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Azure Data Studio vs SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS): Which one to choose?

Updated: Jan 25

In the dynamic landscape of database management, professionals often face a choice between different tools, each catering to specific needs and preferences. When it comes to working with Microsoft SQL Server, two prominent tools that stand out are Azure Data Studio and SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). Both tools serve as powerful environments for database development, administration, and optimization but differ in their features, capabilities, and intended use cases.

This article aims to explore the distinctions between Azure Data Studio and SQL Server Management Studio, helping users make informed decisions based on their unique requirements.

Azure Data Studio

Azure Data Studio vs SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS): Which one to choose?

Azure Data Studio is a free Microsoft desktop tool, initially called SQL Operations Studio, that can be used to manage SQL Server databases and cloud-based Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse systems. The lightweight software is designed to make routine database development, querying, and administration work easier than with Microsoft's more functional SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) software. As a result, Azure Data Studio is aimed not only at database administrators but also at software developers and other non-DBAs who manage databases as part of their jobs.

Use if you:

  • Are mostly editing or executing queries.

  • Need the ability to quickly chart and visualize result sets.

  • Can execute most administrative tasks via the integrated terminal using sqlcmd or PowerShell.

  • Have the minimal need for wizard experiences.

  • Do not need to do deep administrative or platform-related configuration.

  • Need to run on macOS or Linux.

SQL Server Management Studio

Azure Data Studio vs SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS): Which one to choose?

SQL Server Management Studio is a free multipurpose integrated tool to access, develop, administer, and manage SQL Server databases, Azure SQL Databases, and Azure Synapse Analytics. SSMS allows you to manage SQL Server using a graphical interface. SSMS can also be used to access, configure, manage & administer Analysis services, Reporting services, & Integration services.

Use if you:

  • Are doing complex administrative or platform configuration?

  • Are doing security management, including user management, vulnerability assessment, and configuration of security features.

  • Need to make use of performance tuning advisors and dashboards.

  • Use database diagrams and table designers.

  • Need access to Registered Servers.

  • Make use of live query stats or client statistics.

Difference Between Azure Data Studio and SSMS


Azure Data Studio

SSMS supports Windows

Azure Data Studio supports Windows, Linux, and Mac.

It has the feature to create charts but not as compared to Azure Data Studio

It has the features to create the charts.

In SSMS, we can import or export data from CSV, Oracle, or other formats, but only if you have SQL Server Integration Services (SSDT) installed. SSMS calls SQL Server import/export Wizard.

In Azure, you can easily export to Excel, JSON, CSV, and XML. To import, you need to install the SQL Server Import extension.

You can use a dark mode theme in SSMS but for that, you need to modify the ssms.pkgundef file.

In this, you can easily use dark theme mode.

SSMS does not have a schema compare option to compare schemas of database objects

Azure Data Studio has an extension to compare schemas. Install SQL Server Schema compare extension to do so.

For spatial data, you can visualize the data with SSMS.

In this, we don't have the option.

In SSMS, you can write T-SQL, XMLA, DMX, MDX, and TMSL.

In Azure Data Studio, you can code for Powershell, Python, R, SQL, XML, XSL, YAML, etc.

SSMS does not include a notebook.

Azure Data Studio includes a notebook in which you can document and reuse your code and also share it

The Tech Platform


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