an image of the operating system including the unconfigured prepared instances of SQL Server on the source computer. You can then deploy the operating system image to multiple computers. After you complete the configuration of the operating system, you can configure the prepared instances by using the Complete Image step of SQL Server Setup.

    The Windows SysPrep tool is used to prepare Windows operating system images. It is used to capture a customized image of the operating system for deployment throughout an organization. For more information about SysPrep and its uses, see What is SysPrep in Microsoft TechNet.

The Prepare Image step installs the SQL Server product and features but does not configure the installation. The only features that you can select during SysPrep installations are Database Engine and Reporting Services. SQL Server Browser and SQL Server Writer are automatically prepared when you prepare an instance of SQL Server. They are completed when you complete the SQL Server instance by using the Complete Image step. The SQL Server Native Client is automatically installed and completed at the end of the prepare image step.

The SQL Server features to be installed and the installation location for SQL Server product installation files can be specified during this step. If you do not specify the installation location, the default location is used. The binaries are placed in the installation folder The local administrator group and the local system account have access to this folder.

Important noteImportant

The account running SQL Server Setup on the computer must be an administrator on that computer.

You can prepare an instance of SQL Server either through the Image Preparation of a stand-alone instance for SysPrep deployment on the Advanced page of the Installation Center or from the command prompt.

After the instance is prepared, a shortcut on the Start menu becomes available to complete the configuration of the prepared instance of SQL Server.

You can complete the prepared instances of SQL server by using either of the following methods:

  • Use the shortcut on the Start menu.

  • Access the Image completion of a prepared stand-alone instance step on the Advanced page of the Installation Center.

Installation Media Considerations

If you are using a full version of SQL Server, consider the following:

  • Non-Express editions of SQL Server:

    • The Prepare Image step uses SQL Server Evaluation edition to install the product binaries. When the instance is completed, the edition of SQL Server depends on the product ID provided during the complete image step.

    • If you provide an Evaluation edition product ID, the evaluation period is set to expire 180 days after the prepared instance is completed.

  • Express editions of SQL Server:

    • To prepare an instance of SQL Server Express editions, use the Express installation media.

    • You cannot specify Product IDs for a prepared instance of SQL Server Express editions.

Supported SQL Server Installations

Only certain features support installing SQL Server by Using SysPrep. The supported scenarios are listed here:

  • You can prepare an instance of SQL Server, Database Engine, and Reporting Services. SQL Server Browser, SQL Server Writer, and SQL Server Native Client are installed automatically when you prepare an instance of SQL Server.

  • You can add or remove features that are supported for SysPrep installations from the existing prepared instances of SQL Server

  • You can prepare multiple instances for side-by-side installations of SQL Server 2008 R2 or later versions.

  • For information about supported editions of SQL Server, see Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server 2008 R2.

    NoteNote

    SQL Server SysPrep does not support preparing SQL Server failover cluster instances.

  • You can perform an edition upgrade while configuring a prepared instance of SQL Server. This option is not supported for SQL Server Express editions.

Updating Considerations

SQL Server updates can be applied to both prepared instances and completed instances of SQL Server.

SQL Server SysPrep Limitations

When you use SysPrep to install SQL Server, be aware of the following limitations:

  • SQL Server SysPrep is not supported for SQL Server failover cluster installations.

  • SQL Server SysPrep is only supported for Database Engine, and Reporting Services installations of SQL Server.

  • SQL Server tools are not supported for SQL Server SysPrep installations.

  • IA-64 installations are not supported for SQL Server SysPrep installations.

  • Repairing a prepared instance is not supported. If Setup fails during the Prepare Image or Complete Image step, you must run uninstall.

  • You cannot prepare an instance of SQL Server 2008 R2 on a computer that is running a version of SQL Server that is earlier than SQL Server 2008 R2.

  • You can install a supported version of SQL Server when there is already a prepared instance of SQL Server. The exception to this is SQL Server 2005. SQL Server 2005 installation does not support an existing unconfigured prepared SQL Server Browser on the computer. Installing SQL Server 2005 Database Engine or Analysis Services on a computer that has an existing prepared instance of SQL Server 2008 R2 Database Engine will cause the installation of SQL Server 2005 to fail as the prepare image includes SQL Server Browser. You must first complete the prepared instance of SQL Server 2008 R2 before you install SQL Server 2005 Database Engine or Analysis Services.

  • If an instance of SQL Server 2000 is installed on a computer that already contains a prepared installation of SQL Server 2008 R2, the presence of the prepared SQL Server 2008 R2 Browser Service will disable the SQL Server 2000 instance name resolution. This prevents connections to any instance of SQL Server 2000 that does not listen on the default TCP port (1433) or named pipe. This includes all named instances of SQL Server 2000 and SQL Server Express. Remote connections to SQL Server 2000 may be impossible unless the port number or the named pipe is supplied as part of the connection string.

For more information about how to install SQL Server using SysPrep, see How to: Install SQL Server 2008 R2 Using SysPrep.

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