Now that you understand all the preliminary considerations of installing and using SQL Server, you're ready to install the software. The actual mechanics of installation are simple the installation program starts automatically when you insert the CD into the drive; if it doesn't, you can initiate the installation by executing the autorun.exe program at the root of the SQL Server CD.
SQL Server 7 is installed using the InstallShield program, which is common to many Microsoft products. One advantage of using InstallShield instead of a specific SQL Server Setup program is that you can use the Add/Remove Programs options in the Control Panel to add or remove SQL Server components . In addition, InstallShield makes the process of running an unattended installation much easier than in previous versions. The lengthiest part of installation, along with the mechanics of copying the files, is building and configuring SQL Server's master database, in which SQL Server stores configuration information and information about all other databases, as well as many system stored procedures. If you accept the default character set and sort order, the installation program simply copies a mostly prebuilt master database from the files master.mdf and mastlog.ldf from the CD. These files are in a subfolder called Data, in the folder for the particular architecture of the machine you are installing on, either alpha or x86. After copying these files, the installation program does a small amount of additional configuration. A new installation using the default character set can typically take less than 15 minutes from start to finish (sometimes as little as 5 minutes, depending on the speed of your hardware and how much "think time" you need for the questions). If you do not accept the default character set or sort order, the installation program must reindex the entire master database. This reindexing is a totally automatic operation, but it can add 5 to 10 minutes to the installation time. The total installation time is still usually under 30 minutes.
When the installation program runs and upgrades a previous installation, it rebuilds all the system stored procedures to ensure that the most recent versions are installed. By default, installation does not actually visit or modify the data pages of user databases. When you upgrade from a prior version of SQL Server to SQL Server 7, you must perform an upgrade on any user databases you want to use with SQL Server 7. You can do this during the installation process, or you can upgrade databases one at a time after the installation is complete.
For more details on the installation, see the online documentation and the whitepaper entitled "Installing Microsoft SQL Server 7.0"on the companion CD.