How to setup and use a SQL Server alias

By:   |   Comments (30)   |   Related: > SQL Server Configurations


I have an application that has a specified database connection that I either can't or don't want to change. However, I need to move the database to a new server. How can I do this easily without breaking other things that maybe using this connection and/or database?


By using an alias, we can keep the application configuration the same, but tell the operating system to look somewhere else for the database. One proviso is that once an alias is created, it is set at the operating system level. That means if we have two applications which connect to MySQLServer on that computer, once the alias is created, both will be re-pointed based on the alias. You can create an alias using one of two utilities:

  1. SQL Server Configuration Manager
  2. SQL Server Client Network Utility

SQL Server Configuration Manager

Let's start by looking at how to do it using SQL Server Configuration Manager. In the left pane of SQL Server Configuration Manager, if you expand the SQL Native Client Configuration folder, there is a subfolder called Aliases (see Figure 1). If we click on this subfolder, we'll see any aliases that have been defined for the system shown in the right pane. In most cases, there won't be any defined. To create a new alias, right-click on Aliases and choose New Alias... from the pop-up menu.

Figure 1:


A dialog window comes up (Figure 2) which allows us to specify our new alias. In the Alias Name property, you specify the name the application uses. For instance, if it connects to a SQL Server called MyOldServer, that's what you enter in here. You can also enter an alias that appears to point to a named instance, such as MyOldServer\MyInstance. You can then specify the server where the database really is, to include configuring the protocol, the server name, and the port. Clicking the OK button will create the alias. In the case of Figure 2, I'm creating an alias called MyOldServer which points to my local server's default instance.

Figure 2:


You should now see the new alias listed in the right pane (Figure 3).

Figure 3:

local host

The next step is to test the connection. You can do so quickly by either creating and testing a Data Source Name (DSN), or if you have the SQL Server client tools installed, by using SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS). I'll do so using SSMS. Figure 4 shows the dialog window to open a new connection to a database engine. For Server name:, enter in the alias you specified. In the example we called the alias OldServerName, so that's what we'll use here.

Figure 4:

database engine

If the alias is pointed correctly to the new location, a successful connection should be established. In SSMS, I was opening a new connection for Object Explorer. Figure 5 shows that the connection was successfully made using the alias. Note that as far as SSMS is concerned, the server name is the alias.

Figure 5:

object explorer

SQL Server Client Network Utility

If you haven't installed the SQL Server 2005/2008 client tools, you can still create an alias using the SQL Server Client Network Utility. This has come installed automatically on every operating system from Windows 2000 on. To bring up the utility, click on Start, then Run, and run cliconfg.exe. To view or create aliases, click on the Alias tab (Figure 6). As you can see from Figure 6, aliases created by SQL Server Configuration Manager can be seen by the SQL Server Client Network Utility. The reverse is also true.

Figure 6:

sql server client network utility

To create a new alias, click on the Add... button. This will bring up a new dialog window where you can specify your alias (Figure 7). Just as with SQL Server Configuration Manager, the Server alias is what the application will attempt to connect to. You can specify where that alias points to by specifying the network library, the real server name, and any additional configuration parameters. In Figure 7 I'm creating a new alias called MyOldServer2 that also points to the default instance of my local server.

Figure 7:

add network library configuration

Click the OK button to create the new Alias. In order for the alias to actually be created, however, you must click the OK button for the SQL Server Client Network Utility, which will create the alias as it closes.

Next Steps
  • Now that you know how to create an alias to a SQL Server instance look at this option instead of having to reinstall or rename your servers
  • Some application do not give you the ability to connect to a named instance, so this is another way of connecting without having to use the a default instance

sql server categories

sql server webinars

subscribe to mssqltips

sql server tutorials

sql server white papers

next tip

About the author
MSSQLTips author K. Brian Kelley K. Brian Kelley is a SQL Server author and columnist focusing primarily on SQL Server security.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

View all my tips

Comments For This Article

Monday, August 22, 2022 - 9:20:45 AM - Jeremy Kadlec Back To Top (90396)

Good morning. If I understand what you are asking i.e. Alias a column name in this circumstance, then I believe you would need to move the alias from the WHERE clause to the Column listing. See below:

a.[Mindestbestand] AS Bedarf,
FROM Artikel a JOIN Lieferanten l ON a.LieferantenNr=l.LieferantenNr
WHERE a.Auslaufartikel = 0 AND l.Land = N'Deutschland' AND a.Lagerbestand< a.Mindestbestand,


