Apply a service pack or hotfix SQL Server 2008 to a failover cluster instance

Apply a service pack or patch SQL Server 2008 in a clustered environment
    Step 1 : Validation wizard
    Step 2 : Pre-check
    Step 3 : Installation of the first node
    Step 4 : Add a new node
    Step 5: Apply a service pack or hotfix on a SQL cluster

Installing Service Pack SQL Server 2008 in failover cluster is very different than the SQL Server 2005 cluster failover.

With SQL Server 2005, when you start installing cluster service pack (or hotfix), it must be launched on the active node (node that hosts the instance). When installing the Setup will launch simultaneously  "remote silence" on all passive nodes. All nodes in the cluster containing the SQL Server instance are updated in the same time.

With SQL Server 2008, to reduce the downtime, we have revised the method of deployment. Now if you want to apply a service pack (or hotfix), you must install in first on the passive nodes. The passive nodes are updated before the active node.

Therefore, for your instance SQL Server 2008  in failover cluster, you must follow the scenario below for the application of Service Pack, Cumulative Update or Hotfix :

1.  Apply the hotfix on pasive node N2
2.  Reboot the passive node N2
3.  Failover on SQL resource : the passive node become the active node
4.  Apply the hotfix on the passive node N1
5.  Reboot the passive node N1

You can check the version of SQL server with the following query:


      SERVERPROPERTY('IsClustered') as _1_Means_Clustered ,  
SERVERPROPERTY('Edition') as Edition ,  
SERVERPROPERTY('ProductVersion') as Version  ,
SERVERPROPERTY('ComputerNamePhysicalNetBIOS') as ActiveNode


SQL 2008 cluster failover
SQL 2008 Cluster failover
SQL 2008 Cluster Failover

SQL Server 2008 failover cluster rolling patch and service pack process

How to update or slipstream an installation of SQL Server 2008

Michel Degremont | Microsoft EMEA
Product Support Services Developer - SQL Server Core Engineer |

Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know how internally services will be updated? I mean to say, if we are installing Service Pack 3 on SQL server 2008 Passive node (Without removing that node from cluster according to this article), what would be installed on that passive node. As per I know there won't be any SQL server services to update on that node, eventhough if we would have client tool, it should update only new features related to the installed tools. So how would the services will be updated? I am comparing it to SQL 2K5, that when we do update on active node, it will update the database engine service on that node.So, SQL 2k8 come up with separate update for database engine service irrelevant of nodes? That means if we failover to Passive, DB Engine or Server automatically runs under SP3? and similar thing we can do with Active?

    Please clarify.



  2. Degremont Michel says:

    Hi Mark,

    SQL Server Failover is an Active/Passive cluster.

    When someone says Active/active for SQL Server, that means 2 instances are hosted by the cluster. First instance is on the fist node, and the second one, on  the second node.

  3. Degremont Michel says:


    SQL 2005 and 2008 are really different regarding the cluster installation.

    With SQL 2005, the setup will install in silence on all nodes.

    But with 2008 you have to run the SP on each node. The SP will first update the binaries files. Then when you will failover on the passive node, during the startup a script will be run. If you have a look inside SQL Serve error log, you will see some information about this script.

    I confirm you that you don’t need to remove any node during the setup of SP.



  4. Anonymous says:

    Thak you Michel – simple and to the point.

  5. Deepti says:

    Thanks a Ton for simplifying the process of Installing the SQL 2008 Service Pack, since it is different in both 2005 and 2008. I now understand the difference!

  6. Nicolaas says:

    Hi Michel, thanks for the information, 2008 seems much more simpler, but I just wanted to check one thing – do you have to make any cluster modification to the cluster, i.e. remove the passive node from the activepassive fail-over cluster and the list of possible network resource owners, before you patch it?

  7. Mark says:

    What if it is and ActiveActive cluster?

  8. Yuval says:

    Attached the offical installation procedure:…/958734

  9. Prashant Deshpande says:

    Lovely Document, cleared the Setup idea

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