Authorize database access to SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance, and Azure Synapse Analytics

Applies to: Azure SQL Database Azure SQL Managed Instance Azure Synapse Analytics

In this article, you learn about:

  • Configuration options for Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance, and Azure Synapse Analytics that enable users to perform administrative tasks and to access data stored in these databases.
  • Access and authorization configuration after a new server is initially created.
  • How to add logins and user accounts in the master database and then grant these accounts administrative permissions.
  • How to add user accounts in user databases, either associated with logins or as contained user accounts.
  • Configure user accounts with permissions in user databases by using database roles and explicit permissions.


Databases in Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance, and Azure Synapse are referred to collectively in the remainder of this article as databases, and the server is referring to the logical server that manages databases for Azure SQL Database and Azure Synapse.


Microsoft Entra ID was previously known as Azure Active Directory (Azure AD).

Authentication and authorization

Authentication is the process of proving the user is who they claim to be. A user connects to a database using a user account. When a user attempts to connect to a database, they provide a user account and authentication information. The user is authenticated using one of the following two authentication methods:

Logins and users: A user account in a database can be associated with a login that is stored in the master database or can be a user name that is stored in an individual database.

  • A login is an individual account in the master database, to which a user account in one or more databases can be linked. With a login, the credential information for the user account is stored with the login.
  • A user account is an individual account in any database that might be, but does not have to be, linked to a login. With a user account that is not linked to a login, the credential information is stored with the user account.

Authorization to access data and perform various actions are managed using database roles and explicit permissions. Authorization refers to the permissions assigned to a user, and determines what that user is allowed to do. Authorization is controlled by your user account's database role memberships and object-level permissions. As a best practice, you should grant users the least privileges necessary.

Existing logins and user accounts after creating a new database

When you first deploy Azure SQL, you can specify a login name and a password for a special type of administrative login, the Server admin. The following configuration of logins and users in the master and user databases occurs during deployment:

  • A SQL login with administrative privileges is created using the login name you specified. A login is an individual account for logging in to SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance, and Azure Synapse.
  • This login is granted full administrative permissions on all databases as a server-level principal. The login has all available permissions and can't be limited. In a SQL Managed Instance, this login is added to the sysadmin fixed server role (this role does not exist in Azure SQL Database).
  • When this account signs into a database, they are matched to the special user account dbo (user account, which exists in each user database. The dbo user has all database permissions in the database and is member of the db_owner fixed database role. Additional fixed database roles are discussed later in this article.

To identify the Server admin account, open the Azure portal, and navigate to the Properties tab of your logical server or managed instance:

Screenshot shows the SQL Server Properties page where you can obtain the Server admin login and Microsoft Entra admin values.

Screenshot shows the SQL managed instance Properties page where you can obtain the login and Microsoft Entra admin values.


The name of the Server admin account can't be changed after it has been created. To reset the password for the server admin, go to the Azure portal, select SQL Servers, select the server from the list, and then select Reset Password. To reset the password for the SQL Managed Instance, go to the Azure portal, select the instance, and select Reset password. You can also use PowerShell or the Azure CLI.

Create additional logins and users having administrative permissions

At this point, your server or managed instance is only configured for access using a single SQL login and user account. To create additional logins with full or partial administrative permissions, you have the following options (depending on your deployment mode):

  • Create a Microsoft Entra administrator account with full administrative permissions

    Enable Microsoft Entra authentication and add a Microsoft Entra admin. One Microsoft Entra account can be configured as an administrator of the Azure SQL deployment with full administrative permissions. This account can be either an individual or security group account. A Microsoft Entra admin must be configured if you want to use Microsoft Entra accounts to connect to SQL Database, SQL Managed Instance, or Azure Synapse. For detailed information on enabling Microsoft Entra authentication for all Azure SQL deployment types, see the following articles:

  • In SQL Managed Instance, create SQL logins with full administrative permissions


    The dbmanager and loginmanager roles do not pertain to Azure SQL Managed Instance deployments.

  • In SQL Database, create SQL logins with limited administrative permissions

    • Create an additional SQL login in the master database.
    • Add the Login to the ##MS_DatabaseManager##, ##MS_LoginManager## and ##MS_DatabaseConnector## server level roles using the ALTER SERVER ROLE statement.

