Dedicated Administrator Connection (DAC) on SQL Server

This article shows how to allow administrators emergency access to SQL Server via SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) or via command prompt (SQLCMD utility) when SQL Server is not responding to normal connections or we have misplaced a SQL Server Password. Dedicated Administrator Connection (DAC) is a very important part for an administrator that provides a specific type of tool for solving errors and monitoring, it is also used for performance analysis. We can override our previous known login credentials by SQLCMD login with master database.

When all modes of login are disabled, we cannot login to SQL Server. To explore the problem, we tried to connect to SQL Server remotely using SSMS on my different machine and we were not able to cancel the Connect to SQL Server dialog box but we cancelled the SSMS on my machine using the Task Manager and establish the Remote Desktop Session (RDP) to SQL Server machine. Once we successfully established the RDP session, we launched the Task Manager then and noticed the Server CPU and Memory utilization is 100% because of the SQL Server process. After all the normal login attempts to SQL Server failed, we decided to use a Dedicated Administrator Connection (DAC) to SQL Server to investigate and resolve the issue because DAC mode allows an administrator to have emergency access to SQL Server via SSMS or via command prompt (SQLCMD utility).

Now we can connect to DAC via SSMS by clicking the Database Engine Query button. The Connect to Database Engine dialog will pop out. Type the "admin:" prefix before the server name and you'll be connected to DAC. You can see below:

Connect to Database

Now SQL Server is connected with DAC.


We can check that we are connected using Dedicated Administrator Connection, as in the following Query.

Note: If you are connected using DAC then the following query will return 1 row.
  1. USE [master]  
  2. GO  
  3. SELECT * FROM [sys].[dm_exec_connections] ec  
  4. JOIN [sys].[Endpoints] e  
  5. ON ec. [endpoint_id] = e.[endpoint_id]  
  6. WHERE e. [name] = 'Dedicated Admin Connection'  
  7. AND [session_id] = @@spid 


Now we can work with all the databases, identify issues and fix the problems using T-SQL command with DAC.

For example

We can see the following all databases:


Now we will work on the selected database. We can see the following screen. server is not available but we can work on it using DAC.

 selected database

Connect to DAC via command prompt (SQLCMD utility)

Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt

Command Prompt

Now we can get all SQLCMD utility using the following command.

Syntax- SQLCMD / ?


Let start to access database using Sqlmd

There are two ways to access the Default Instance.

1. sqlcmd –A –d master

Now we will use the database for an example.

use database

2. c:\> sqlcmd -A

use [assess Database name]

For example:

For Named Instance use:

sqlcmd -S -U sa -P <xxx> –A
sqlcmd -A -d master -E -S

-For Change Password
-z new_password

Change password

sqlcmd -U someuser -P abcdParab#12 -z new_Pa$$w0rd12
-Z new_password

Change password and exit

sqlcmd -U someuser -P abcdParab#12 -Z new_Pa$$w0rd12

For using SQLCMD DAC you can use the following actions:

  1. Run T-SQL scripts
  2. Run DBCC utility commands
  3. Access Dynamic Management Views (DMVs)
  4. Access catalog views