Which Type of Storage Should Be Used in Conjunction With Azure VMS for SQL Server Data Files?


Angela Bailey

Which Type of Storage Should Be Used in Conjunction With Azure VMS for SQL Server Data Files?

When it comes to storing SQL Server data files in Azure Virtual Machines (VMs), choosing the right type of storage is crucial for achieving optimal performance and efficiency. In this article, we will explore the different storage options available in Azure and discuss which one is best suited for hosting SQL Server data files.

Types of Storage in Azure

Azure offers several types of storage solutions, each with its own unique characteristics and use cases. Let’s take a look at the most common ones:

1. Azure Blob Storage

Azure Blob Storage is a highly scalable object storage service that allows you to store large amounts of unstructured data, such as images, videos, and documents. While it can be used for storing SQL Server backups or BLOB data, it is not recommended for hosting SQL Server data files due to its inherent limitations in terms of performance and transactional support.

2. Azure Files

Azure Files provides fully managed file shares that can be accessed over the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol. It offers a simple way to share files across VMs and supports both Windows and Linux environments. However, similar to Blob Storage, Azure Files may not provide the necessary performance levels required by SQL Server data files.

3. Azure Premium SSD

If you are looking for high-performance storage specifically designed for databases like SQL Server, then Azure Premium SSD should be your go-to option. It leverages solid-state drives (SSDs) to deliver low latency and high IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) rates, making it ideal for hosting SQL Server data files.

  • Advantages of Azure Premium SSD:
    • Performance: With Azure Premium SSD, you can achieve low latency and high IOPS rates, ensuring excellent performance for your SQL Server workloads.
    • Durability: Azure Premium SSD provides durability guarantees for your data, with built-in redundancy and replication mechanisms.
    • Scalability: You can easily scale up or down your storage capacity as per your requirements without any downtime.

4. Azure Ultra Disk

Azure Ultra Disk is another high-performance storage offering that provides even higher IOPS and throughput compared to Azure Premium SSD. It is designed to handle the most demanding workloads, including large-scale databases and analytics applications. However, it is worth noting that Azure Ultra Disk comes with a higher cost compared to other storage options.

Best Practices for SQL Server Data Files in Azure VMs

No matter which type of storage you choose, there are certain best practices you should follow when hosting SQL Server data files in Azure VMs:

  • Separate Data and Log Files:
  • In order to optimize performance and manageability, it is recommended to store SQL Server data files and log files on separate drives or storage accounts.

  • Use Managed Disks:
  • Azure Managed Disks provide a managed disk service that simplifies disk management for VMs. They offer features like automatic backups, snapshots, and scaling capabilities.

  • Enable Storage Cache:
  • Azure VMs allow you to enable the read cache on the data disks, which can improve read-heavy workloads by caching frequently accessed data.

  • Monitor and Optimize:
  • Regularly monitor your SQL Server performance and storage usage to identify any bottlenecks or areas for optimization. Azure provides various monitoring and diagnostic tools to help you with this task.


Choosing the right type of storage for SQL Server data files in Azure VMs is essential for achieving optimal performance and scalability. While Azure Blob Storage and Azure Files have their use cases, they may not provide the required performance levels for hosting SQL Server data files.

Azure Premium SSD and Azure Ultra Disk are the recommended options when it comes to high-performance storage for SQL Server workloads. However, you should carefully consider your specific requirements, workload characteristics, and budget before making a decision.

By following best practices like separating data and log files, using managed disks, enabling storage cache, and monitoring performance, you can ensure that your SQL Server deployment in Azure VMs is efficient and reliable.

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