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Instructions provided describe how to determine if an instance of SQL Server Express is enabled to be used as a database server.
To identify if a SQL Server Express instance has been enabled to store geodatabases, check the Microsoft SQL Server services hive in the Windows Registry.
Check the Windows Registry on the computer where SQL Server Express is installed:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\MSSQL$<SQL Server Express instance name>
By default, SQL Server Express instances are named sqlexpress, but this value may be different if another name was used when SQL Server Express was installed.