Use the Availability Group Wizard (SQL Server Management Studio)

Applies to: SQL Server

This topic describes how to use the New Availability Group Wizard in SQL Server Management Studio to create and configure an Always On availability group in SQL Server. An availability group defines a set of user databases that will fail over as a single unit and a set of failover partners, known as availability replicas, that support failover.


For an introduction to availability groups, see Overview of Always On Availability Groups (SQL Server).

Before You Begin

We strongly recommend that you read this section before attempting to create your first availability group.

Prerequisites, Restrictions, and Recommendations

In most cases, you can use the New Availability Group Wizard to complete all of the tasks require to create and configure an availability group. However, you might need to complete some of the tasks manually.

  • If you are using a Windows Server Failover Cluster (WSFC) cluster type to host availability group, verify that the instances of SQL Server that host the availability replicas reside on different cluster servers (or nodes) within the same WSFC. Also, verify that each of the server instances meets all other Always On availability groups prerequisites. For more information, we strongly recommend that you read Prerequisites, Restrictions, and Recommendations for Always On Availability Groups (SQL Server).

  • If a server instance that you select to host an availability replica is running under a domain user account and does not yet have a database mirroring endpoint, the wizard can create the endpoint and grant CONNECT permission to the server instance service account. However, if the SQL Server service is running as a built-in account, such as Local System, Local Service, or Network Service, or a nondomain account, you must use certificates for endpoint authentication, and the wizard will be unable to create a database mirroring endpoint on the server instance. In this case, we recommend that you create the database mirroring endpoints manually before you launch the New Availability Group Wizard.

    To use certificates for a database mirroring endpoint:


    Use Certificates for a Database Mirroring Endpoint (Transact-SQL)

  • SQL Server Failover Cluster Instances (FCIs) do not support automatic failover by availability groups, so any availability replica that is hosted by an FCI can only be configured for manual failover.

  • Prerequisites for the wizard to perform full initial data synchronization

    • All the database-file paths must be identical on every server instance that hosts a replica for the availability group.

    • No primary database name can exist on any server instance that hosts a secondary replica. This means that none of the new secondary databases can exist yet.

    • You will need to specify a network share in order for the wizard to create and access backups. For the primary replica, the account used to start the Database Engine must have read and write file-system permissions on a network share. For secondary replicas, the account must have read permission on the network share.


      The log backups will be part of your log backup chain. Store the log backup files appropriately.

    If you are unable to use the wizard to perform full initial data synchronization, you need to prepare your secondary databases manually. You can do this before or after running the wizard. For more information, see Manually Prepare a Secondary Database for an Availability Group (SQL Server).



Requires membership in the sysadmin fixed server role and either CREATE AVAILABILITY GROUP server permission, ALTER ANY AVAILABILITY GROUP permission, or CONTROL SERVER permission.

Also requires CONTROL ON ENDPOINT permission if you want to allow Availability Group Wizard to manage the database mirroring endpoint.

Using the New Availability Group Wizard

  1. In Object Explorer, connect to the server instance that hosts the primary replica.

  2. Expand the Always On High Availability node and the Availability Groups node.

  3. To launch the New Availability Group Wizard, select the New Availability Group Wizard command.

  4. The first time you run this wizard, an Introduction page appears. To bypass this page in the future, you can click Do not show this page again. After reading this page, click Next.

  5. On the Specify Availability Group Options page, enter the name of the new availability group in the Availability group name field. This name must be a valid SQL Server identifier that is unique on the cluster and in your domain as a whole. The maximum length for an availability group name is 128 characters.

  6. Next, specify the cluster type. The possible cluster types depend on the SQL Server version and operating system. Choose either WSFC, EXTERNAL, or NONE. For details see Specify Availability Group Name Page

  7. On the Select Databases page, the grid lists user databases on the connected server instance that are eligible to become the availability databases. Select one or more of the listed databases to participate in the new availability group. These databases will initially be the initial primary databases.

    For each listed database, the Size column displays the database size, if known. The Status column indicates whether a given database meets the prerequisitesfor availability databases. It the prerequisites are not met, a brief status description indicates the reason that the database is ineligible; for example, if it does not use the full recovery model. For more information, click the status description.

    If you change a database to make it eligible, click Refresh to update the databases grid.

    If the database contains a database master key, enter the password for the database master key in the Password column.

