A Comprehensive Guide to SQL Server End of Life

SQL Server and SQL Server Compact is Microsoft's relational database management system (RDMS) application. As its name suggests, it is used to manage the databases you use for your business. And soon, a few SQL Server versions will go End of Life. But no worries because we got you covered with this guide.

Microsoft outlines the end-of-life dates for all of their products to make customers aware of when they will cease support for specific products. SQL Server is no exception to this. Each version of SQL Server usually has both an end of support date and an end of extended support date.

Why should I care?

At the end of mainstream support, Microsoft will no longer provide non-security hotfixes unless you have an extended support agreement. All warranty claims end and they will no longer accept feature and change requests.

Once a product reaches its 'Extended Support End Date' there will be no patches, security updates or support from Microsoft. If you're using any of these products and do nothing, it's almost certain that your risks around security and compliance will increase, which may also impact productivity. These risks will only grow over time, so it's vital you take action.

43.03% of SQL Server Installations Are No Longer Supported.

The SQL server service packs is the percentage of SQL Server installations that are supported/EOL based on the SQL Server version and Service pack.

Lansweeper recently took a closer look at over 1.1 million SQL servers across more than 35,000 organizations. At first glance, the numbers don't look too bad. Only 6.07% of SQL Server installations are of the completely out of support SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2000. The 2 latest releases, SQL Server 2019 (12.77%) and SQL Server 2017 (12.65%) are still completely supported, while all other releases still have either supported service packs or extended security updates, for those that have opted into that. For SQL Server 2014 (by far the most popular version with 21.94% of installations) and SQL Server 2016 (14.34%) that is service pack 3. For the last service packs of SQL Server 2012 (15.64%), 2008 R2 (12.30%), and 2008 (4.30%) Microsoft still offers extended security updates.

However, a closer look at installations paints a far less optimistic picture. Whenever a new service pack is released, Microsoft only offers support for the previous pack for 1 more year. This means that while any installations of SQL Server 2008, 2008 R2, 2012, 2014, or 2016 may still be supported, this does not go for all service packs. It is only the latest service pack that is still receiving updates. These 5 versions also make up the bulk of all SQL Server installations in our sample. When taking this into account, it turns out that a shocking 43.03% of SQL Server installations are using a service pack that has gone end-of-life and thus face increased security and compliance risks.

SQL Server 2012 End of Life

SQL Server 2012 will officially go end-of-life on July 12, 2022, after being supported for over 10 years. While it is recommended to migrate your databases to a newer SQL Server version, it is possible to remain on SQL Server 2012 as long as you purchase the Extended Security Update package. This package lets you buy up to 3 additional years of support in case your organization isn't prepared yet for a migration.

SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 End of Life

SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 reached their end of support on July 9, 2019, while Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 reached their deadline together with Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. If you're still using these SQL Server versions, there are Extended Security Update packages available that can extend the end-of-life to July 12, 2022. If you want to use it for an additional year, your only option is to use the Azure version which is the only version that gets a 4th extended security update year.

The Microsoft Lifecycle Policy offered a total of 10 years of support (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support) for the 2008 and 2008 R2 versions of SQL Server and Windows Server.

Run the SQL Server End of Life Audit Report

Our SQL Server End of Life Audit provides an overview of all the SQL Server installations in your network along with an indication of whether they have surpassed their extended support date.

After the extended support date has passed, your SQL Servers might no longer be secure as they will not receive security updates. It's highly recommended that if you have SQL servers that reached or surpassed their end-of-life date, you update them as soon as possible.

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SQL Server Compact End of Life

SQL Server Compact 4.0 goes end of life on July 13, 2021. What does this mean for you? Well, there will be no more security updates or patches and technical support. That's why we at Lansweeper made a custom SQL Server Compact EOL report to help you audit your network to detect outdated installations.

What are my options?

Simply put:

  • Pay for Extended Security Updates
  • Update to a more recent version of SQL Server
  • Migrate to Microsoft Azure

Extended Security Updates

The easiest thing to do if your organization has missed an EOL deadline is purchasing Extended Security Updates from Microsoft. These security updates include critical and important security updates, but no new features, or customer-requested non-security updates. Additionally, purchasing extended support is a very costly, very temporary solution.

This is an option that is available to clients using SQL Server or Windows Server with an active license, although it's merely postponing troubles.

Upgrade to SQL Server 2019

Another path forward is to simply upgrade to more recent versions of these products: SQL Server 2019. By upgrading your installations, you'll have access to updates for multiple years.

Migrate to Azure

The main recommendation is migrating the on-premise Microsoft SQL workloads into the Microsoft Azure cloud. Through upgrading legacy on-premise database technology, businesses consolidate their environment and optimize performance, recovery, and provisioning.

The cloud is evergreen and allows you to scale up or down as required, paying only for what you consume. Exchange Online, as part of Office 365 or Azure SQL Database, are great examples of Microsoft's modern approach to mainstream server applications.

Microsoft states that with a minor change within the code, you can host SQL Server 2008 or SQL Server 2008 R2 to an Azure SQL database.

SQL Server EOL Overview

VersionEOL DateExtended security update option?
Microsoft SQL Server 2005Apr 12, 2016No
Microsoft SQL Server 2008Jul 9, 2019Jul 12, 2022
Jul 11, 2023 (Azure only)
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2Jul 9, 2019Jul 12, 2022
Jul 11, 2023 (Azure only)
Microsoft SQL Server 2012Jul 12, 2022Jul 8, 2025
SQL Server 2014Jul 9, 2024No
SQL Server 2016Jul 14, 2026No
SQL Server 2017Oct 12, 2027No
SQL Server 2019Jan 8, 2030No
Source: Microsoft Lifecycle

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