Data Migration Assistant: How to assess your on-premises SQL Server instance

The following step-by-step instructions will help you to perform your first assessment migrating to either on-premises SQL Server or SQL Server running on Azure VM or Azure SQL Server database using DMA.

Create new assessment

  1. Click on the New(+) icon and select “Assessment” project type. Set the source and target server type to SQL Server if you intend to upgrade your on-premises SQL Server to a modern on-premises SQL Server or SQL Server hosted on Azure VM.  Set the target server type to "Azure SQL Database" if you are migrating to Azure SQL Database.
  2. Click Create.1

Choose assessment options

  1. Select the target SQL Server version that you plan to migrate to, and need to run assessment.
  2. You can choose one or both from the following assessment report types, when you are assessing your source SQL Server migrating to on-premises SQL Server or SQL Server hosted on Azure VM targets.
    1. Compatibility Issues
    2. New features’ recommendation


  3. You can choose one or both from the following assessment report types, when you are assessing your source SQL Server migrating to Azure SQL Database(s).


Add databases to assess

  1. Click on "Add Sources" to open the connection fly-out.
  2. Enter SQL server instance name, choose Authentication type and set the correct connection properties.
  3. Click "Connect".
  4. Select the databases to assess and click "Add".
  5. You can remove databases after you add them.  Select multiple databases holding "shift" or "Ctrl" key, and click "Remove Sources".
  6. You can add databases from multiple SQL Server instances using the "Add Sources" button.
  7. Click Next to start assessment.


View results

  1. Assessment duration depends on the number of databases added and the schema size of each database.
  2. Results will be displayed per database as soon as they are available.
  3. Select the database that has completed assessment. Switch between "Compatibility issues" and "Feature recommendations" using the switcher.
  4. Review the compatibility issues across all compatibility levels supported by the target SQL Server version selected on the "Options" screen.
    Compatibility Issues can be reviewed by analyzing the impacted object and its details for every issue identified under “Breaking changes”, “Behavior changes” and “Deprecated features”View_Results
  5. Similarly, you can review features’ recommendation across “Performance”, “Storage” and “Security” areas
    Feature recommendations cover a variety of features such as In-Memory OLTP and Columnstore, Stretch Database, Always Encrypted (AE), Dynamic Data Masking (DDM), and Transparent Data Encryption (TDE).Feature_Results
  6. Assessments for "Azure SQL Database" provides, migration blocking issues and feature parity issues.  Review the results for both categories by selecting the specific options.
  7. The "SQL Server feature parity" category provides, currently in use at the source SQL Server. It then provides comprehensive set of recommendations, alternative approaches available in Azure and mitigating steps so that customers can plan ahead this effort into their migration projects.

feature-parity8. The "Compatibility issues" category,  provides, partially or unsupported features that are the compatibility issues that block migrating on-premises SQL Server database(s)s to Azure SQL Database(s). It then provides recommendations to help customers remediate those issues.


Export results

Once all databases finish assessment, click on "Export report" to export the results to either JSON or CSV file for analyzing the data at your own convenience.

  1. You can run multiple assessments concurrently and view the state of the assessments from by navigating to the “All Assessments” screen.
Comments (18)

  1. Sylvia Chung says:

    I finished assessment for upgrading from SQL 2012 to SQL 2016 and would like to save assessment result in a file but “export report” button saved just current screen as picture format in a csv file and I cannot navigate through all result information from the file and cannot reuse it.
    Please let me know how to save the result.

    1. Hello Sylvia,
      The “Export report” button should let you save the assessment results in a CSV format, not the in the bitmap format. You can open the CSV file with the excel and apply filters to navigate to the specific issues.
      Please feel free to reach out to us at for further assistance.

  2. Dan Lampkin says:

    what about running it on a trace file? how else would we check code embedded in apps and other tiers?

    1. At this point, DMA doesn’t support assessment against the SQL server trace files, enabling this feature is in our backlog, I do not have any ETA at this point.

  3. Neil says:

    How long should an “average” assessment take?

    1. The assessment duration mainly depends on the size of the schema, the total number of objects exists in the schema. We have seen a database having 16,000 total objects taking around, 20 minutes. On the higher end, a database with 150,000 objects little more than 60 minutes.

  4. Larry Chesnut says:

    When is the ability to assess compatibility with Azure SQL DB and SQL DW expected to be introduced?

    1. hello Larry,
      Support for assessments in DMA for Azure SQL Databases is currently in preview. We expect to release this capability for GA this week. Will keep you posted as soon as we release.

  5. Brad says:

    I am trying to run an assessment on our SQL 2008 R2 cluster, but on my VM running the tool it keeps telling me the standard a network-relation or instance specific error occurred while establishing a connection to SQL server. I verified the account connecting has the appropriate permissions to our cluster. We use a non standard port to connect to SQL, for the server name should I not be entering hostname,Port# ?

    1. hello,
      Please use the format “SQL virtual instance name,port number” when SQL Server is running on a non-default port. You also need to make sure to open the port in the firewall. I would first test if I can able to connect using Management Studio from the DMA machine.
      If you still see failures, you may be running into connection timeouts. Try increasing the connection timeout as outlined in the configuration settings blog,
      Please free to contact us back through email at,, we can help you from there.

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  7. Ju Bilker says:

    I tested to assess SQL Server 2014 which has no client data, end user databases other than system. First time, I choose Compatibility and new features, over a night the process was not finish, no report generated.

    The 2nd time, I tested on different server. each of target only few MBs, but it took few hours, but no results. Please advise what the normally duration.



    Hey, What is exactly compatibility levels (130,120,110,100) mean ? Please I am confused and what is the difference between all these ?

    1. Harini Gupta says:

      Compat levels represents the SQL Server versions. SQL Server 2016 is 130 compat; SQL Server 2014 is 120 compat; so forth…
      You can read this:

  9. Jill says:

    I’m trying to run the DMA on a 2012 database for upgrade to 2016. But I get this error, and could use some help trying to figure out what it means: The assessment of database ‘xxxx’ on server ‘xxxxx’ failed. Advisor content with ID ‘xxxxx’ is not defined or is not of OptimizationContentInstance type.
    Thank you

  10. shair says:

    It sure would be nice to be able to print this article.

  11. vjsekars says:

    In Data Migration Assistant v4.1, i see csv or Json object only which is not readable. Earlier there was a HTML option which was readable. Any option to make it readable so it can shared across. Looking for 2008r2 to 2016 upgrade.

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