Undocumented SQL Server 2012 Express LocalDB

As a developer of Microsoft Visual Studio, SQL Server 2012 Express LocalDB probably has gotten onto your machine without your notice. I will document some of my exploration on LocalDB in this post.

Installation and Location

There are three ways to get LocalDB onto your machines:

  1. Install together when installing Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 (this is my case);
  2. Install by using SqlLocalDB.msi found in SQL Server 2012 Express
  3. Install by downloading from Microsoft Download Centre directly (here).

The installation location is default to C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\LocalDB\Binn where sqlserv.exe is the main application.

The tools (utilities) to operate the LocalDB are SqlLocalDB, SQLCMD and bcp which are located at C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\110\Tools\Binn. Make sure to include it into your PATH.


This is the utility to administrate the localdb instances.

  • to get help: sqllocaldb -?
  • to print the version: sqllocaldb versions
  • to create an instance: sqllocaldb create “YourInstanceName”
  • to delete an instance: sqllocaldb delete “YourInstanceName”
  • to start an instance: sqllocaldb start “YourInstanceName”
  • to stop an instance: sqllocaldb stop “YourInstanceName”
  • to share an instance: sqllocaldb share “YourInstanceName”
  • to unshared an instance: sqllocadbl unshare “YourInstanceName”
  • to list all your instances: sqllocaldb info
  • to list the status of an instance: sqllocaldb info “YourInstanceName”
  • to set the trace on and off: sqllocaldb trace on|off

If you’ve used VS 2013 to connect to LocalDB, VS 2013 would have created an instance for you (in my case is v11.0).

Even your instance is stopped, it will be auto-started when you try to connect to it first time either via VS 2013 or SQLCMD.

SQLCMD, BCP, process ‘sqlservr’

Both SQLCMD and BCP are well documented. The only difference between LocalDB and SQL server is that we need to put a bracket ‘()’ to indicate it is a LocalDB instead of hostname for the named instance¬†like:

sqlcmd -S ‘(LocalDB)\v11.0’

This is also applied to SSMS and VS 2013 connections. There is only one process “sqlservr” related to LocalDB. It is very lightweighted by using about 12MB RAM on my machine.

Some Examples

The following is executed in powershell:

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) 2013 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

PS C:\Users\henry> sqllocaldb info
PS C:\Users\henry> sqllocaldb info "v11.0"
Name:               v11.0
Version:            11.0.3000.0
Shared name:
Owner:              PolarBear\henry
Auto-create:        Yes
State:              Stopped
Last start time:    12/31/2013 2:37:39 PM
Instance pipe name:
PS C:\Users\henry> sqllocaldb start "v11.0"
LocalDB instance "v11.0" started.
PS C:\Users\henry>  ps | where-object {$_.ProcessName -match 'sqlservr'}

Handles  NPM(K)    PM(K)      WS(K) VM(M)   CPU(s)     Id ProcessName
-------  ------    -----      ----- -----   ------     -- -----------
    492      20    67780      17140   311     3.83   2248 sqlservr

PS C:\Users\henry> sqllocaldb stop "v11.0"
LocalDB instance "v11.0" stopped.
PS C:\Users\henry> sqlcmd -S "(LocalDB)\v11.0"
1> use test
2> go
Changed database context to 'test'.
1> select count(*) from HR.Employees
2> go


(1 rows affected)
1> shutdown
2> go
Server shut down by request from login PolarBear\henry.
1> exit
PS C:\Users\henry>

Sharing or Not

From A TechNet Article
When sharing a SqlLocalDB instance with a non-owner, you must re-start the instance for the other users to be able to see the instance you have shared. A non-owner cannot start an instance, so if you are going to share an instance with other users who can access your machine, you also need to be sure it has been started. When you create an instance you can do this as follows:

sqllocaldb create “MyInstance”
sqllocaldb share “MyInstance” “OurInstance”
sqllocaldb start “MyInstance”

You should add users explicitly when connected to the instance as the owner, e.g.

— other permissions…

In general, though, the purpose of SqlLocalDB is to serve as a sandbox for an individual developer on a machine, not to serve as a development environment for multiple users. Each user should be able to create, start, administer and use his/her own LocalDB instances.

About henry416
I am a computer technology explorer and an university student based on Toronto. If you have any question, please feel free to discuss and comment here

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