SQL Server evaluation period has expired:Unable to start SQL services

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It doesn’t happen so often as company always use the licensed SQL server but sometime on Development or Lab environment people use the evaluation edition of SQL server to explore its features that come along this it.

Features of evaluation edition are same as enterprise edition but it has 180 days trail period. Post 180 days services get stuck/stop and you can not bring them UP and you will see the logs in event viewer as below:-

Event Viewer Log.
You may see this error pop-up while attempting SQL services up from services.msc

What does this mean? You will need to license it or if this happens at home while doing some R&D you can change the date of system with some past date and try to bring the services UP.

In this tutorial, we will talk about upgrading the edition SQL 2016 from evaluation to SQL 2016 Enterprise (you can anyway upgrade to standard as well). All we need to know the steps to be followed and yeah most important License keys.


Note:- Please keep in mind while upgrading to standard edition from evaluation edition as evaluation edition comes with Enterprise features (highest features) and you may not see some of the features in standard edition.



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  • Open the SQL server installation center (search the name in the search box of your system)
  • Go to Maintenance tab and click on Edition Upgrade.
Now enter the license Key here.
  • Now accept the license terms.
  • Select the Instance to upgrade from the list.
  • Click next, review the upgrade and Click Upgrade button.

Hope this helps!