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Connecting to Data with Server Explorer/Database Explorer

Server Explorer/Database Explorer is the server management console for Visual Studio. Use this window to open data connections and to log on to servers and explore their system services.

Use Server Explorer/Database Explorer to view and retrieve information from all of the databases you are connected to. You can do the following:

  • List database tables, views, stored procedures, and functions

  • Expand individual tables to list their columns and triggers

  • Right-click a table to perform actions, such as showing the table's data or viewing the table's definition, from its shortcut menu.


In the Visual Studio Express products, this window is named Database Explorer. In all other Visual Studio products, this window is named Server Explorer.

To access Server Explorer/Database Explorer, choose Server Explorer or Database Explorer on the View menu. To make the Server Explorer/Database Explorer window close automatically when not in use, choose Auto Hide on the Window menu.

  • Connections to various types of databases are listed under the Data Connections node. You can explore databases of other types than SQL server, and running on platforms other than Windows. For example, you can create a data connection to an Oracle database running on a UNIX or a Microsoft Windows system.

The following topics provide guidance on using Server Explorer/Database Explorer to create and manage data links and database connections.

Data Connections in Server Explorer/Database Explorer

Directs you to useful pages about the data and service providers available to projects.

How to: Add New Data Connections in Server Explorer/Database Explorer

Explains how to create connections to different data sources.

User Credentials and Access to Data Sources in Server Explorer/Database Explorer

Explains how the level of access a user has to a server and its databases determines what kinds of information the user can retrieve and manipulate.

Add/Modify Connection Dialog Box (General)

Use this dialog box to create and edit database connections in Server Explorer/Database Explorer.

Server Explorer/Database Explorer

Use this dialog box to display a server link in Server Explorer/Database Explorer.

Creating Client Data Applications

Provides links to pages about working with data in client applications using Visual Studio.


Describes the ADO.NET classes, which expose data-access services to the .NET programmer.

Working with Data in Managed Device Projects

Describes how to manage data for devices in Visual Studio.

Data in Office Solutions

Contains links to topics that explain how data works in Office solutions, including information about schema-oriented programming, data caching, and server-side data access.