Do I have to install SQL Server Express for BarTender to work? Follow


BarTender Content Team


 Is SQL Server Express a required component for BarTender to work? Does it depend on the BarTender Version in use? Which version of SQL Server Express is required?


In BarTender 2019 R5 and later or in BarTender 2021, SQL is now optional for standard operation. If you are installing R4 or earlier, SQL is required and must be installed for the software to operate. 

If you are installing BarTender 2019 R4 or earlier, you must install SQL Server Express 2014 with an instance named BarTender. It cannot be any other version or named instance, including SQL Server 2014 full edition.

It is strongly recommended you download the most recent revision here on our download page.


What components of BarTender still require SQL?

With the changes in R5, you are able to skip the SQL install and move all basic operations to localDB instead. however, there are still components that require a system database to operate. These include:

  • Reprint Console and Print Job logging
  • History Explorer
  • Data Builder
  • Security settings, including permissions, logging, signatures, and encryption
  • Cloud storage locations
  • Librarian
  • BarTender Print Portal


Installing SQL

By default, BarTender will attempt to install SQL Server Express as part of the installation package for our software. If you are having difficulties installing SQL Server, please see the following support article for assistance: Install BarTender SQL Server Express Manually

If you install SQL Server with the default specifications, the BarTender installer will find the install and create a BarTender instance automatically.

With R5, SQL Server Express 2014 SP3 is included to work with the deprecation of TSL 1.0.

Skipping the SQL install

Note: this section requires BarTender 2019 R5 or later or BarTender 2021 and cannot be done if a previous revision is already on the system.

During the installation process, please do the following:

  • On the welcome screen, check the box next to "Specify advanced installation options" and click Next
  • On the Advanced Installation Options, uncheck the box next to "Add Microsoft SQL Server Express"


  • Continue the installation like normal. The installer will skip the SQL installation. You may see INSTALL_SQL on the installer messages. This is a normal part of the installation process, and with the checkbox unchecked, the installer will simply move to the next step automatically without installing SQL on your system.

If you plan on using any of the features listed above, you will need to install SQL separately and set up a system database (help topic).


Removing the SQL instance

If you need to remove the SQL instance for whatever reason, please follow the removal guide here: How do you uninstall the BarTender SQL instance?

Do you have feedback or questions on this article? We encourage you to post them on our Community Forums