SQL Server In Place Upgrades3 min read

Good morning dear blog reader.

Today’s episode is fresh from a great weekend with the family. It is always fun to go on a road trip with my wife and son.

Let’s talk more about SQL Server Installations since my previous post covered a similar topic. In this post, I felt I would stick with a similar theme.

As many of you know, working in the world of SQL Server, it is hard to keep all of your systems current from a version perspective. SQL Server releases a new major version every 1-3 years. Sometimes those versions have vast improvements, and other times there are less dramatic enhancements.

With sizes of estates being different and application compatibility not always on track with SQL Server releases, it is hard to keep a consistent version across all servers.

When this happens and your SQL Server version ages, it will eventually be out of support from Microsoft. This can cause management to panic and become unrealistic when they feel a system might not be able to be supported by a vendor.

When this knee Jerk reaction occurs, and no one will listen to logic and planning, you might be forced to upgrade your existing SQL Server version to a version that is going to be supported.

In my experience, two options exist to get the desired result. One, create a new server, install the latest supported version of SQL Server, and migrate your data. Two, upgrade SQL Server on the existing server.

There are pros and cons to each of these options. My preference is to go with option number one as it allows you more flexibility in your migration plan. However, many smaller shops might not have the hardware resources for this option, so they are forced to option number two.

The information for this post will cover option number two and show you how to perform an in-place SQL Server upgrade from SQL Server 2012 to SQL Server 2019.


You can perform steps before the upgrade to ensure your current SQL Server can support the new version.

I recommend running the Data Migration Assistant, or DMA for short.

Verify the version of Windows OS is supported with SQL Server 2019. This is often overlooked as a pre-planning step. If you are upgrading SQL Server because it is aging, the likely hood of the Operating System being in the same boat is likely.



Upgrade Steps

Once you have planned your upgrade maintenance window and have done all of your pre-planning, it is time for the upgrade.

Here are the steps I would follow to complete the upgrade.

  1. If your server is virtualized, you should power it down and take a virtual snapshot.
  2. Take a full or differential backup of all databases
  3. Launch the Setup.exe from your installation media
  4. On the main Installation screen, choose Upgrade from a previous version of SQL Server
  5. Choose the instance you are attempting to upgrade from the drop-down list
  6. Navigate through the screens selecting the appropriate options, then start the Upgrade
  7. You will be notified of the upgrade status once everything is complete
  8. Make sure your instance is running, and you can login
  9. Apply the latest CU for SQL Server 2019


There you have it, a freshly upgraded SQL Server fully supported by Microsoft.

Of course, I know this can be more complicated. I am just taking this from a database engine upgrade with little outside influence on planning and decision-making.

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