Error: Failed to connect to the specified server. The destination string buffer is too small

Error Message

When making a database connection using direct connect or making a database server connection to an established ArcSDE personal or workgroup geodatabase, the following error message is displayed:

"Failed to connect to the specified server. The destination string buffer is too small."


The connection string for the server parameter is longer than 31 characters.

The information passed as the connection parameter for server is a combination of server name and database instance name. The server name and database instance name are separated by a period. Where the backslash usually separates the server name and instance name for SQLExpress there is an underscore. For example, server carolina with a database instance of carolina\sqlexpress is sent under server name as the following: carolina.carolina_sqlexpress

Solution or Workaround

  • Shorten the server connection parameter string to a value less than 32 characters. Since the server parameter is not needed when making direct connections, this does not impact the connection.
  • When making database server connections to ArcSDE personal and workgroup geodatabase, use the database connection to connect to SQL Express databases with direct connect parameters. See the link in the Related Information section below for information on setting up direct connections, which can be used to test creating a direct connect to the SQL Express instance.
  • Another workaround is to shorten the SQL Express instance name to ensure that the machine name and instance are not exceeding 31 character limit.

Related Information