FAQ - Server Install

The server was not found

Attempting to connect to an instance on SQL express on a 2008 64 bit server OS, (via an instance of SQL Management studio aka SSMS installed on the same server) the following message was received.

A network-related or instance-specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL Server.

We are all familiar with the hoops for installing SQL express in a network environment and getting reliable connections and responsiveness. So we were somewhat surprised when this occurred and still gave an error when trying to connect locally on the server.

The full error was:

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: Shared Memory Provider, error: 40 - Could not open a connection to SQL Server) (.Net SqlClient Data Provider)

A check in the SQL configuration manager showed that the SQL Express (2008 R2) service instance was not running.
The instance was on automatic. An attempt to manually start the instance gave:

The request failed or the service did not respond in a timely fashion. Consult the event log or other applicable error logs for details.
The application log revealed:
Log Name:      Application
Source:        MSSQL$EXPRESS2008R2
Event ID:      17120
Task Category: Server
Level:         Error
Keywords:      Classic
User:          N/A
SQL Server could not spawn lazy writer thread. Check the SQL Server error log and the Windows event logs for information about possible related problems.

The last change that had been made to the instance was assigning the Disk I/O and processor affinity to specific CPUs.

This setting had been tested and was operational on Window 7 and Vista installs. However unlike other memory changes an options which kick in when the options window is closes, it appears this on only occurs after a reboot.


To reset this mask, it is necessary to restart the SQL instance in minimal config mode. This can be done via a dos window with the following command:

sqlservr.exe -f <instance name>

You can now connect to the instance in SQL Server Management Studio and undo this helpful feature that Microsoft has incorporated in server OS installs of SQL express!

Once you have done this, simply restart the instance in SQL configuration manager.


Associated links

How to: Start an Instance of SQL Server (sqlservr.exe)
How to solve Event ID 17120: SQL Server could spawn not lazy writer thread This webpage only exists as a standard insecure webpage however you may navigate to it by pasting the following url in your address bar: http://www.sentientbeings.com/2010/06/how-to-solve-event-id-17120-sql-server-could-spawn-not-lazy-writer-thread/)

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This FAQ was last updated on Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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