Thank you,
Jeremy Kadlec
Community Co-Leader

Saturday, August 20, 2022 - 6:39:28 AM - Andrea Back To Top (90391)
i need help to understand: why can't I use the Alias "Bedarf"
Please Help me. I would like to learn something :)
Thanks lots ***********

FROM Artikel a JOIN Lieferanten l ON a.LieferantenNr=l.LieferantenNr
WHERE a.Auslaufartikel = 0 AND l.Land = N'Deutschland' AND a.Lagerbestand< a.Mindestbestand AS Bedarf,

Monday, July 5, 2021 - 10:11:56 PM - Sidhartha Patnaik Back To Top (88947)
Is there any other way to create alias name for database restricted to particular query we are executing?


Tuesday, November 27, 2018 - 12:51:06 AM - Subadeesh Back To Top (78332)

 I tried the first way and it is not able to come up successfully.

Thursday, May 10, 2018 - 9:59:04 AM - K. Brian Kelley Back To Top (75913)

The alias goes on whatever machine acts as the client. In this case, it’s your web server. Keep in mind that any connection which leaves the client (web server) using this name will be redirected by the alias. So if you have a situation where some DBs are on the old SQL Server and some DBs are on the new SQL Server, this won’t work. In your case, this doesn’t sound like an issue since you’ve moved your DBs to the new server. 


If you’re done with the old DB server, and nothing will need to connect to it, once you power it down, having a DNS entry is another option. 


For instance, you can create a CNAME of db1 which points to db2. Or you could create an A record for db1 which has the IP address of db2. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 - 5:56:06 PM - Rick Baker Back To Top (75902)

Which server do you put the alias on? I have to move my databases to a new server and I cannot change the connection string the web server uses. the database server is going from db1 to db2. I can't use the old name, so says the sysadmin...


Our agencies website calls to these databases, and like I said I cannot change the connection strings that the website uses. Do I make the alias then on the web server or on the old database server and leave it running? Or do I put the alias on the new server??



Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 3:56:33 AM - Kal Youssef Back To Top (75600)



Brian I noticed that your agent wasnt running which is my issue right now. I changed the port and disabled named pipes and shared memory and the agent would start and then terminate

If i enable either named pipes or shared memory then it runs fine

Why do you think?


Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 9:13:25 AM - Steven K. Mariner Back To Top (38745)

Found the answer, finally.  You use PowerShell to hack the Registry.



Friday, September 18, 2015 - 1:22:15 PM - Steven K. Mariner Back To Top (38712)

This is a wonderful tutorial on how to do it using the GUI.

What are the commands one would use so six thousand of these can be scripted?



Monday, June 2, 2014 - 1:51:47 AM - Naresh Back To Top (32025)

I have a database with XYZ123 and port number is 8121. Now I want to create a alias to change my database name. will port number same as now 8121? any error due to 1433 ? Explain me as I am beginner to this.

Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 6:35:10 AM - Naresh Bhansali Back To Top (31983)

Thanks for the information. I really need it.

 can this method also be used for IP address ??

 Actually I have some application which have IP address of Servers.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 3:14:16 PM - Jeffrey Ayoub Back To Top (29876)

I am considering using the SQL Server Alias where I work and hoped you can help


I am upgrading a two node Windows Server 2003 SQL Server 2005 Cluster from two older servers to two new servers.  The two new servers will be Windows 2008 R2 Enterprise SQL Server 2008 R2 with all the database set to (90) compatibility level.  We have several applications that connect to the database and it would be difficult to modify them.  I would move from Active/Active to Active/Active 


Q1: Would this method work for Virtual SQL instances?


Q2: Not sure if I understood the article but I would be creating the Alias on the two new servers within the Virtual Clusters


Your help is appreciated. 





Thursday, June 13, 2013 - 2:47:38 AM - Karthik Back To Top (25417)

This article explains creating alias name for a server. If you want to create for sql server, create in linked server using the below query.

 EXEC master.dbo.sp_addlinkedserver @server = N'ALIASNAME', @srvproduct=N'Microsoft', @provider=N'SQLNCLI', @datasrc=N'', @catalog=N'MASTER'


EXEC master.dbo.sp_addlinkedsrvlogin @rmtsrvname=N'ALIASNAME',@useself=N'False',@locallogin=NULL,@rmtuser=N'LOGINNAME',@rmtpassword='strongpassword'

Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 2:31:55 PM - Jim Chandler Back To Top (23688)

I would also be interested in how to do this from the command line.

Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 5:24:25 AM - kumar Back To Top (23680)

Am using SQLSERVER2008 R2       .I tried your steps to change the alise name for the server,but its not working...


any idea.?

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 1:37:56 PM - exhale Back To Top (23425)

How do you refer to it in your ODBC connection?

Thursday, April 18, 2013 - 3:45:01 AM - Arora Back To Top (23412)

Is there a way to do this from the command line?

Friday, August 24, 2012 - 1:23:56 PM - zahoor ali Back To Top (19217)

I am getting error:


Microsoft SQL server Error: 10061


Please suggest!



Tuesday, July 17, 2012 - 3:45:35 PM - Sam S. Back To Top (18586)

Thank you for a great article.

I have created an alias according to your steps on the development server (remote). 

When I am trying to create a connection through a connection manager in my SQL BIDS, or trying to connect through SQL Management Studios, my alias is not being recognized.

Any ideas?


Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 12:25:23 PM - Edward joell Back To Top (18002)

Never mind.  The community comment on this page  pointed out that it is necessary to create that alias in both 32 bit and 64 bit for it to work.

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 12:14:03 PM - Edward joell Back To Top (18001)

Followed instructions.  Port is determined dynamically so made sure SQL Browser was running, and left port blank using configuration manager.  That did not work.  So then used SQL Server network client and set check mark to dynamically determine port. And that did not work.

I am at a loss.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - 4:16:26 AM - Wilfred van Dijk Back To Top (17581)

What about having a SQL2008R2 (on windows2008R2) in 64bit mode? It seems you have to define the alias on the 32bit and 64bit part (in the server config mgr).

I can't get an alias (defined on the server) to work. Client alias definition works, but defining a client alias is not an option (laptops floating around). The definition of an alias on the server should be enough?


Thursday, May 10, 2012 - 3:07:42 PM - Ganesh Back To Top (17403)

Hellow, I have Exported list of all Aliases before formating my PC. Now I wanted to import alises for 100 servers but I do not see Import option on SQL Server Configuration manager. Please let me know the batch process to insert many aliases.

Thanks, Ganesh

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 9:42:31 AM - BobC Back To Top (17360)

@KBrianKelley  Can you compare this to the DNS CName approach?

Monday, February 27, 2012 - 2:13:16 PM - K. Brian Kelley Back To Top (16175)

You don't have to create a new alias. You just have to modify the existing one.

Using the alias is something you'd only consider doing when it's either (a) not doable to change the connection or (b) it requires you to change it in a lot of places or is very hard to change. If the app config is relatively straightforward to change, then you'd make the change. And you may be thinking, does (a) exist? Yes. I've seen 3rd party apps that hard-coded stuff like this during the install. That would be a case where you'd use the alias.

Monday, February 27, 2012 - 11:49:14 AM - LC Back To Top (16174)

What if you have to move a database the second time to another server. Effectively now you will have to create another alias? Thereby the application would make two hops?




Doesn't it make more sense to go into the application's config to change it there, for whatever application it is?

Friday, March 12, 2010 - 10:26:22 AM - Dewy Back To Top (5048)

 Is there a way to do this from the command line?

I have to side by side installations of 2005 and 2008 on my local machine that we use for dev.

In most of our code, our test code assumes (localhost).

What I want to do is create some kind of exe/bat file/script such that I can quickly change which DB is localhost as I switch between projects?



Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 11:47:51 AM - K. Brian Kelley Back To Top (2568)

This is a technique we often used on Windows 2000 servers. The original MDAC that shipped with Windows 2000 didn't support looking up the port for Named Instances. However, if you knew the port, you could create an alias and everything would work just fine.


Thursday, January 15, 2009 - 11:40:18 AM - [email protected] Back To Top (2567)

One case would be, if you have named instance, most likely the port number is not "1433" but something else. You can use Static Port Assignments in SQL Server 2005 article to check what port number and make it static and create alias based on that port number and try it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008 - 2:00:01 PM - yoey2008 Back To Top (2223)

I have to support several older apps developed in VB4 (16 bit) and VB5 and we are migrating from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. The alias works great with apps developed in VB5 using ODBCDirect and ADO but does not seem to work for apps developed using VB4 (16 bit) using DAO for data access. The new database server is setup as a named instance. Is it the alias or the named instance that is causing the problem? Any ideas on how to get around this?

get free sql tips
agree to terms