Tutorial: Prepare SQL Server for replication (publisher, distributor, subscriber)

APPLIES TO: yesSQL Server noAzure SQL Database noAzure SQL Data Warehouse noParallel Data Warehouse

It's important to plan for security before you configure your replication topology. This tutorial shows you how to better secure a replication topology. It also shows you how to configure distribution, which is the first step in replicating data. You must complete this tutorial before any of the others.

Note

To replicate data securely between servers, you should implement all of the recommendations in Replication security best practices.

What you will learn

This tutorial teaches you to prepare a server so that replication can run securely with least privileges.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

  • Create Windows accounts for replication.
  • Prepare the snapshot folder.
  • Configure distribution.

Prerequisites

This tutorial is for users who are familiar with fundamental database operations, but who have limited exposure to replication.

To complete this tutorial, you need SQL Server, SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS), and an AdventureWorks database:

  • At the publisher server (source), install:

    • Any edition of SQL Server, except SQL Server Express or SQL Server Compact. These editions cannot be replication publishers.
    • The AdventureWorks2012 sample database. To enhance security, the sample databases are not installed by default.
  • At the subscriber server (destination), install any edition of SQL Server, except SQL Server Compact. SQL Server Compact cannot be a subscriber in transactional replication.

  • Install SQL Server Management Studio.

  • Install SQL Server 2017 Developer edition.
  • Download the AdventureWorks sample database. For instructions on restoring a database in SSMS, see Restoring a database.

Note

  • Replication is not supported on SQL Server instances that are more than two versions apart. For more information, see Supported SQL Server Versions in Replication Topology.
  • In SQL Server Management Studio, you must connect to the publisher and subscriber by using a login that is a member of the sysadmin fixed server role. For more information on this role, see Server-level roles.

Estimated time to complete this tutorial: 30 minutes

Create Windows accounts for replication

In this section, you create Windows accounts to run replication agents. You create a separate Windows account on the local server for the following agents:

Agent Location Account name
Snapshot Agent Publisher <machine_name>\repl_snapshot
Log Reader Agent Publisher <machine_name>\repl_logreader
Distribution Agent Publisher and subscriber <machine_name>\repl_distribution
Merge Agent Publisher and subscriber <machine_name>\repl_merge

Note

In the replication tutorials, the publisher and distributor share the same instance (NODE1\SQL2016) of SQL Server. The subscriber instance (NODE2\SQL2016) is remote. The publisher and subscriber might share the same instance of SQL Server, but it is not a requirement. If the publisher and subscriber share the same instance, the steps that are used to create accounts at the subscriber are not required.

Create local Windows accounts for replication agents at the publisher

  1. At the publisher, open Computer Management from Administrative Tools in Control Panel.

  2. In System Tools, expand Local Users and Groups.

  3. Right-click Users and then select New User.

  4. Enter repl_snapshot in the User name box, provide the password and other relevant information, and then select Create to create the repl_snapshot account:

    "New User" dialog box

  5. Repeat the previous step to create the repl_logreader, repl_distribution, and repl_merge accounts:

    List of replication users

  6. Select Close.

Create local Windows accounts for replication agents at the subscriber

  1. At the subscriber, open Computer Management from Administrative Tools in Control Panel.

  2. In System Tools, expand Local Users and Groups.

  3. Right-click Users and then select New User.

  4. Enter repl_distribution in the User name box, provide the password and other relevant information, and then select Create to create the repl_distribution account.

  5. Repeat the previous step to create the repl_merge account.

  6. Select Close.

For more information, see Replication agents overview.

Prepare the snapshot folder

In this section, you configure the snapshot folder that's used to create and store the publication snapshot.

Create a share for the snapshot folder and assign permissions

  1. In File Explorer, browse to the SQL Server data folder. The default location is C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL.X\MSSQL\Data.

  2. Create a new folder named repldata.

  3. Right-click this folder and select Properties.

    a. On the Sharing tab in the repldata Properties dialog box, select Advanced Sharing.

    b. In the Advanced Sharing dialog box, select Share this Folder, and then select Permissions.

    Selections for sharing the repldata folder

  4. In the Permissions for repldata dialog box, select Add. In the Select User, Computers, Service Account, or Groups box, type the name of the Snapshot Agent account that you created previously, as <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_snapshot. Select Check Names, and then select OK.

    Selections to add sharing permissions

  5. Repeat step 6 to add the other two accounts that you created previously: <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_merge and <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_distribution.