  8. On the Specify Replicas page, specify and configure one or more replicas for the new availability group. This page contains four tabs. The following table introduces these tabs. For more information, see the Specify Replicas Page (New Availability Group Wizard: Add Replica Wizard) topic.

    Tab Brief Description
    Replicas Use this tab to specify each instance of SQL Server that will host a secondary replica. Note that the server instance to which you are currently connected must host the primary replica.
    Endpoints Use this tab to verify any existing database mirroring endpoints and also, if this endpoint is lacking on a server instance whose service accounts use Windows Authentication, to create the endpoint automatically.

    Note: If any server instance is running under a non-domain user account, you need to do make a manual change to your server instance before you can proceed in the wizard. For more information, see Prerequisites, earlier in this topic.
    Backup Preferences Use this tab to specify your backup preference for the availability group as a whole and your backup priorities for the individual availability replicas.
    Listener Use this tab to create an availability group listener. By default, the wizard does not create a listener.
  9. On the Select Initial Data Synchronization page, choose how you want your new secondary databases to be created and joined to the availability group. Choose one of the following options:

    • Automatic seeding

      SQL Server automatically creates the secondary replicas for every database in the group. Automatic seeding requires that the data and log file paths are the same on every SQL Server instance participating in the group. Available on SQL Server 2016 (13.x) and later. See Automatically initialize Always On Availability group.

    • Full database and log backup

      Select this option if your environment meets the requirements for automatically starting initial data synchronization (for more information, see Prerequisites, Restrictions, and Recommendations, earlier in this topic).

      If you select Full, after creating the availability group, the wizard will back up every primary database and its transaction log to a network share and restore the backups on every server instance that hosts an secondary replica. The wizard will then join every secondary database to the availability group.

      In the Specify a shared network location accessible by all replicas: field, specify a backup share to which all of the server instance that host replicas have read-write access. For more information, see Prerequisites, earlier in this topic. In the validation step, the wizard will perform a test to make sure the provided network location is valid, the test will create a database on the primary replica named "BackupLocDb_" followed by a Guid and perform backup to the provided network location, then restore it on the secondary replicas. It is safe to delete this database along with its backup history and backup file in case the wizard failed to delete them.

    • Join only

      If you have manually prepared secondary databases on the server instances that will host the secondary replicas, you can select this option. The wizard will join the existing secondary databases to the availability group.

    • Skip initial data synchronization

      Select this option if you want to use your own database and log backups of your primary databases. For more information, see Start Data Movement on an Always On Secondary Database (SQL Server).

  10. The Validation page verifies whether the values you specified in this Wizard meet the requirements of the New Availability Group Wizard. To make a change, click Previous to return to an earlier wizard page to change one or more values. The click Next to return to the Validation page, and click Re-run Validation.

  11. On the Summary page, review your choices for the new availability group. To make a change, click Previous to return to the relevant page. After making the change, click Next to return to the Summary page.


    When the SQL Server service account of a server instance that will host a new availability replica does not already exist as a login, the New Availability Group Wizard needs to create the login. On the Summary page, the wizard displays the information for the login that is to be created. If you click Finish, the wizard creates this login for the SQL Server service account and grants the login CONNECT permission.

    If you are satisfied with your selections, optionally click Script to create a script of the steps the wizard will execute. Then, to create and configure the new availability group, click Finish.

  12. The Progress page displays the progress of the steps for creating the availability group (configuring endpoints, creating the availability group, and joining the secondary replica to the group).

  13. When these steps complete, the Results page displays the result of each step. If all these steps succeed, the new availability group is completely configured. If any of the steps result in an error, you might need to manually complete the configuration or use a wizard for the failed step. For information about the cause of a given error, click the associated "Error" link in the Result column.

    When the wizard completes, click Close to exit.

Related Tasks

To complete availability group configuration

Alternative ways to create an availability group

To enable Always On Availability Groups

To configure a database mirroring endpoint

To troubleshoot Always On Availability Groups configuration

Related Content

Alternate ways to create availability groups

As an alternative to using the New Availability Group Wizard, you can use Transact-SQL or SQL Server PowerShell cmdlets. For more information, see Create an Availability Group (Transact-SQL) or Create an Availability Group (SQL Server PowerShell).

See Also

The Database Mirroring Endpoint (SQL Server)
Overview of Always On Availability Groups (SQL Server)
Prerequisites, Restrictions, and Recommendations for Always On Availability Groups (SQL Server)