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SQL Server Express is Microsoft’s free database edition, and it can be used in the Azure Cloud. It’s a great solution for small server-driven applications. It provides many of the same features of the paid, full versions of Microsoft SQL Server database management systems, though it does have technical restrictions that make it unsuitable for some larger applications. 

Since there are so many database products from Microsoft, it’s easy to get confused! This post will explain SQL Server Express in more detail, what you can expect from it and who we recommend it for. Remember, this is just general advice. For personalized recommendations, schedule a consultation with Arkware. 

What is SQL Server Express, Exactly? 

Microsoft SQL Server Express is a version of Microsoft’s SQL Server relational database management system. It is free to download, use and distribute, and it specifically targets small-scale applications. Since the product is free to use, there are some limitations to be aware of. 

For example, SQL Server Express has limited capacity: 

  • 10GB maximum database size
  • 1GB maximum memory used by the database engine
  • 1 MB maximum buffer cache 

Fortunately, there are plenty of benefits to using SQL Server Express. They include: 

  • Fully supported by Microsoft, including patches and updates 
  • Automated backups 
  • Scalable and 100% compatible with paid editions 
  • Impressive features such as business intelligence, reporting and advanced analytics 

While SQL Server Express does have its limitations in terms of size, CPU and memory, it’s far from an inferior product. It can be a great solution for lightweight or standalone applications, and it can be upgraded to any paid edition when the need arises.

Who Might Benefit from SQL Server Express? 

Due to its limitations, SQL Server Express is useful for a niche audience, such as independent software vendors, developers and hobbyists building client applications. Again, if you need more advanced features, you can update to another version of SQL Server

There is also SQL Server Express LocalDB, which is a lightweight version of Express. It has the same programmability features, runs in user mode and has a fast, zero-configuration installation. LocalDB can serve as an embedded database for a small application, whereas SQL Server Express is a more robust, full-featured database solution. 

Still have questions about whether SQL Server Express is right for you? Schedule a consultation with the database programming experts from Arkware.