Connection String Syntax


Each .NET Framework data provider has a Connection object that inherits from DbConnection as well as a provider-specific ConnectionString property. The specific connection string syntax for each provider is documented in its ConnectionString property. The following table lists the four data providers that are included in the .NET Framework.

.NET Framework data providerDescription
System.Data.SqlClientProvides data access for Microsoft SQL Server. For more information on connection string syntax, see ConnectionString.
System.Data.OleDbProvides data access for data sources exposed using OLE DB. For more information on connection string syntax, see ConnectionString.
System.Data.OdbcProvides data access for data sources exposed using ODBC. For more information on connection string syntax, see ConnectionString.
System.Data.OracleClientProvides data access for Oracle version 8.1.7 or later. For more information on connection string syntax, see ConnectionString.

ADO.NET 2.0 introduced the following connection string builders for the .NET Framework data providers.

The connection string builders allow you to construct syntactically valid connection strings at run time, so you do not have to manually concatenate connection string values in your code. For more information, see Connection String Builders.

We recommend using Windows Authentication (sometimes referred to as integrated security) to connect to data sources that support it. The syntax employed in the connection string varies by provider. The following table shows the Windows Authentication syntax used with the .NET Framework data providers.

SqlClientIntegrated Security=true;

 -- or --

 Integrated Security=SSPI;
OleDbIntegrated Security=SSPI;
OracleClientIntegrated Security=yes;
System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

Integrated Security=true throws an exception when used with the OleDb provider.

The syntax for a SqlConnection connection string is documented in the SqlConnection.ConnectionString property. You can use the ConnectionString property to get or set a connection string for a SQL Server database. If you need to connect to an earlier version of SQL Server, you must use the .NET Framework Data Provider for OleDb (System.Data.OleDb). Most connection string keywords also map to properties in the SqlConnectionStringBuilder.

Each of the following forms of syntax will use Windows Authentication to connect to the AdventureWorks database on a local server.

"Persist Security Info=False;Integrated Security=true;  
    Initial Catalog=AdventureWorks;Server=MSSQL1"  
"Persist Security Info=False;Integrated Security=SSPI;  
"Persist Security Info=False;Trusted_Connection=True;  

SQL Server Logins

Windows Authentication is preferred for connecting to SQL Server. However, if SQL Server Authentication is required, use the following syntax to specify a user name and password. In this example, asterisks are used to represent a valid user name and password.

"Persist Security Info=False;User ID=*****;Password=*****;Initial Catalog=AdventureWorks;Server=MySqlServer"  

System_CAPS_ICON_important.jpg Important

The default setting for thePersist``Security Info keyword is false. Setting it to true or yes allows security-sensitive information, including the user ID and password, to be obtained from the connection after the connection has been opened. Keep Persist``Security Info set to false to ensure that an untrusted source does not have access to sensitive connection string information.

To connect to a named instance of SQL Server, use the server name\instance name syntax.

Data Source=MySqlServer\MSSQL1;"  

You can also set the DataSource property of the SqlConnectionStringBuilder to the instance name when building a connection string. The DataSource property of a SqlConnection object is read-only.

System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

Windows authentication takes precedence over SQL Server logins. If you specify both Integrated Security=true as well as a user name and password, the user name and password will be ignored and Windows authentication will be used.

Type System Version Changes

The Type System Version keyword in a SqlConnection.ConnectionString specifies the client-side representation of SQL Server types. See SqlConnection.ConnectionString for more information about the Type System Version keyword.

User instances are a feature in SQL Server Express. They allow a user running on a least-privileged local Windows account to attach and run a SQL Server database without requiring administrative privileges. A user instance executes with the user's Windows credentials, not as a service.

For more information on working with user instances, see SQL Server Express User Instances.

The TrustServerCertificate keyword is valid only when connecting to a SQL Server instance with a valid certificate. When TrustServerCertificate is set to true, the transport layer will use SSL to encrypt the channel and bypass walking the certificate chain to validate trust.


System_CAPS_ICON_note.jpg Note

If TrustServerCertificate is set to true and encryption is turned on, the encryption level specified on the server will be used even if Encrypt is set to false in the connection string. The connection will fail otherwise.

Enabling Encryption

To enable encryption when a certificate has not been provisioned on the server, the Force Protocol Encryption and the Trust Server Certificate options must be set in SQL Server Configuration Manager. In this case, encryption will use a self-signed server certificate without validation if no verifiable certificate has been provisioned on the server.

