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How do you install SQL Server in a remote server where you don't have the option to put a CD or DVD on the machine (or have anybody do it for you)? That is, having the ISO image.

I can think of installing a CD emulator, but most of the look like nasty software I wouldn't want on a server.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I copy the .iso to the target server then use winrar (I suppose 7zip and any number of similar products will work) to extract the .iso to a folder, then run setup from the folder in the normal way. The sort of software you install on a server isn't interested in playing games about whether or not you have a disk in a drive somewhere, it just needs to be able to find all its install files.

I've install SQL, Exchange, ISA Server and Sharepoint like this several times, just to name a few microsoft products I know it works with.

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The only trick with this is to look inside the autorun.inf file to see what it loads when you would normally insert the disk. It's not always obvious, as often there's no "setup.exe" in the root, sometimes it's under "\app\files\bin\sf32sd.exe" or some crazy location. – Mark Henderson Aug 27 '09 at 22:16
MagicDisk works to mount the ISO as a CD/DVD-ROM...this way you don't have to burn up disk space.. – Thomas Denton Aug 28 '09 at 0:12

If you can remote desktop into the server, you can create a shared folder, give yourself rights to that folder, copy the contents of the cd/dvd into that folder (from your local box), then from the server (using RD), run the installer. As long as the folder paths are the same that should work.

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If you want to avoid third party virtual CD drives, Microsoft has a tool to mount .iso files.

Virtual CD-ROM Control Panel for Windows XP

It also works on Server 2003

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You can do one of two things:

1) Install Daemon Tools - although i don't like putting cd emulators on Servers

2) Pop the cd into a local drive and copy the files over the wire, the installer doesn't really care if it's off hard disk or cd.

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I'm not fond of installing emulators on servers. – mrdenny Aug 27 '09 at 21:34
Umm yes, In case you didn't notice I gave a second option to extract the files from CD and copy them over... And I did mention that I don't like it either, but it IS a valid option. – Zypher Aug 27 '09 at 21:38
What is wrong with CD emulators?..I don't like Deamon Tools, but MagicDisk is light and easy to use..No service running all the time. T – Thomas Denton Aug 28 '09 at 0:14

I have done it with a fast network link and just shared the CD drive on my own workstation and then mapped that drive from the server. Cheap and easy anyhow. I wouldn't do it over a slow WAN link though.

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When ever possible I have the media on a network share and simply install from the network share. That way I'm not installing any un-needed software on the server.

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