SQL Data Sync - Best Practices

SQL Data Sync - Best Practices

SQL Azure Data Sync Logo

This article is for anyone who is planning to use SQL Data Sync, especially those who are in the planning and design phase. Topics covered include selecting a location for your SQL Database, ensuring that when you create your SQL Database it is large enough to work with your data and SQL Data Sync, selecting which tables to include in a particular synchronization group, and more.

SQL Data Sync service enables bi-directional synchronization of data between two or more geographically distributed SQL Database and SQL Server databases.
The SQL Databases may exist in any of the Windows Azure data centers around the world.
The SQL Server databases may also be geographically distributed.
You must have at least one SQL Database that SQL Data Sync uses as the hub for synchronizations.

This wiki topic may be obsolete.
This wiki topic is no longer updated by Microsoft. We moved the content to the MSDN Library where we keep it current.
To find the latest version of this topic on MSDN click here.

Where to Locate Your SQL Databases

Where you locate your SQL Databases can impact both efficiency and cost of your synchronizations, even if you have only one SQL Database. The following issues can impact how efficiently your synchronizations work.
    • Latency
      The proximity of the data center hosting your SQL Database "hub" database to your "member" databases impacts latency. In order to minimize latency it is a good idea to locate your SQL Databases in data centers as close to your SQL Server databases as possible.
    • Costs
      Moving data into and out of data centers may result in ingress and egress charges that you need to take into consideration.

Database Considerations and Constraints

  • SQL Database Size
    When you create a new SQL Database (https://sql.azure.com/) (Figure 1 #1) set the maximum size (Figure 2) so that it is always larger than the database you deploy. If you don't set the maximum size larger than your deployed database synchronization fails. There currently is no automatic growth in SQL Database, so if you set a maximum size that is less than the database's actual you must drop the existing SQL Database, create a new SQL Database with an adequate size, and then re-set up the Sync Group and sync.
     Important: SQL Data Sync stores additional metadata with your database. Be sure to account for this when you calculate space needed.


    Figure 1 - Create a SQL Database

    Figure 2 - Set Maximum database size - 1 GB (default) or 5 GB
  • Supported limits on database dimensions
    Dimension Limit
    Database size 20 GB
    Number of rows 5 million
    Database, table, schema, and column names 50 characters
    Tables in a sync group 100
    Columns in a table in a sync group 1000


Table Considerations and Constraints

  • Selecting Tables
    Not all tables in a database are required to be in a Sync Group. The selection of which tables to include in a Sync Group and which to exclude (or include in a different Sync Group) can impact efficiency and costs. Include only those tables in a Sync Group that business needs demand and the tables upon which they are dependent.
     Note: The only time you can add or remove tables in a Sync Group is when you create the Sync Group. Once the sync group is deployed you cannot make changes in the synchronization data set. To change the synchronization dataset you must remove then recreate the sync group.


  • Primary and Foreign Keys
    Each table in a Sync Group must have a Primary Key. The SQL Data Sync service is unable to synchronize any table that does not have a Primary Key.

Synchronization Schedule Considerations

  • Costs
    Even though SQL Data Sync service is currently offered without charge, SQL Database charges are applied to the data that is moved to and from SQL Database data centers.
        Therefore, you should synchronize tables that are stable or possess data that doesn't need to be refreshed frequently on a daily or weekly schedule.
        Tables that contain time sensitive data or data that is more volatile are better synchronized on a more frequent schedule.
        Analyze your business needs and create your Sync Group and schedules appropriately.

    As data passes into and out of a data center there may also be ingress and egress charges.

  • Frequency
    If you attempt to synchronize a Sync Group that has not completed a synchronization the attempt will fail. Therefore, it is good practice to schedule synchronizations so that each synchronization has time to complete prior to attempting another synchronization.

    For example:
    If you schedule your sync group to sync every five minutes, T0, T0+5, T0+10 ..., but it takes the group six minutes to complete a synchronization then your synchronizations take place at T0, T0+10, T0+20 and so on. T0+5 and T0+15 fail because synchronizations T0 and T0+10 haven't completed.


