What is the difference between SQL Server server names and SQL Server instance names?


19 July 2023

Numerous Schneider Electric Software use Microsoft SQL Server for logging and reporting of data. Examples include EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert, EcoStruxure Building Operations - Report Server, EcoStruxure Security Expert, DALI Buildings, Schedule Plus etc.  

SQL Server server names - refer to the name of the computer hosting the SQL Server

SQL Server instance names - refer to a default or named instance of the SQL Server 

Instance names allow one to distinguish between multiple instances of SQL servers installed on a computer. It is often used to clearly distinguish SQL Server databases from different products - keeping them separate and simplifying database maintenance activities for various software products. 

When using SSMS (SQL Server Management Studio) - the format will be show as follows 
ComputerName\InstanceName (for named instances) or just ComputerName (for default instances)

if you are using the default SQL Server instances based on SQL Server version eg SQLEXPRESS or MSSQLSERVER - the instance name will not appear in SSMS (only the server name). However they can be seen running the Services App and looking for the SQL Server service. The instance name will appear within the open and closed bracket.