Application settings cannot reduce the level of security configured in SQL Server, but can optionally strengthen it. An application can request encryption by setting the TrustServerCertificate and Encrypt keywords to true, guaranteeing that encryption takes place even when a server certificate has not been provisioned and Force Protocol Encryption has not been configured for the client. However, if TrustServerCertificate is not enabled in the client configuration, a provisioned server certificate is still required.

The following table describes all cases.

Force Protocol Encryption client settingTrust Server Certificate client settingEncrypt/Use Encryption for Data connection string/attributeTrust Server Certificate connection string/attributeResult
NoN/ANo (default)IgnoredNo encryption occurs.
NoN/AYesNo (default)Encryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
NoN/AYesYesEncryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
YesNoIgnoredIgnoredEncryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
YesYesNo (default)IgnoredEncryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
YesYesYesNo (default)Encryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.
YesYesYesYesEncryption occurs only if there is a verifiable server certificate, otherwise the connection attempt fails.

For more information, see Using Encryption Without Validation in SQL Server Books Online.

The ConnectionString property of a OleDbConnection allows you to get or set a connection string for an OLE DB data source, such as Microsoft Access. You can also create an OleDb connection string at run time by using the OleDbConnectionStringBuilder class.

OleDb Connection String Syntax

You must specify a provider name for an OleDbConnection connection string. The following connection string connects to a Microsoft Access database using the Jet provider. Note that the UserID and Password keywords are optional if the database is unsecured (the default).

Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0; Data Source=d:\Northwind.mdb;User ID=Admin;Password=;   

If the Jet database is secured using user-level security, you must provide the location of the workgroup information file (.mdw). The workgroup information file is used to validate the credentials presented in the connection string.

Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=d:\Northwind.mdb;Jet OLEDB:System Database=d:\NorthwindSystem.mdw;User ID=*****;Password=*****;  

System_CAPS_ICON_important.jpg Important

It is possible to supply connection information for an OleDbConnection in a Universal Data Link (UDL) file; however you should avoid doing so. UDL files are not encrypted, and expose connection string information in clear text. Because a UDL file is an external file-based resource to your application, it cannot be secured using the .NET Framework. UDL files are not supported for SqlClient.

Using DataDirectory to Connect to Access/Jet

DataDirectory is not exclusive to SqlClient. It can also be used with the System.Data.OleDb and System.Data.Odbc .NET data providers. The following sample OleDbConnection string demonstrates the syntax required to connect to the Northwind.mdb located in the application's app_data folder. The system database (System.mdw) is also stored in that location.

Data Source=|DataDirectory|\Northwind.mdb;  
Jet OLEDB:System Database=|DataDirectory|\System.mdw;"  

System_CAPS_ICON_important.jpg Important

Specifying the location of the system database in the connection string is not required if the Access/Jet database is unsecured. Security is off by default, with all users connecting as the built-in Admin user with a blank password. Even when user-level security is correctly implemented, a Jet database remains vulnerable to attack. Therefore, storing sensitive information in an Access/Jet database is not recommended because of the inherent weakness of its file-based security scheme.

Connecting to Excel

The Microsoft Jet provider is used to connect to an Excel workbook. In the following connection string, the Extended Properties keyword sets properties that are specific to Excel. "HDR=Yes;" indicates that the first row contains column names, not data, and "IMEX=1;" tells the driver to always read "intermixed" data columns as text.

Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Data Source=D:\MyExcel.xls;Extended Properties=""Excel 8.0;HDR=Yes;IMEX=1""  

Note that the double quotation character required for the Extended Properties must also be enclosed in double quotation marks.

Data Shape Provider Connection String Syntax

Use both the Provider and the Data Provider keywords when using the Microsoft Data Shape provider. The following example uses the Shape provider to connect to a local instance of SQL Server.

"Provider=MSDataShape;Data Provider=SQLOLEDB;Data Source=(local);Initial Catalog=pubs;Integrated Security=SSPI;"   

The ConnectionString property of a OdbcConnection allows you to get or set a connection string for an OLE DB data source. Odbc connection strings are also supported by the OdbcConnectionStringBuilder.

The following connection string uses the Microsoft Text Driver.

Driver={Microsoft Text Driver (*.txt; *.csv)};DBQ=d:\bin  

Using DataDirectory to Connect to Visual FoxPro

The following OdbcConnection connection string sample demonstrates using DataDirectory to connect to a Microsoft Visual FoxPro file.

"Driver={Microsoft Visual FoxPro Driver};  

The ConnectionString property of a OracleConnection allows you to get or set a connection string for an OLE DB data source. Oracle connection strings are also supported by the OracleConnectionStringBuilder .

Data Source=Oracle9i;User ID=*****;Password=*****;  

For more information on ODBC connection string syntax, see ConnectionString.

Connection Strings
Connecting to a Data Source
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