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What is the difference between Windows Authentication and SQL Authentication?
On Friday, June 9th 2006 at 05:00 AM
By Andrew Pociu (View Profile)
(Rated 3.4 with 27 votes)
SQL AuthenticationSQL Authentication is the typical authentication used for various database systems, composed of a username and a password. Obviously, an instance of SQL Server can have multiple such user accounts (using SQL authentication) with different usernames and passwords. In shared servers where different users should have access to different databases, SQL authentication should be used. Also, when a client (remote computer) connects to an instance of SQL Server on other computer than the one on which the client is running, SQL Server authentication is needed. Even if you don't define any SQL Server user accounts, at the time of installation a root account - sa - is added with the password you provided. Just like any SQL Server account, this can be used to log-in localy or remotely, however if an application is the one that does the log in, and it should have access to only one database, it's strongly recommended that you don't use the sa account, but create a new one with limited access. Overall, SQL authentication is the main authentication method to be used while the one we review below - Windows Authentication - is more of a convenience.
Windows AuthenticationWhen you are accessing SQL Server from the same computer it is installed on, you shouldn't be prompted to type in an username and password. And you are not, if you're using Windows Authentication. With Windows Authentication, the SQL Server service already knows that someone is logged in into the operating system with the correct credentials, and it uses these credentials to allow the user into its databases. Of course, this works as long as the client resides on the same computer as the SQL Server, or as long as the connecting client matches the Windows credentials of the server. Windows Authentication is often used as a more convenient way to log-in into a SQL Server instance without typing a username and a password, however when more users are envolved, or remote connections are being established with the SQL Server, SQL authentication should be used.
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