[Today's post comes to us courtesy of Shawn Sullivan from Commercial Technical Support]

For those of you who are operating with a WSS 3.0 site that has a content database approaching or larger than 10GB, you will have to take database size limits into account if you are planning a migration to SBS 2011. SBS 2011 setup installs Sharepoint 2010 Foundation by default, which uses a named instance of SQL 2008 R2 Express to hold the configuration, content, and search databases. Whereas WSS 3.0 uses the Windows Internal Database version of SQL which does not impose a database size limit, SQL 2008 R2 Express imposes a 10GB limit. In preparation for the migration, when you run the prescan utility on a WSS 3.0 content database that is approaching this threshold, two of its checks will fail:

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Failed: Databases within this farm are hosted on Windows Internal Database and are larger than or close to 4GB in size.

Failed: Site Collections within this farm are hosted on Windows Internal Database and are larger than or close to 4GB in size.

Note: The 4GB limit mentioned in the rule does not apply to SQL 2008 R2 Express, which increased the limit to 10GB. The 4GB limit is imposed by SQL 2008 Express, which SBS 2011 does not use.

There are two options available if you intend to migrate this content database off of WSS 3.0. You can either try using Remote Blob Storage (RBS) or you can purchase SBS 2011 Premium and upgrade to SQL 2008 R2 Standard. The problem with RBS is that it is so dependent on what is actually in the database that it is not guaranteed to work around the size limit issue and there is still a limit on how large your data can grow. Although a deep technical discussion about RBS is not within the scope of this post, three quick facts from the link above are important to mention here:

  • “RBS is designed to move the storage of binary large objects (BLOBs) from database servers to commodity storage solutions.”
    ** This is the primary reason for its existence, to reduce storage costs and not to work around the database size limits of SQL Express.
  • “If after you move content into RBS, a content database remains that is larger than 4GB, the migration operation will fail. This failure typically occurs only with very large databases (20 GB or larger), but can also occur if there is a smaller database that contains too much metadata”
    **Once again, referring to the SQL 2008 Express size limit but the same idea applies to R2.
  • “If the configuration includes SharePoint databases that are larger than 16GB, RBS is unlikely to provide a full solution to the limitations of SQL Server 2008 Express and SQL Server 2008 R2 Express. In this case, you should be prepared to use SQL Server 2008 Standard or SQL Server 2008 Enterprise to support the SharePoint database.
    **The target is between 10GB and 16GB with minimal room for growth.

For these reasons, we do not recommend using RBS and instead urge you to upgrade to SQL 2008 R2 Standard. The remainder of this post will show you how to accomplish this.

As mentioned before, this edition of SQL is included with SBS 2011 Premium for you to either install on the SBS server itself or onto a second machine running Windows Server (2008 R2 media is also included with Premium). In this part, I will demonstrate how to upgrade the existing R2 Express instance of SharePoint to R2 Standard in preparation for the migration. Subsequent posts in this series will demonstrate how to install a new R2 Standard instance on the second server and how to migrate the content database to it.

  1. Load the SBS 2011 Premium media that contains the SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard installation files. Setup should launch automatically but if it doesn’t, launch setup.exe.

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  2. On the SQL Server Installation Center window, choose Maintenance on the left and then choose Edition Upgrade.
  3. You will run through a handful of rule checks to make sure there are no issues that need to be corrected that will prevent SQL from installing properly. If you run into any warnings or failures, address or fix them then try again. Note: you will receive a warning for installing onto a Domain Controller, this is acceptable on SBS 2011.
  4. When asked for the product key, you should find that it is automatically populated for you. Otherwise it can be found on the media package itself.
  5. Under Select Instance, choose SHAREPOINT from the drop-down menu. It will run through another series of rule checks before the final upgrade.

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  6. Once it finishes, you will be able to verify in SQL Management Studio that its version has changed from Express with Advanced Services to Standard Edition
    1. Click Start > All Programs > Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 > SQL Server Management Studio
    2. Enter <Servername>\Sharepoint and click Connect
    3. Right-click on the instance and choose Properties
    4. The General page is the first to appear, and here you will see the version of the instance:

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At this point, you will be ready to pick up at this step on the SBS 2011 Migration whitepaper. The next part of this series will cover installing the SQL 2008 R2 Standard instance on server two.