Running SQL Express and SQL Standard simultaneous

On a simple dev-machine I would usually only install the SQL express edition. While this is sufficient for local development for simple databases, this doesn’t give me a GUI to manage my database.

Espically in bigger projects I might want to work with the database directly, or maybe I want to look or edit a database on an separate server. This doesn’t work at all with the express edition.

OK, so instead I install the regular edition of SQL Server. This gives me the Management Studio to easily manage my databases, but unfortunately this denies some features of the express edition, which only available in the express edition. One feature is attaching standalone mdf files as database. This is a feature needed especially for web-application, because a lot of ASP.Net data is stored in such an attached mdf file.

A common scenario for SQL 2005 was to have both express and the “regular” edition installed side-by-side. Beasue these editions come each with their own installer and seem to be considered separate products, this install does cause some problems. For example you will most likely not be able to install neither SP2 for the express edition nor the regular editions.

SQL 2008 seems to relief this pain a lot, because the installer offers to install the regular edition as well as express edition. This allows to install both editions and run them side by side.

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