In-Place Upgrade failure from SQL Server 2008 SP1 to SQL Server 2008 R2

Posted in: Microsoft SQL Server, Technical Track

Recently I was trying to upgrade SQL Server 2008 to SQL Server 2008 R2. The upgrade failed with error message below.


TITLE: Message Details


The Instance ID ‘MSSQLSERVER’ is already in use by SQL Server instance ‘MSSQLSERVER.INACTIVE’. To continue, specify a unique Instance ID.







Brief Background of upgrade process:


Here we have an orphaned SQL instance named MSSQLServer.Inactive. Let’s understand the upgrade process here. During your upgrade, there are two stages:



Post- PointOfNoReturn


Point of No Return is a point at which 2008 R2 will take over the instance name and SQL Server 2008 will be then uninstalled.




In this scenario, the setup is failing at Pre-Point Of No Return otherwise we would have tried to repair the SQL Server 2008 R2 instance.


The first thing I tried was renaming the registry key (below) and upgrading it, but it did not help this time (this has helped in some cases)

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\Instance Names\SQL\Inactive


The second option is to remove the existing instance and reinstall a fresh default instance.

I tried to  uninstall the new SQL Server 2008 R2 instance from ADD/REMOVE Programs, but it was not showing the instance name as it was inactive.

Ran below command


setup /action=uninstall /instanceid=MSSQLSERVER  /features=SQLEngine,Replication


(You can select more features if it is installed in your environment. Refer Summary.txt for last upgrade failure)


After the uninstall was successfully completed, I was able to install the SQL Server 2008 R2 instance.



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3 Comments. Leave new

Sriharsha Gurram
February 20, 2014 6:47 am

There is another option to forcefully uninstall sql server components using msiexec command


I was performing an in place upgrade of SQL 2005 with SQL 2008 R2. During the pre-point of no return my client’s C drive ran out of space. We fixed the space issue and restarted the upgrade and got the Instance ID ‘MSSQLSERVER’ is already in use by SQL Server instance ‘MSSQLSERVER.INACTIVE’ message. Once I removed the registry entry, I was able to successfully complete the upgrade.


I too faced same issue… Nothing works for me :(
None of the above steps including inactive instance and other keys from registry
PC still in inactive state for past 1 week.

It’s really inactive situation :(


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