SQL Server 2005 SP4 is here!

Yes, the day has finally arrived, and a couple of weeks ahead of schedule.  Typically when Microsoft promises a release in Qx or Hx, the software comes on the last or second last day of that quarter or half.  This year, we get an early Christmas present: SQL Server 2005 SP4.  


To download SP4, go to this link:


If you are looking for the Express versions of SP4, you can get Express, Express with Tools, and Express with Advanced Services at the following URL (though they don't really do a great job of describing which file(s) may be most appropriate for you):


If you want Express that can install on 32-bit or 64-bit systems, download SQLEXPR.EXE.  If you know you will only install to 32-bit systems, download the smaller SQLEXPR32.EXE.  (The only difference is the size of the package – I can hear the peanut gallery now.  In all seriousness, there is no such thing as a 64-bit version of SQL Server Express for SQL Server 2005 – that option first arrived with SQL Server 2008.)  If you want Express with Tools, use SQLEXPR_TOOLKIT.EXE, and if you want Express with Advanced Services, use SQLEXPR_ADV.EXE.


To review the fixes in SP4, see the following Knowledge Base article:


I am not sure why the list is so short – SP4 does contain all of the fixes in Cumulative Updates 1 through 11 for Service Pack 3, and there are definitely more than that handful.  I think this makes the service pack look a lot less useful than it actually is, especially for people who are still on SP3 or its earlier cumulative updates.  Here is the full list of 11 cumulative updates, to make it a little easier to generate the full list of fixes or to find a particular fix you want to make sure is included in the service pack (see below for information about fixes in CU #12):

CU #11 (9.00.4309 – 2010-08-16) : KB #2258854
CU #10 (9.00.4305 – 2010-06-21) : KB #983329
CU #9   (9.00.4294 – 2010-04-19) : KB #980176
CU #8   (9.00.4285 – 2010-02-15) : KB #978915
CU #7   (9.00.4273 – 2009-12-21) : KB #976951
CU #6   (9.00.4266 – 2009-10-19) : KB #974648
CU #5   (9.00.4230 – 2009-08-17) : KB #972511
CU #4   (9.00.4226 – 2009-06-15) : KB #970279
CU #3   (9.00.4220 – 2009-04-20) : KB #967909
CU #2   (9.00.4211 – 2009-02-16) : KB #961930
CU #1   (9.00.4207 – 2008-12-19) : KB #959195

Most importantly (at least IMHO), this service pack finally addresses the MSXML6 issues that have plagued Windows XP SP3 users since at least February of 2009.  From the fix list:

When SQL Server 2005 SP3 is applied on a machine that has a later version of MSXML6 installed, the service pack setup fails. This issue occurs when you upgrade Windows XP SP2 to Windows XP SP3 and then apply SQL Server 2005 SP3. To fix this issue, apply SQL Server 2005 SP4.

Build Number

The build number for SP4 is 9.00.5000.  (This "round number" build is becoming a favorite practice not just within the SQL Server team but across a lot of other Microsoft divisions as well.)  Here is the result of "SELECT @@VERSION;" on my local Express instances, just for fun (notice that even though I am running x64 there is nothing in there that tells you whether the operating system is 32-bit or 64-bit):

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 - 9.00.5000.00 (Intel X86) 
    Dec 10 2010 10:56:29 
    Copyright (c) 1988-2005 Microsoft Corporation
    Express Edition on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7600: )
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 - 9.00.5000.00 (Intel X86) 
    Dec 10 2010 10:56:29 
    Copyright (c) 1988-2005 Microsoft Corporation
    Express Edition with Advanced Services on Windows NT 6.1 (Build 7600: )

Should you update?

You will still need to wait one Cumulative Update (CU) cycle to restore all of the fixes from SP3 CU #12.  As with previous SP releases in the 2008 branches, if you've already applied CU #12 to your SQL Server 2005 SP3 instance (SELECT @@VERSION will show 9.00.4311 or greater, but less than 9.00.4912 – the build for the Service Pack 4 CTP), and you are relying on fixes in that build, you should hold off on SP4 until the first CU for SP4 is released.  Usually this occurs within about a month of the service pack, but given the holidays, at this point I would expect it mid-February.

This will almost certainly be the last service pack for SQL Server 2005 – from this point forward all you're likely to see are cumulative updates to the SP3 and SP4 branches and, roughly a year from today, mainstream support will only need to maintain the SP4 branch.  You can read more about this in the following blog post from the CSS blog:

Mainstream vs Extended Support and SQL Server 2005 SP4: Can someone explain all of this?

