Having trouble accessing a recently installed instance of MSDE? Make sure the MSSQLSERVER service is started!

I just spent ages trying to work out why I couldn’t access the Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE) instance that an application had just installed… it may sound obvious, but make sure the MSSQLSERVER service is started!

In my defence, if an application requires a server or service restart after installation, I expect it to tell me that’s what it needs, but the version of MSDE 2000 SP3A downloaded by Altiris Notification Server 6.0 didn’t seem to do that. I had similar problems a few weeks back whilst playing around with Community Server. On both occasions, I though it might be a problem with my security credentials so I downloaded the SQL Server Web Data Administrator but that couldn’t access the database either. It was only once I’d checked that all the MSDE services were running (MSSQLSERVER was not) that everything jumped into life.

Another tip whilst I’m on the subject – MSDE 2000 SP3A requires a strong password to be set for the sa user. If using a repackaged version of MSDE (as I was), try extracting the package and examining the setup files to find the SA password that has been set as part of the application installation (e.g. using the SAPWD= option for setup.exe).

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