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I'm running SQL Server 2014 and have 50 separate instances running. This is the max limit of number of instances for this version and I obviously need to uninstall some instances and clean up.

However upon research it looks like there's a bug which won't allow you to uninstall instances through the Programs and Features installer or command line when you have 50 instances installed. The installer freezes or hangs when querying the list of instances and never moves forward to uninstall. I checked the bootstrap log files and the exported errors state that it can't perform the operation because there are too many instances which is the whole problem in the first place!

The only solution I've found is to uninstall the instance through the registry. I was able to remove the instance from HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall using msiexec but when I did that the SQL Browser service crashed, the other sql instances lost connection and the services for the old instance would reappear. I ended up restoring the registry from the backup I made. Is there a way to remove an instance from the registry properly and re-situate the browser service? Maybe some registry items I'm missing?

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According to https://www.experts-exchange.com/questions/29025272/Manually-uninstalling-SQL-Server-Instances.html, this should work.

Scan the registry for the instance name and find the MSI files for the uninstallers. Run msiexec /x "{id}" and that will uninstall without the managed installer complaining. The services will then have to be cleaned up manually, using "sc delete ...".

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I've figured out the solution for this based on an order of operations. This resolved my issue.

-Stop the SQL Browser service

-SC Delete the SQL Server service for the particular erroneous instance

-Run the uninstall command from the setup.exe using the installer disk Setup.exe /Action=Uninstall /FEATURES=SQLEngine /INSTANCENAME=MyInstance /Q

-(The SQL Server Agent service for the erroneous instance will disappear)

-Start the SQL Browser service

-Uninstall subsequent erroneous instances through Programs and Features as this will now complete without hanging.

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