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Windows versus SQL Server authentication for new data source

We are trying to migrate our database from MS Access to MS SQL Server 2000. And all the data has been imported from Access to SQL Server. This will be an Access application as front end and SQL Server database as the back end. We have over 800 users globally using MS Access to log on, and the SQL Server database is located in our headquarters lab. My two questions now are below:
  • When I create a new data source to SQL Server through ODBC on a client workstation, two options in "Create a new Data Source to SQL Server" box: 1. with Windows authentication, 2. with SQL Server authentication, which option should I select in that box?
  • If I select Windows authentication in that box, what are the advantages and disadvantages? If I select SQL Server authentication, then I need to create over 800 users on the SQL Server machine, is that correct?
Note: SQL Server 2000 is installed as SQL Server authentication.

The basic answer is if you are in a Windows domain and have no restrictions, then set the SQL Server to use Windows Only. This allows you to manage all of your users in one place, the domain. The passwords exist once, have expirations, password strength can be enforced, and accounts locked out on failed login. This also allows you to place users into Windows groups based on data access, grant access to SQL Server to those groups, and then grant appropriate access on objects to those groups. This gets you away from having to define permissions for each individual user.


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This was last published in March 2003

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