I'm struggling with finding the correct SQL Server edition for web hosting. And couldn't find a clear source/article.

Basically I have a dedicated server and hosting my own websites. I'm not selling hosting or giving services but just hosting couple of my own websites.

But these websites are using SQL server and I fed up paying SQL server license to hosting firms.

Now I'm planning to buy my own SQL Server license so I can use it and if I want to change my dedicated server to another company I should be able to use the SQL Server license.

I found very cheap user and device CAL licenses, but not sure what it means; https://www.lizengo.co.uk/microsoft/microsoft-sql-server-2016-1-user-cal https://www.lizengo.co.uk/microsoft/microsoft-sql-server-standard-2016-1-device-cal

Since I'm the only person will be connecting to SQL server would it be enough to buy only one of these licenses? Or should I buy Standar edition license as well?

I'm also struggling to find Web edition license as well. Any suggestion appreciated especially people have dedicated servers.

Edited: I have further searched and tried to find some information about this but there is literally nothing. Looks like Microsoft doesn't sell SQL Server web edition directly if you're not a hosting provider. And also some hosting providers are charging a huge amount for SQL server. And especially the number of cores in the server is high than the price is going crazy. This really doesn't make any sense. If I buy(unfortunately I can't afford) SQL Server Standard edition directly in 1 year it can cover it. On the other hand some hosting providers are really cheap. But they are not good quality firms.

  • Have you considered using an open source database like MySQL or Postgres for which you don't need any license fees? Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 12:42
  • These are existing websites and spent years on SQL Server side, I can't imagine to move existing structure and codes to another database servers.
    – Sam Salim
    Commented Apr 15, 2020 at 13:22
  • There's very little difference between MySQL and MS SQL in basic statements. Only when you start using platform specific methods or non standard SQL do you see much difference. Things like concatenating strings, objects with spaces in the names, etc. However, I understand that the task to move would involve a lot of testing.
    – Trebor
    Commented Sep 29, 2020 at 14:39
  • @Salim it seems you are limited by budget and therefore your operation can not scale as a result. You will need to use alternative solutions. You need to find the queries that are not compatible with alternative SQL engines, and then do a conversion on them. I also recommend using more than one database e.g one for an archive of stuff which will reduce system resources, and consider using caching of SQL queries to compiled HTML. Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 2:51
  • Thanks for the comments. It would literally take months to write all the T-SQL procedures&functions on another RDMS. As I've been working with SQL Server more than 20 years and worked as DBA and SQL developer I built the business logic on SQL Server side. So moving to another database is the last option for me. Also the main database is huge, about 200 GB now and too many transactions and I've spent literally years to optimize the db, queries. But looks like the best option is to keep paying hosting providers unfortunately.
    – Sam Salim
    Commented Mar 15, 2021 at 21:22

2 Answers 2


If these are your own websites and you have a dedicated server, you should be able to use SQL Server Express edition which is free and can be used in production - but there is a limit to the memory and CPU it can use (and some other features), but for basic websites it should be enough. Are there features that you need in the web/standard editions?

  • thanks but database size aprr. 100 GB and minimum 32 GB RAM needed and heavy transactions as well so Express edition is not enough unfortunately.
    – Sam Salim
    Commented May 3, 2020 at 21:24
  • 1
    @Salim - For a private website? Have you considered revising your SQL queries? Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 16:47

You are not allowed to do this. AS soon as your website is out in the public you will need to use subscribe to the SPLA from Microsoft which is the Service Provider's License Agreement. Basically, you will be paying monthly for the use of SQL server, and the Windows server as well if you are also using Windows to serve up your application. Look for Microsoft SPLA and you will get all the information you need.

  • 1
    Do you have a link to a page for this information?
    – Steve
    Commented Nov 19, 2020 at 23:36

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.