Sync Provision the Target Database

SQL Data Sync provisioning only partially creates the destination database objects. It creates tables but not other database objects, such as stored procedures, triggers, and constraints. Therefore it is a best practice to provision the destination database yourself with your non-data objects before you run your first synchronization.

 Important: The wizard used here is only available in SQL Server 2008 R2.


 Important: When you provision your database do not populate it with data. If you populate it with data then the first time you synchronize every row will create a collision that must be resolved. This greatly slows down your first synchronization.


First Steps

Before you are ready to provision your target database be sure that you have completed steps 1 through 4 of the SQL Data Sync How to Get Started article.
  1. Get a Windows Live ID.
  2. Create a Windows Azure Account.
  3. Create a SQL Database Server.

Ensure the Source Database is Compatible with SQL Data Sync

Before you provision your target database it is a best practice to add the source database to the Agent. This will reveal whether there are any incompatibilities such as missing primary keys or unsupported data types. For information on creating an Agent and adding a database to it see Create an Agent.

There are three steps to provisioning your target database.

  1. Create an Empty Target Database.
  2. Create a script that replicates the source database schema.
  3. Run the script against the target database.  

Create an Empty Target Database

In this step we create our target database that we want to provision.
  1. Start SQL Server Management Studio.
  2. Connect to the server that will host the target database.
  3. Click New Query.
  4. In the query window type and run the following script.
    CREATE DATABASE <databaseName>

Create a Script that Replicates the Source Database Schema

The easiest and safest way to create the script is with SQL Serer Management Studio.

Start the Script Wizard

  1. Connect to the server that hosts the source database.
  2. Right-click on the name of the source database.
  3. Select Tasks | Generate Scripts....
  4. Click Next.

    Figure 1 - Introduction Screen

Select the Database Objects to Script

  1. Click the “Script entire database and all database objects” radio button. (Figure 2 #1)
  2. Click Next.

    Figure 2 - Choose Objects

Specify how scripts should be saved or published

  1. On the "Set Scripting Options" page, keep all the defaults (you can change the file name/path if you want) Figure 3 #1)
  2. Click the Advanced button. (Figure 3 #2)

    Figure 3 - Set Scripting Options

Specify how scripts should be saved or published: Advanced

On the "Advanced" screen there are two setting tht are critical - Script for the database engine type and Types of data to script. (Figures 4 and 5)
  1. Make sure Script for the database engine type is changed to SQL Database if the database you are provisioning is a SQL Database.
    If the database you are provisioning is a SQL Server database you can keep this at its default value.
  2. Make sure the Types of data to script is set to Schema only.
    If you script the data as well when SQL Data Sync syncs the first time an error will be generated for each row in your database.

    Figure 4 - Script for Database engine type             Figure 5 - Types of data to script

  3. Click OK.

Review your selections

  1. On the Summary page confirm that all selections are correct. (Figure 6)
  2. Click Next.
    The Wizard immediately begins to generate the script.

    Figure 6 - Summary Page

Save or Publish Scripts

  • If there are errors
    1. Click Save Report (Figure 7 #1)
    2. Read the report to find out what they are.
    3. Go back and fix them then repeat this process.
  • If there are no errors, then on the Save or Publish Scripts page click Finish. (Figure 7 #2)

    Figure 7 - Save or Publish Scripts

Run the Script Against the Target Database

    • In SQL Server Management Studio Object Explorer, click on the target database.
    • Click New Query.
    • Copy/Paste the script created above into the query window.
    • Run the script.
You are now ready to create your Sync Group and execute your first synchronization which will create and populate the tables in the target database.



This release was provided in order to gather feedback from our customers. Now that you have previewed what the SQL Data Sync team is doing, please let us know what you think of our direction, and tell us about your experiences.
You can send us your thoughts in any of the following ways:


For More Information


Leave a Comment
  • Please add 4 and 6 and type the answer here:
  • Post
Wiki - Revision Comment List(Revision Comment)
  • patmas57 edited Revision 29. Comment: Branding update

Page 1 of 1 (1 items)
Wikis - Comment List
Posting comments is temporarily disabled until 10:00am PST on Saturday, December 14th. Thank you for your patience.
  • patmas57 edited Revision 29. Comment: Branding update

Page 1 of 1 (1 items)