I have found or have been told about a few ways to move WSS 3.0 databases from the Windows Internal Database to SQL Server 2005. As I read them, however, I find I have more questions.

Two I found (How do I move WSS 3.0 for "Windows Internal Database" to the full SQL Server 2005?, Reinstalling SharePoint to run under SQL server 2005 instead of Windows internal database) indicate a pretty scary operation. Backing up the entire site, removing WSS 3.0 from the server, reinstalling it with the Advanced option, re-setting up the information necessary in Central Operations, then restoring the site.

A third one (Migrate content databases from Windows Internal Database to an instance of SQL Server) shows how to move the content DBs but not the search DB and I'm unclear on what it doesn't go through uninstalling/reinstalling WSS 3.0.

Fortunately, my server runs on ESXi and I can clone the VM for trial runs without corrupting the current install.

The short story behind this is when my colleague installed WSS, he thought he chose the right options to make sure it would installed into SQL 2005, of which we have a licensed instance on the same server. That didn't happen. I am researching how to move it as the company has really embraced Sharepoint and are putting so much data into it I am concerned they'll reach 4gb any day now. (Lots of Quicktime movies, JPEGs, PDFs, etc.)

I'd love an answer re: whether I need to follow a tutorial that demands on the WSS uninstall/reintsall or move the DBs as in the third suggestion.

Or if anyone has done this before and used a procedure, that would be helpful too!

I am not at all opposed to migrating to a newer version of Sharepoint.

1 Answer 1


I recommend upgrading to SharePoint Foundation 2010 or better yet Search Server Express which is also free, but extends Foundation with more features, especially better search.

In Foundation, there is a documented procedure for moving databases from one server to another that you can apply to this case. In fact, I even found a walkthrough of someone using it to move from SQL Server Express to a Full SQL Server.

However, if you do decide to start a new Farm and move the Content Databases over, you won't lose any data that way. What you will lose is any custom configuration from Central Administration you haven't documented and any customizations that were installed if you move to an entirely new server.

  • Thanks. My anxiety over the whole procedure leads me to this question: Is it more troublesome to upgrade or to stay in WSS 3 and move the DBs into SQL 05? Keep in mind that we're going to do all of this on one server. -- Oh, this might be a wrinkle. We're running Windows Server 2003.
    – tcv
    Commented Jul 16, 2011 at 20:54
  • I just checked and it looks like we have an Open License for Server 2008. Since this is an ESXi server, we could deploy a 2008 Server configuration with Sharepoint 2010 Essentials. Hmmmmmmm....
    – tcv
    Commented Jul 17, 2011 at 13:56
  • Hmmm... In the second link re: upgrading from Express to full SQL, there are two follow-up questions: 1. Does the full SQL install need to be newer than 2005? (I have licenses for 05, but not any others). 2. Maybe this is something different about Express 2008, but in WSS 3, the database is on a different server address entirely. \\.\pipe\MSSQL$MICROSOFT##SSEE\sql\query vs. \\servername\Sharepoint. I don't see how the author accounted for Sharepoint looking for the DBs in the old location?
    – tcv
    Commented Jul 17, 2011 at 14:11
  • Once its attached to SQL, you attach the DB's to the Web App. You are performing a DB attach upgrade at this point. technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263299.aspx Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 13:40
  • @Jesus -- Thank you much for commenting here, too! Thanks for the link. I am having a production meeting this morning and will bring up the options.
    – tcv
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 14:01

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