Friday, April 9, 2021

Problems Migrating From SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) v17 to v18

If you are an active multi-year user of Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio you are probably well-used to a controversial history of this product as an arguably one of the most loved and hated at the same time and one of the most outdated as well. Understandably, with so many different active versions of Microsoft SQL Server the requirements for this product are quite challenging but the users (us) continue to vote for this tool to exist and push Microsoft to keep updating it regardless of many other alternatives available on the market.

Just recently, I've finally made efforts to install the most recent version SSMS v18.8 while still using the most stable previous version v17.9. As I have expected (with a false hope that my expectation would not be true) the installation of v18.8 was not smooth, so I want to share some tips to make sure it works.

The reason that I have avoided v18 for so long well after it was released is because of many unexpected problems popping up every single time I tried to install it. So, I kept my trustful SSMS v17.9 and waited for the next 18.x to be released to unsuccessfully try it out. The secondary reason was that seemingly no new worth mentioning features have been released in v18.x so I did not have strong motivation to make an effort.

I have personally tried many alternative SQL IDEs, namely Azure Data Studio, JetBrains DataGrip, SQL extension for VS Code, SQL project in Visual Studio, Apex SQL and more, but I keep returning to SSMS as arguably a more convenient and familiar environment. If you are in the same shoes, keep reading.

Installation Problem

If you have/had a previous version of SSMS installed on your machine (which is most likely, if you are still reading) chances are high you've got that error (picture above) during the installation. As you can see, it clearly says that the problem is with Microsoft ODBC Driver 17 for SQL. To fix it, open Programs in your Windows Settings and uninstall the ODBC Driver 17. Important: you'll need to reboot Windows after uninstalling it.

After uninstalling and rebooting the installation of v18.8 completed successfully.

Password Remember Problem

After opening the new SSMS 18 first time I've noticed that it does not remember the passwords to connected databases despite of multiple attempts. The reason, as you can find on multiple online user forums, is two-fold: automatic silent migration of  user settings from a previous installed version of SSMS (if it exists) and SSMS switching to using Windows Credentials Manager for password storage.

To fix the problem, you'll need to remove the currently stored credentials and also the SSMS 18 user settings folder. Make sure SSMS is not running while doing that. After the clean-up and starting SSMS it will ask to import user setting from an older SSMS so please don't do that. After that saving passwords starts working again. SSMS user settings folder is located at c:\users\[USER NAME]\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SQL Server Management Studio\18.0.

Extensions Loading Problem

If you had some extensions installed for a previous version of SSMS you may see a start-up error "Error loading extension ...". Seemingly, this error won't affect how SSMS works but it may be annoying. Unfortunately, there is nothing in SSMS UI that can deal with extensions, so just navigate to an extensions folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE\Extensions and remove offensive folders that don't belong there.

Hopefully, these tips above are helpful. Don't hesitate to leave comments if you have different experience.

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