How to Patch a Standalone SQL Server Instance

How to Patch a Standalone SQL Server Instance

How to Patch a Standalone SQL Server Instance

Patching SQL Server is an ongoing process. Service packs and cumulative updates are being regularly released in order to apply possible bug fixes as well as provide additional functionality.

How to Patch a Standalone SQL Server Instance - Article on SQLNetHub

This article, suggests a procedure for patching a standalone SQL Server instance. So here’s the suggested procedure:

First on the TEST Environment:

  • Plan ahead – inform application owners – get approvals
  • Stop all application/services that connect to the SQL Server instance
  • Backup server (OS)
  • Backup all user databases
  • Backup the system databases: master, model, msdb
  • Backup the resource database via file system – copy files to a safe location (use the query in the appendix below to find resource database’s files location)
  • Install patches
  • Reboot server
  • Make sure that SQL Server and related services are started
  • Start application/services that connect to the SQL Server instance
  • Certify that everything works well on the Test server after the installation of patches is completed.
    • You need to get acceptance by all affected parties (i.e. IT users, application owners, etc.).
    • If there is a problem, you will have to troubleshoot in order to resolve it
    • In the unfortunate case where you cannot resolve the problem, as a last resort, you can follow a rollback procedure which involves the following but is not limited to:
      • Uninstall the patch(es) previously installed
      • Restore the system databases as well as the resource database (both data and log files)
      • Reboot the server
      • Check if everything is back to normal, that is the state of SQL Server just before the patching started
      • If there is still a problem, restore server (OS) from the backup taken prior to start the process
      • Check if all user databases are OK. If not, restore them from the backup taken prior to start the patching process.
      • Check again if everything OK

If everything is OK on the TEST environment after the patching and you have the green light to proceed with patching Production (i.e. approvals/acceptance by business users/application owners, etc.), then you may follow the same steps as above for the Production standalone server (note: make sure you get approval for an adequate amount of downtime and also take into consideration possible unexpected problems during the patching process).


[Appendix: T-SQL Script to Find the Location of SQL Server Resource Database]

USE master;

SELECT 'ResourceDB' AS DBName ,
       [name] AS DBFile,
       [filename] AS FilePath
FROM   sys.sysaltfiles
WHERE  dbid = 32767;

Read also: How to Patch a SQL Server Failover Cluster

Recommended: Check out my eBook on SQL Server Administration.

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Artemakis Artemiou
Artemakis Artemiou is a Senior SQL Server and Software Architect, Author, and a 9 Times Microsoft Data Platform MVP (2009-2018). He has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry in various roles. Artemakis is the founder of SQLNetHub and Artemakis is the creator of the well-known software tools Snippets Generator and DBA Security Advisor. Also, he is the author of many eBooks on SQL Server. Artemakis currently serves as the President of the Cyprus .NET User Group (CDNUG) and the International .NET Association Country Leader for Cyprus (INETA). Artemakis's official website can be found at