Free SAS


SAS, Inc., has made available two free versions of SAS to Windows, Mac, and Linux users:

Although free, they are "real" SAS.  However, they can only be used for learning and educational purposes and for academic research at VCU that is not being published for profit.

The major differences between them are:

  • SAS University Edition is installed on and runs on your local computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux).
  • SAS OnDemand runs "in the cloud" instead of on your local computer.  You use a web browser to access it.  It contains a few more products than SAS University Edition.

Both free SAS versions provide the following products:

  • Base SAS
  • SAS/ACCESS Interface to PC Files
  • SAS Studio

SAS OnDemand provides these additional products:

  • SAS/OR
  • SAS/QC

If you create a course in SAS OnDemand (anyone can create a course - see below), these additional products are available for certain platforms (W – Windows,  L – Linux):

  • SAS Enterprise Guide (W)
  • SAS Enterprise Miner (W L)
  • SAS Text Miner (W L)
  • SAS Credit Scoring (W)
  • SAS Forecast Server (W)
  • SAS Enterprise Miner server (W L)
  • SAS Enterprise Miner client (W L)

This brief feature comparison chart compares the two free versions, along with "traditional" SAS (the SAS Education Analytical Suite).  If desired, you can run PROC SETINIT in all three environments to display the the complete list of products that are licensed in each.

Both free versions use SAS Studio, which is similar to the traditional SAS programming environment.  It has the usual SAS editor, log, and results windows, plus it offers some extra facilities and features that are very handy.  Several introductory tutorials are available at SAS Studio video library and among these SAS Analytics U videos.  Also, Biostatistics by Example Using SAS Studio offers an introduction to SAS Studio (VCU users can read this online for free).  (If you have "traditional" SAS installed on a PC, you should also have SAS Studio installed and can launch it from the Start menu, if you wish to try it out.)

Below is additional information about each free SAS version.

SAS OnDemand:

  • SAS OnDemand runs "in the cloud."  That is, you do not install SAS on your computer.  All SAS processing is performed on a remote SAS server that is maintained by SAS, Inc.  An Internet connection is required.  You use a web browser to access SAS OnDemand.  (There is one exception -- if you wish to use Enterprise Guide, a simple installation of that one product on your computer is required.)
  • This getting started page has some basic information and videos.  Be sure to watch the "Register and Log In" video.
  • To use SAS OnDemand, you must first register with SAS by visiting register for SAS OnDemand.
  • If desired, you can easily create a "course" in SAS OnDemand and then invite students (or anyone) to enroll in the course.  Each student must also register with SAS.
  • If you create a course in SAS OnDemand, you and your students can access the additional products listed above in the overview section.
  • Anyone can create a course.  So, if you only want to use those extra products, you can create a "dummy" course, just to get access to the products for yourself.  That is, you do not then have to enroll any students or otherwise make use of the course.
  • When using the products in SAS OnDemand, you can only open and save files in the cloud (i.e., on the remote server).  However, you can separately (and easily) upload files from your local computer to the cloud, and then use them there.  Conversely, you can easily download to your local computer any files that you created in the cloud.  When using SAS Enterprise Guide, you can also open/save files directly on your computer (no separate upload/download needed).  Such files directly uploaded into EG only remain available there during your current EG session, but you can download/save them on your local computer before the session ends, if desired.
  • There is a 5 GB file storage limit for your files in the cloud.  If you have created any courses, you can store an additional 2 GB for use in those courses.
  • Some additional resources:

SAS University Edition (UE):

  • Using SAS UE does not require an Internet connection, except initially when downloading its installation files.  All SAS processing is performed on your local computer.
  • There are no file storage limits, since all files are stored on your computer.
  • Setting up SAS UE requires that you first download and install a free "virtual machine" on your PC or Mac.  This procedure is fairly straightforward, and SAS provides documentation on their website for doing this.  Also, the introduction to SAS UE book noted below contains installation documentation.  And, here is an independent video that describes installation in Windows.  [Note:  On some PCs, especially older ones, you may have to enable virtualization.]
  • Here is the getting started page for obtaining SAS UE (click the "Get free software" link).
  • Some additional resources:

    * VCU users can read these books online for free via Safari Books Online, using these lniks.

  • Usage note:  The instructions for installing SAS UE will have you create a "shared" folder named myfolders on your computer.  You can later use that folder within SAS UE, for example when opening or saving files.

    When you use SAS UE, you refer to that folder as follows (literally):


    For example, here is a program you might write within SAS UE to read raw data from a text file (named somedata.txt) located in that shared folder and to create a SAS dataset (named results) in that folder:

    LIBNAME abc '/folders/myfolders';

    DATA abc.results;

    INFILE '/folders/myfolders/somedata.txt';

    INPUT id age;


This article was updated: 03/15/2019