Select Page

What is Sitefinity?

Sitefinity is a Content Management System, developed by Progress and becoming one of the top-tier web CMS. Sitefinity can fit in any need, whether you are a developer or a business owner without any technical knowledge, this CMS suits many end-users.

I have been using WordPress for a long time and when comparing to Sitefinity, there is a significant difference and benefits that Sitefinity offers.

One of the major differences is the language written. Sitefinity uses ASP.NET, with the support of Microsoft framework, the business owners can inherit the power of security, performance and built-in marketing features.

Due to its complex development frameworks, no period stand-alone package is available.

Instead, Progress offers 2 solutions for any organization, either via Online Sandbox which is a cloud-based self-host or a downloadable CMS to adopt within your own database environment.

You have 30 days trial on either option, the Online Sandbox was created solely for non-technical involvement whilst an offline setup is purely for developers.

With a kick-start of this series, we will go after the easiest manual way – Set up Sitefinity CMS with Microsoft SQL Server Express.

Install Sitefinity Project Manager

Go to Sitefinity official download page, this is where you will see a big blue option for downloading trial. I will be installing on Windows 10 64-bit OS so keep in mind your machine should meet the requirements before proceeding forward.

I will be using version 12.0 (latest at this point) for experimenting purpose.

NOTE: Sitefinity does not run on Windows XP. You must update your Microsoft .NET Framework to at least version 4.7.1.

The next step is a form with your information. In order to install you will need to enter the Activation Key that is sent to your email.

After you click Download, go ahead and open up the EXE file that you just received. Simultaneously, an email with a code is sent to you as well as the default credentials for logging in CMS once the setup is completed. Keep them handy for later use.

NOTE: The default credentials should be your email address as the login ID and “admin” for the password, you can change the password at any point after.

Once you start the installer, specify the directory as you wish, make sure you agree to the terms and hit Next. Sitefinity requires approximately 500MB and I recommend to install on the system disk.

Remember the email with the code that I mentioned earlier? Fill it in and hit Install.

Sitefinity will automatically download the necessary files and install itself, the procedure may take about 5 minutes, possibly longer depends on your internet.

Once the setup’s completed, a couple of things are going to happen:

  • Sitefinity installed a portal application called Sitefinity Project Manager.
  • Your default browser prompts you to the Project Startup page.

At this stage, you successfully installed Sitefinity on the local machine by looking at the address bar, the accessible link should be something like localhost:xxxxxx/Sitefinity/Startup.

Along with it is a Project Manager where you can create or modify a site. Sitefinity by default created a site named Default and ready for you to experiment.

In addition, CMS is an environment that needs a database to store the data, it’s the rule for every CMS nowadays.

Some users may be unfamiliar with this kind of setup especially the fans of WordPress. In case you don’t notice, WordPress needs a database too but since It’s the most popular platform, the host providers make it so easy for you with auto installation.

Similarly, Sitefinity offers 4 options to connect your site to a database. Each type has its own advantage and disadvantage however their characteristics are beyond this scope.

In this article, we will use Microsoft SQL Server Express to connect with Sitefinity.

Install Microsoft SQL Server Express

Follow this link to the official Microsoft SQL Express download page. Select the Express edition and open the file you just downloaded.

Ignore the Custom and Download Media tabs since these two are not necessary for this course’s flow, the Basic setup is sufficient to get you to the end.

NOTE: Although Basic setup, the Express Edition does add some extra applications on top of SQL Server to support the database platform.

Once you Accept the Terms and choose your desired install location then you are good to go.

Again, you will need access to the internet for setting up. At this stage, you do not need to take any further engagement as it will download the files itself.

Once done, a final screen will show the results of installation unless you’d like to reallocate the directories which I do not recommend.

What you need is just a click on Connect Now button, as soon as the Command Prompt starts, you can safely close it and record the Instance Name by either screenshot this panel or note it down somewhere.

Keep in mind that whenever you install SQL Server Express, the Instance name always stays the same as SQLEXPRESS so it’s fine if you forgot it.

At the same time, a few extra applications have been installed on your computer, 2 of them that we will use often:

  • SQL Server 2017 Configuration
  • SQL Server 2017 Installation Center

Open up the SQL Server 2017 Configuration to double-check the status of SQL Express instance.

Under SQL Server Services, the SQL Server (SQLEXPRESS) should show Running state. In this circumstance, we are all ready to fire up.

Return to the browser, tick the Server Express option, and put in the Instance name as it should be always SQLEXPRESS and go to the next page.

Remember I mentioned the default credentials to log in in the beginning? You can update your password here and your info.

If nothing goes wrong, your Sitefinity will be pushing through and your very first dashboard is onboard.


  • By using SQL Server Express linking service, Sitefinity automatically creates a database by itself.
  • Use SQL Server Management Studio to grant access to the instances and able to look into any database.
  • In real-life business, hardware does affect both SQL processes and Sitefinity, consider upgrading RAM and SSD for the best performance.


Through this tutorial, you should know:

  • How to install Sitefinity on localhost.
  • Connect Microsoft SQL Server Express Database to work with Sitefinity.
  • Understand the benefit of a database over a CMS platform.

Although this is just the head start, yet we have created a template and many other features but I hope this tutorial will give you more confidence in developing your Sitefinity skill.

If you are facing any issue or confused leave me a comment, I’m more than happy to help you.