Home > DBA Stuff, SQL Errors > SQL DBA – Windows could not start the SQL Server… refer to service-specific error code 17051 – SQL Server Evaluation period has expired

SQL DBA – Windows could not start the SQL Server… refer to service-specific error code 17051 – SQL Server Evaluation period has expired

Ok, one fine day you opened SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) and tried to connect to a SQL Instance, but it is not getting connected. You are getting following error message on a popup box:

Cannot connect to XYZ_Instance.


A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a 
connection to SQL Server. The server was not found or was not accessible. 
Verify that the instance name is correct and that SQL Server is configured 
to allow remote connections.  (provider: Named Pipes Provider, error: 40 - 
Could not open a connection to SQL Server) (Microsoft SQL Server, Error: 2)

The system cannot find the file specified.


–> You may also get following error:

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio
Evaluation period has expired. For information on how to upgrade your evaluation software please go to http://www.microsoft.com/sql/howtobuy

–> Investigate

Go to RUN and type services.msc to open Services window and see that SQL Server services are not running. On starting the SQL Server service it is giving you following message with error code 17051:

SQL Evaluation expiry 01

Now as per the error message you open the Event Viewer and see that the Event with ID 17051, which shows SQL Server Evaluation period has expired under Details section:

SQL Evaluation expiry 02

Now, you recall that the Instance that you had installed was under Evaluation of 180 days, because you didn’t applied any Product Key. So, now how can you make it live again? All you need is a Product key of SQL Server and some clicks:

1. Open the SQL Server Installation Center and click on Maintenance link, and then click on Edition Upgrade:
SQL Evaluation expiry 03

2. Now on the Upgrade window Click Next and you will reach the Product Key page, apply the Key and click Next:
SQL Evaluation expiry 04

3. On the Select Instance page, select the SQL Instance that you want to fix and Click next. It will take some time and finally you will see a final window and click Upgrade:
SQL Evaluation expiry 05

4. Finally you will see the successful window, click on Close button:
SQL Evaluation expiry 06

–> But, if the above process fails at Engine_SqlEngineHealthCheck step or anywhere in between, then you can use following command line installation option to skip this specific rule to allow the upgrade process to complete successfully:

a) Open Command Prompt (CMD)

b) Go to the folder where SQL Server Setup, setup.exe file is located (like C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Setup Bootstrap\SQLServer2012\)

c) Apply following command: setup.exe /q /ACTION=editionupgrade /InstanceName=MSSQLSERVER /PID=<appropriatePid> /SkipRules= Engine_SqlEngineHealthCheck

The <appropriatePid> should be the 25 digit Key.

The above command line runs SQL Server setup in silent mode.

5. Now Restart the SQL Server Service for this Instance, and you will see it running fine.

–> Finally, go back to SSMS and now you can connect to the SQL Instance.

  1. December 28, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you very much for your post… helps me 🙂

  2. Nishant
    July 31, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    Resolve the problem. Thanx.

  3. harish reddy
    February 6, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    wonderful………… that’s awesome…. you solved my issue…. thank you very much…….

  4. Charles Ndanga
    September 7, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    Awesome very helpful indeed>

  5. Cathrine
    September 22, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you for the information , it solved my issue.

  1. December 31, 2020 at 2:37 pm
  2. January 3, 2022 at 10:55 am

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