What are the authentication modes in SQL server? How can it be changed?

Asked 06-Dec-2019
Updated 22-Aug-2023
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SQL Server, a widely used relational database management system, offers two main authentication modes: Windows Authentication Mode and Mixed Mode (Windows Authentication and SQL Server Authentication). These modes determine how users can connect to the SQL Server instance.

1. **Windows Authentication Mode**:
  - Also known as Integrated Security or Windows NT Authentication.
  - In this mode, users connect to SQL Server using their Windows credentials, such as their Windows usernames and passwords.
  - Windows Authentication Mode leverages the security features of the Windows operating system, making it a recommended choice for many organizations. It simplifies user management, as SQL Server relies on Windows accounts, which can be centrally managed through Active Directory.
  - It is typically considered more secure because it eliminates the need to store SQL Server-specific usernames and passwords.

2. **Mixed Mode** (Windows Authentication and SQL Server Authentication):
  - In this mode, users can connect to SQL Server using either Windows authentication or SQL Server-specific credentials (username and password).
  - SQL Server Authentication provides flexibility, allowing users who may not have Windows accounts or for applications that do not support Windows authentication to connect to the database.

Changing the authentication mode in SQL Server involves specific steps:

**Using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)**:

 

1. Right-click on the server name in the Object Explorer and select "Properties."

2.  In the Server Properties dialog, navigate to the "Security" page.


3. Save the changes and, if necessary, restart the SQL Server service for the changes to take effect.

**Using Transact-SQL (T-SQL)**:

Alternatively, you can use T-SQL commands to change the authentication mode. For example, you can execute T-SQL scripts to switch between the modes as needed.

In conclusion, understanding and managing authentication modes in SQL Server is crucial for configuring the security and accessibility of your database server. Windows Authentication Mode is typically recommended for its security and centralized account management through Windows domains, while Mixed Mode provides flexibility for scenarios where SQL Server Authentication is required. The choice of mode should align with your organization's security policies and application requirements.