Browse for Servers does not display local instance

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Question :

I just installed SQL Server and SQL Server Management Studio but it doesn’t show anything in servers list and I don’t know how to connect to it.

This shows that I have installed SQL Server:

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But in this image you can see that my Browse for Servers dialog is empty:

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Network servers is empty too.

Answer :

Your title says you have an installation problem, but I don’t think this is the case (it seems like you have installed SQL Server okay, you just can’t find it). Of course I don’t know exactly what options you selected during setup, but from the programs applet, it seems like you should have at least one instance installed.

The Browse for Servers dialog is hokey and won’t always find all instances, even on your own computer, even on the best days. I would rather use Configuration Manager to determine what’s installed. Find the most recent version of this, since older versions of the Configuration Manager won’t be able to see/manage newer versions of SQL Server (but the older versions of Config Manager don’t get replaced or uninstalled).

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If you can’t find Configuration Manager, you can add it to any generic MMC console. Run mmc from the command line:

mmc.exe

(If you have that awful thing called UAC enabled, you may have to give the tool permission to run.)

Then choose file > add/remove snap-in:

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Then pick SQL Server Configuration Manager and click Add (if there are multiple, they are from different versions, but not labeled correctly, so add all of them), then click OK.

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Then open SQL Server Services, and you will see the list of instances on the right. If you had to add multiple nodes, make sure you check all of the nodes, since it is impossible to tell visually which node represents which version of Config Manager.

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If that list is empty, you did not install SQL Server correctly.

To connect to one of those, first you need to make sure it’s running; if not, right-click and select Start:

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Now in Management Studio you should be able to connect by entering the right instance name. It will be in this form:

(local)instance_name_from_within_brackets_in_the_list

So, once I have started that instance picture above, I would enter the following in the SSMS connect to server dialog:

(local)SQL2016_407

Unless the instance name in brackets is MSSQLSERVER – this is a special display name reserved for the default instance. In this case you should be able to connect using just (local).

There are some other exceptions as well – for example if you only installed LocalDB, this is not going to show up as an active instance in Configuration Manager – this is by design (the whole point of LocalDB is to remove instance-level management). For more information on using LocalDB, see this tip.

You can get the name of the SQL Server instance, if it was installed without any issue, by using the following one liner in the command prompt.

Open your command prompt and run the following command

sqlcmd -L

This will give you the list of SQL Server instances on your machine. Then as mentioned by Aaron Bertrand above, you can check in SQL Server Configuration Manager if they are running or not. Hope this helps!

I think you have installed SQL server management studio only. You need to install SQL server database too. That is why you do not see any SQL server instances.
They are two different things. SQL Server Database is where you store your databases, while SQL Server Management Studio is a way to manage these databases.

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