    Members of special master database roles for Azure SQL Database have authority to create and manage databases or to create and manage logins. In databases created by a user that is a member of the dbmanager role, the member is mapped to the db_owner fixed database role and can log into and manage that database using the dbo user account. These roles have no explicit permissions outside of the master database.


    You can't create an additional SQL login with full administrative permissions in Azure SQL Database. Only the server admin account or the Microsoft Entra admin account (which can be a Microsoft Entra group) can add or remove other logins to or from server roles. This is specific to Azure SQL Database.

  • In Azure Synapse dedicated SQL pool, create SQL logins with limited administrative permissions

    • Create an additional SQL login in the master database.
    • Create a user account in the master database associated with this new login.
    • Add the user account to the dbmanager, the loginmanager role, or both in the master database using the sp_addrolemember statement.
  • In Azure Synapse serverless SQL pool, create SQL logins with limited administrative permissions

Create accounts for non-administrator users

You can create accounts for non-administrative users using one of two methods:

  • Create a login

    Create a SQL login in the master database. Then create a user account in each database to which that user needs access and associate the user account with that login. This approach is preferred when the user must access multiple databases and you wish to keep the passwords synchronized. However, this approach has complexities when used with geo-replication as the login must be created on both the primary server and the secondary server(s). For more information, see Configure and manage Azure SQL Database security for geo-restore or failover.

  • Create a user account

    Create a user account in the database to which a user needs access (also called a contained user).

    • With SQL Database, you can always create this type of user account.
    • With SQL Managed Instance supporting Microsoft Entra server principals, you can create user accounts to authenticate to the SQL Managed Instance without requiring database users to be created as a contained database user.

    With this approach, the user authentication information is stored in each database, and replicated to geo-replicated databases automatically. However, if the same account exists in multiple databases and you are using SQL authentication, you must keep the passwords synchronized manually. Additionally, if a user has an account in different databases with different passwords, remembering those passwords can become a problem.


To create contained users mapped to Microsoft Entra identities, you must be logged in using a Microsoft Entra account in the database in Azure SQL Database. In SQL Managed Instance, a SQL login with sysadmin permissions can also create a Microsoft Entra login or user.

For examples showing how to create logins and users, see:


For a security tutorial that includes creating users in Azure SQL Database, see Tutorial: Secure Azure SQL Database.

Using fixed and custom database roles

After creating a user account in a database, either based on a login or as a contained user, you can authorize that user to perform various actions and to access data in a particular database. You can use the following methods to authorize access:

  • Fixed database roles

    Add the user account to a fixed database role. There are 9 fixed database roles, each with a defined set of permissions. The most common fixed database roles are: db_owner, db_ddladmin, db_datawriter, db_datareader, db_denydatawriter, and db_denydatareader. db_owner is commonly used to grant full permission to only a few users. The other fixed database roles are useful for getting a simple database in development quickly, but are not recommended for most production databases. For example, the db_datareader fixed database role grants read access to every table in the database, which is more than is strictly necessary.

  • Custom database role

    Create a custom database role using the CREATE ROLE statement. A custom role enables you to create your own user-defined database roles and carefully grant each role the least permissions necessary for the business need. You can then add users to the custom role. When a user is a member of multiple roles, they aggregate the permissions of them all.

  • Grant permissions directly

    Grant the user account permissions directly. There are over 100 permissions that can be individually granted or denied in SQL Database. Many of these permissions are nested. For example, the UPDATE permission on a schema includes the UPDATE permission on each table within that schema. As in most permission systems, the denial of a permission overrides a grant. Because of the nested nature and the number of permissions, it can take careful study to design an appropriate permission system to properly protect your database. Start with the list of permissions at Permissions (Database Engine) and review the poster size graphic of the permissions.

Using groups

Efficient access management uses permissions assigned to Active Directory security groups and fixed or custom roles instead of to individual users.

  • When using Microsoft Entra authentication, put Microsoft Entra users into a Microsoft Entra security group. Create a contained database user for the group. Add one or more database users as a member to custom or builtin database roles with the specific permissions appropriate to that group of users.

  • When using SQL authentication, create contained database users in the database. Place one or more database users into a custom database role with specific permissions appropriate to that group of users.


    You can also use groups for non-contained database users.

You should familiarize yourself with the following features that can be used to limit or elevate permissions:

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