Differences Between SQL & SQL Express


SQL Server and SQL Express are different versions of Microsoft's database software, which uses Structured Query Language (SQL) for storing data. There are several versions of SQL Server: Datacenter, Enterprise, Standard, Web and Workgroup. The Enterprise version is the most complete, allowing for the best comparison with other SQL options. The main difference between SQL Server and SQL Express is the latter is used for simple and small databases, while the SQL Server is used for complex and large databases.

Scalability and Performance

  • SQL Server can have up to eight processors and 2 terabytes (TB) of memory, while SQL Express has only one processor and a maximum of 1 gigabyte (GB) of RAM, where 1 TB equals 1,000 GB. Also, SQL Express can have only a maximum of 10 GB of database size, while the SQL Server can have a maximum of 524 petabytes (PB), where one PB equals 1,000 TB. SQL Server allows for more scalability in its database because it has a lot of room to store data.


  • SQL Server is more readily available than SQL Express. In an unlikely event that the database gets corrupted, SQL Server provides more options for backing up the entire database. Mirrored backups and database snapshots that can capture the daily state of the database are available for SQL Server. This allows for faster recovery and restoration of data. Memory and processor support is also available for SQL Server in case of a server failure.


  • Both SQL Server and SQL Express provide high security. They employ data encryption policies and build firewalls around the server to prevent data from being hacked or stolen. One difference between the two when it comes to security is that SQL Server provides an added protection in the event that the physical hard drive containing the database itself is stolen. With Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) it doesn't simply encrypt the database, but also protects the keys that are used to decrypt the database. It uses a certificate to protect the keys and, without it, the physical hard drive is useless.

Integration and Operability

  • SQL Server provides more room for integrating with other software products. It can replicate data for Oracle databases and supports Web services. It allows for easy exporting and importing of data from different sources, which is not available in SQL Express. The SQL Server can perform complex queries and extract information from large databases. It also provides development tools to edit and design the database. It's more programmable and suited for database developers because it provides all the necessary tools to customize the database.

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