Aaron Bertrand

I am a passionate technologist with industry experience dating back to Classic ASP and SQL Server 6.5. I am a long-time Microsoft MVP, write at Simple Talk, SQLPerformance, and MSSQLTips, and have had the honor of speaking at more conferences than I can remember. In non-tech life, I am a father of two, a huge hockey and football fan, and my pronouns are he/him. If I've helped you out, consider thanking me with a coffee. :-)

36 Responses

  1. Shane says:

    I am looking too. I cannot find anywhere and need it to upgrade to SQL2014 along with using Dynamics GP and MR. All Microsoft products. I am a partner so I will email them and see what they can do.

  2. AaronBertrand says:

    @i5mast Yep, I'm not surprised. See the big note at the top of the SP4 KB:
    Time to move on (or search for other sources of SP4 – MSDN, for example, download sites like cnet).

  3. i5mast says:

    Download links to SP4 are not working anymore 🙁

  4. AaronBertrand says:

    Avadhut they worked for me, the regular one linked to here:
    And the Express one linked to here:

  5. avadhut says:

    This download url for sp4 does not render any more

  6. abdulazizfarooqi says:

    can anyone tell me SQL Server 2005 SP4 , is co-related with the windows service pack.
    I know the issues fixed in the Service pack 4, but I need someone who can confirmed me.

  7. Aaron Bertrand says:

    My memory is fuzzy, but it should work. Did you try the normal standalone sp4 installer?

  8. Luis says:

    Hi Aaron,
    I would like to ask the following thing,
    I've installed the SQL Server 2005 express on several machines, but I was designated to update to SP4. If I've already installed the SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, is there only the SP4 (KBxxxxxx) to update without the SQLExpress installer?

  9. yashica says:

    i am using FILENET 4.5.x version

  10. yashica says:

    hi…can anybody tell me the impacts of installing SQL server sp4.
    – After that do i have to apply patch for filenet also.
    – Or that patch will work fine with previously installed patch of filenet.
    If any other impact is there please tell me…..

  11. Aaron Bertrand says:

    Service packs are cumulative… you can apply SP4 directly.

  12. Govind says:

    Can we apply the SP4 directly on MS SQL Server 2005 sp2 ?  or do we need to apply the SP3 first and then SP4.
    Please suggest.

  13. Diane Sithoo says:

    Would have been nice if the SP4 Relase notes also included the line "In a multi-server environment where IIS is running separately from the Primary Instance, you need to install replication components on the computer running IIS".  As it appears, it leads one to believe you need to perform this unnecessary step on a normal installation.

  14. Paul Sieberhagen says:

    Thanks Aaron – it was interesting to follow the link you have posted – it shows that MS is not really interested in supporting 2005 anymore – a bit of a pity for those of us who live in the real world and have to support "legacy" systems (like SQL 2005)

  15. Victor says:

    We are running multiple databases on multiple instances on the same servers. When aplying SP4, will it upgrade all instances at once on the same server or we need to do it one by one (instance)?
    Is SP4 just for the Database SQL Server 2005 or for the Application as well?

  16. Rolivares says:

    We stopped applying SP3 CUs once we hit CU6, so I guess making the jump to SP4 seems like a better option than going back and applying CU7-14 only because of these two fixes.
    I haven't been able to find any known issues with SP4, so I guess we'll go on with the update.
    Thanks for your quick reply.

  17. AaronBertrand says:

    Rolivares, that is usually the case, but each hotfix is considered separately. You won't always see fixes in a late CU from SPx make it into the very first CU for SPx+1 for various reasons – sometimes it takes a while to regression test a fix on any build other than the one in which it was reported (which takes priority), sometimes it is resolved as a side effect of a different fix, and sometimes the fix is there but the KB article listing the fixes simply isn't complete.
    As for these specific issues you mention, I don't really have any further insight than you; if you are affected by these issues and this condition is preventing you from moving to SP4, I recommend you open a PSS case before mainstream support ends next month. 🙂

  18. Rolivares says:

    Hi Aaron, helpful article.
    I noticed that kb2455009(SP3 CU13) and 2489667(SP3 CU14) have not been included in the list of fixes for SP4 CU1 or CU2.
    Shouldn't SP3 CU12-14 have been included in the recent cumulative updates for SP4?
    Any idea of these fixes would be included in a future CU3 any time soon?

  19. AaronBertrand says:

    If the service pack breaks other tools, you should at the very least file a bug at http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://web.archive.org/web/*/https://connect.microsoft.com/sql and maybe even open a support case.