  6. After you add the three accounts, assign the following permissions:

    • repl_distribution: Read
    • repl_merge: Read
    • repl_snapshot: Full Control

    Shared permissions for each account

  7. After your share permissions are configured correctly, select OK to close the Permissions for repldata dialog box. Select OK to close the Advanced Sharing dialog box.

  8. In the repldata Properties dialog box, select the Security tab and select Edit:

    "Edit" button on the "Security" tab

  9. In the Permissions for repldata dialog box, select Add. In the Select Users, Computers, Service Accounts, or Groups box, type the name of the Snapshot Agent account that you created previously, as <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_snapshot. Select Check Names, and then select OK.

    Selections to add security permissions

  10. Repeat the previous step to add permissions for the Distribution Agent as <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_distribution, and for the Merge Agent as <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_merge.

  11. Verify that the following permissions are allowed:

    • repl_distribution: Read
    • repl_merge: Read
    • repl_snapshot: Full Control

    User permissions for replication data

  12. Select the Sharing tab again and note the Network Path for the share. You'll need this path later when you're configuring your snapshot folder.

    Network path on the "Sharing" tab

  13. Select OK to close the repldata Properties dialog box.

For more information, see Secure the snapshot folder.

Configure distribution

In this section, you configure distribution at the publisher and set the required permissions on the publication and distribution databases. If you have already configured the distributor, you must disable publishing and distribution before you begin this section. Do not do this if you must keep an existing replication topology, especially in production.

Configuring a publisher with a remote distributor is outside the scope of this tutorial.

Configure distribution at the publisher

  1. Connect to the publisher in SQL Server Management Studio, and then expand the server node.

  2. Right-click the Replication folder and select Configure Distribution:

    "Configure Distribution" command on the shortcut menu

    Note

    If you have connected to SQL Server by using localhost rather than the actual server name, you'll be prompted with a warning that SQL Server cannot connect to localhost. Select OK in the warning dialog box. In the Connect to Server dialog box, change Server name from localhost to the name of your server. Then select Connect.

    The Distribution Configuration Wizard starts.

  3. On the Distributor page, select <'ServerName'> will act as its own Distributor; SQL Server will create a distribution database and log. Then select Next.

    Option to make the server act as its own distributor

  4. If the SQL Server Agent is not running, on the SQL Server Agent Start page, select Yes, configure the SQL Server Agent service to start automatically. Select Next.

  5. Enter the path \\<Publisher_Machine_Name>\repldata in the Snapshot folder box, and then select Next. This path should match what you saw previously under Network Path for your repldata properties folder after configuring your share properties.

    Comparison of network paths in the "repldata Properties" dialog box and in the Configure Distribution Wizard

  6. Accept the default values on the remaining pages of the wizard.

    Last page of the wizard

  7. Select Finish to enable distribution.

You might see the following error when configuring the distributor. It's an indication that the account that was used to start the SQL Server Agent account is not an administrator on the system. You'll either need to start the SQL Server Agent manually, grant those permissions to the existing account, or modify which account the SQL Server Agent is using.

Error message for configuring the SQL Server Agent

If your SQL Server Management Studio instance is running with administrative rights, you can start the SQL Agent manually from within SSMS:

Selecting "Start" on the shortcut menu for the agent in SSMS

Note

If the SQL Agent doesn't visibly start, right-click the SQL Server Agent in SSMS and select Refresh. If it's still in the stopped state, start it manually from SQL Server Configuration Manager.

Set database permissions at the publisher

  1. In SQL Server Management Studio, expand Security, right-click Logins, and then select New Login:

    "New Login" command on the shortcut menu

  2. On the General page, select Search. Enter <Publisher_Machine_Name>\repl_snapshot in the Enter the object name to select box, select Check Names, and then select OK.

    Selections for entering the object name

  3. On the User Mapping page, in the Users mapped to this login list, select both the distribution and AdventureWorks2012 databases.

    In the database role membership list, select the db_owner role for the login for both databases.

    Selecting the databases and their role

  4. Select OK to create the login.

  5. Repeat steps 1-4 to create a login for the other local accounts (repl_distribution, repl_logreader, and repl_merge). These logins must also be mapped to users who are members of the db_owner fixed database role in the distribution and AdventureWorks databases.

    View of all four accounts in Object Explorer

For more information, see:

Next steps

You have now successfully prepared your server for replication. The next article teaches you how to configure transactional replication: