Help: SQL Server

Sharing my knowlege about SQL Server Troubleshooting Skills

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    June 2014
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Help : How to get Product Key for SQL Server

Posted by blakhani on June 5, 2014

If you have come here by the search engines to get free product key for the SQL Server then you may want to stop right here and search to some other site. The idea of this post is to help those who are downloading (or downloaded) it from MSDN or volume licensing site or already have a installation media.

Below are some frequent questions which I have seen on forums.

  • Where can I get a product key from MSDN subscription for SQL Server 2012 edition upgrade?
  • How to Find SQL Server product key from an installed instance?
  • How to change SQL Server 2008 R2 product key change on production server?

Most of the question would be answered automatically once you understand how setup works.

When you go to “Subscriber Downloads” page search for SQL Server, and we can easily get the software. I have seen various post in the forum stating they they are seeing “No product key is required” as below.


This is very normal. From SQL 2008 onwards (2008 R2, 2012, 2014), the setup media comes with pre-pidded (except Evaluation and Express editions) Whenever we invoke setup.exe from that location, the PID would be picked automatically and filled in the screen. I have mentioned in one of my previous blog that PID would change the edition of SQL getting installed.

I have the media, how to get the PID?

When we run setup.exe from the media, the PID is picked from DefaultSetup.ini file located under Root\X86 or Root\x64 folder. This file is also used to make slipstream media (refer KB


The file would look like below

;Configuration File
PID="your pid value"

I don’t have that file. What’s wrong?

This would mean that your media is a evaluation media. You need to get full media.

Can I change the product key?

There are various product keys for same edition of SQL. You can use “edition upgrade” and change product key (assuming no edition change)

I have installed Evaluation Edition and want to upgrade to Enterprise Edition / Standard Edition

I have already written a blog on that. Can I Upgrade SQL Edition without reinstall?

Can I get PID for installed version?

The value is stored in registry in obfuscated format and there could be software to convert that. In good world, you may not need to use such software because if you have media, you know how to get product key.

  • Cheers,
  • Balmukund Lakhani
  • Twitter @blakhani
  • Author: SQL Server 2012 AlwaysOnPaperback, Kindle
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    9 Responses to “Help : How to get Product Key for SQL Server”

    1. manu said


    2. Cecul said

      I downloaded SQL Server Standart from VLSC and installed. I have checked \x64\DefaultSetup.ini file in my setup media and there is a PID. This means my MS SQL Server isn’t evaluation, correct?

    3. Glenn said

      Thanks, just what I needed. One quick question if you have the time. A company is installing SQL server runtime on our server, to run their software for a parking project. Should I be able to use a regular SQL server standard CD Key after the runtime software is installed? I have downloaded the standard version from the Microsoft Business Center.

      • blakhani said

        does their software for a parking project use SQL Server? You can use the key in SQL Server installation UI (or command prompt)

        • Glenn said

          Thank you.
          Yes their software does use SQL server and being able to locate the CD key in the DefaultSetup.ini is very helpful.

    4. Angel Torres said

      I currently have an MSDN subscription and use SQL to test my programs. I am interested in buy the Enterprise Edition and have looked around the internet for the cheapest price. I see some people selling it cheaply. How would I be able to tell if the software is a true retail version or part of an MSDN subscription. It seems a lot of people I reselling the keys to a MSDN subscription SQL but trying to state it is a full retail product. How can I tell the difference?

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