  20. Paul Sieberhagen says:

    I have installed SP4 on my (client) PC and BIDS and Management studio are both unhappy – the patch that MS suggests does not recognise BIDS as a VS install so will not install.
    The most annoying issue is that Management Studio is now "single threading" – once you kick off a Analysis services cube process for instance the management studio window will not even get focus untill the task has completed and the progress window is closed.
    I cannot look at any R2 developement tools yet as all my servers are on 2005.

  21. AaronBertrand says:

    Pooja, I haven't spotted any serious issues with SP4, but I'll admit that I see fewer and fewer 2005 instances at all as time goes on. Most of the environments I deal with are on 2008 or newer. As for how long it takes to install, I think this can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as the speed of the machine, how many services/features you have, whether the instance is clustered, etc. I'd say plan for 20 minutes – but be prepared for an hour just in case.

  22. Pooja says:

    How much time does it takes to install sp4 for sql 2005 ?

  23. Pooja says:

    After installing sp4 what issue did you  found  ?

  24. Chris Wood says:

    And now CU1 for SP4 to take it to SP3 CU12 level.

  25. AaronBertrand says:

    Thanks Chris, I'd still like to see what are the consequences of not applying SP1.  As I mentioned, I applied SP4 to multiple instances and I did not first apply the Visual Studio SP.

  26. Chris Wood says:

    They have and are updating the release notes about VS2005 SP1. See here http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/microsoft-sql-server-2005-sp4-release-notes.aspx

  27. AaronBertrand says:

    Dig deeper, folks (or just try it).  Open the readme:
    It clearly states that the SP4 packages for x86 at least are supported on all supported operating systems (and this means anything that 2005 RTM was supported on).
    All supported 32-bit Windows operating systems, including 32-bit instances on 64-bit operating systems.
    Supported Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 64-bit X64 editions.
    Supported Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 64-bit Itanium editions.
    Once again Microsoft has fooled you by being lackadaisical in ensuring their documentation is consistent.  They probably pulled a lot of this content from a similar page for 2008 R2, and nobody has noticed the slip-up (yet).

  28. dba says:

    Supported Operating Systems:Windows 7;Windows Server 2008;Windows Server 2008 R2;Windows Vista
    So how can it correct an error in Windows XP if its not supported anymore? And Windows Server 2003 isn't supported anymore too.

  29. AaronBertrand says:

    Pierre, from http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/?p1=2855 (which hasn't yet been updated for SP4) … if you look at the row for SQL Server 2005 Service Pack 3, you see this note:
    "Support ends 12 months after the next service pack releases or at the end of the product's support lifecycle, whichever comes first."
    The portion "whichever comes first" is the important point.  12 months after "the next service pack" is about a year from now.  At this point only SP4 really has to be supported to the mainstream support for the product as a whole.  I believe once the page above is updated for SP4, the "Service Pack Support End Date" for SP3 will be updated to some date in December of 2011, just like SP1 and SP2 are no longer supported (they ended in 2008 and 2010, respectively).  This doesn't account for extended and premier of course.

  30. Pierre Levegh says:

    "roughly a year from today, mainstream support will only need to maintain the SP4 branch"
    Doesn't SQL Server 2005 mainstream support end 4/12/2011?

  31. AaronBertrand says:

    And yes, I realize that's not what you're saying Chris, but that's certainly what the release notes sound like to me.  And actually I've already had a private e-mail asking if they actually have to buy visual studio licenses in order to install SP4 on their servers.  The wording is horribly misleading and I hope it gets cleaned up quickly.

  32. AaronBertrand says:

    It would be great if the release notes went into more detail and described exactly what they mean.  I'm not sure what the consequences are, but I installed SP4 on several 2005 instances and have yet to see an issue where I needed to install Visual Studio.  I have a hard time believing that Visual Studio is now a prerequisite for a SQL Server service pack.

  33. Chris Wood says:

    Its right here in the release notes http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/microsoft-sql-server-2005-sp4-release-notes.aspx
    SQL2005 installs some components of VS 2005.

  34. AaronBertrand says:

    Chris, not sure why you think we'll only get 2 CUs for SP4?  SP3 I understand.
    About Visual Studio, I assume that you mean, "if you use Visual Studio to connect to SQL Server, you will need to apply VS SP1 so it will play well with SQL 2005 SP4."  I certainly didn't need to install Visual Studio to apply service pack 4 to my 2005 instances.  🙂

  35. Chris Wood says:

    From Microsoft support policy it seems we might get 2 cumulative updates to SP4 and maybe 3 for SP3 with mainstream support ending next April.
    Also note you needs Visual Studio 2005 SP1 for SQL2005 SP4.

  36. dugi says:

    Thanks for the infos!