One of the hurdles that faces new SQL Server 2005 Express Edition users is getting connected to the database. The tool that you'll probably use first is SQL Server Management Studio Express (SSMSE). To connect to SQL Server Express, you need to supply the instance name of the database that you want to connect to. You can use SSMSE to connect to either local or remote instances of SQL Server Express.

The default local installation of SQL Server Express uses the instance name SQLExpress but you have the option of changing this name during the installation process. To connect to the default instance of SQL Server Express, first start SSMSE by using the SQL Server 2005, SQL Server Management Studio Express option located in the Start menu. In the Connect to Server box, fill in the Server Name dialog box with one of the following values: .\sqlexpress, (local)\sqlexpress, or \sqlexpress. The .\sqlexpress and (local)\sqlexpress values essentially instruct SSMSE to connect to the local system. One point to remember is that by default, the (local)\sqlexpress value uses the Shared Memory provider, which is the fastest client database connection. However, the Shared Memory provider can be used only when the connection is taking place on the same physical system as the SQL Server Express database. As you might expect, if you want to connect to a remote SQL Server Express database, you need to specify the \sqlexpress instance name.