SQL Server Azure Limitations: A Comprehensive Guide

SQL Server Azure is a database platform that provides you with the tools for easy management, migration, and development of applications.

In the following article, we will understand the limitations of the functions that SQL Server Azure provides you and how to get the most out of them.

So let's begin to understand and learn about all the limitations, benefits, and best practices of SQL Server Azure.

Importance of understanding the limitations of SQL Server Azure

Understanding the limitations of SQL Azure is an important aspect when using these resources, as reaching the limit of resources such as storage, security, scalability, among others, can affect performance, cause errors, and impact the execution of applications within the cloud.

Brief explanation of the MECE framework

For this, it is important to follow a MECE (mutually exclusive (ME) collectively exhaustive (CE)) framework. This framework gathers, classifies, processes, and organizes all existing data of the application, then formulates the problems that may arise and solves them.

1. Memory Limitations

This is an important factor, you must understand the memory limitations of SQL Server Azure in order to ensure the optimization of application resources and obtain excellent performance from them.

Generally, memory is used almost entirely for data storage, which improves performance due to quick reads from memory. 

a. What are these limits? 

Depending on the required service, several limits are presented.

  1. 1

    SQL Database

    The limit for basic and standard levels is 5GB of memory, and for premium level it is 4TB.

  2. 2

    SQL Managed Instance

    The maximum limit of memory offered by this is up to 8TB.

  3. 3

    SQL Server on an Azure virtual machine

    Depending on the selected virtual machine size, you can have from 140GB of RAM to up to 3.8TB of RAM.

Therefore, it is important that you understand the memory limitations of SQL and how reaching the limit of these can affect performance.

b. Discussion of the impact of memory limitations on SQL Server performance

Reaching the memory limit has a significant impact as it affects performance and causes execution delays on the server. Not setting a correct memory limit presents the possibility of data loss or slowing down the server. 

While the system sets a default memory limit, you can change it at any time and adjust it to your needs.

c. Best practices for optimizing memory usage in SQL Server Azure

There are ways to optimize memory usage and avoid reaching its limit. Here are the best practices for doing so.

  • First, you should perform a database evaluation to properly configure the server's memory.

  • Set a minimum and maximum memory limit correctly. It is recommended to leave 1GB for every 4GB of RAM. For example, for every 16GB of RAM, leave 4GB available. However, you should always study and evaluate to establish the correct memory capacity.

  • It is not recommended to set a minimum and maximum memory limit that are too close to each other. This can lead to memory pressure and cause errors on the server.

  • Make sure to always be up to date with the available memory and ensure that there is enough for the server to function properly.

  • Minimize memory usage by making sure that processes do not use more than necessary.

2. Storage Limitations

It is important that you are aware of the storage limits of SQL Server Azure so that you can optimize its usage. The storage limit in the database can affect customer data, company data, transaction files, among others.

a. What are these limits?

  1. 1

    SQL Database

    The storage limit for Basic and Standard tier is 2GB to 1TB, and for Premium tier, it's up to 100TB.

  2. 2

    SQL Managed Instance

    It offers a storage limit of up to 8TB.

  3. 3

    SQL Server on an Azure Virtual Machine

    Depending on the size of the virtual machine you use, you have from 8TB to 64TB of storage.

In addition, storage is used for the operating system, monitoring logs, administration, and other system operation files. The limit for local storage will depend on the required functions, ensuring proper operation.

b. Discussion of the impact of storage limitations on SQL Server performance

Storage limitations can cause errors in the system, lead to data loss, and affect system performance. 

The database of a system is one of the most important things to consider when developing. Ensuring data protection and proper system functioning is crucial, which is why storage limitations have a great impact on SQL Server performance if best practices for optimizing their use are not known.

c. Best practices for optimizing storage usage in SQL Server Azure

To optimize storage usage, which is an important point for the proper functioning of cloud services, you must implement the following tips to get the benefits these tools offer.

  • The first thing you should do is to understand the storage limits to make the most of these services.

  • If the data is in an elastic pool, you can move it out of the pool to avoid sharing storage with other databases.

  • You can reduce unnecessary data in the database to free up more storage space.

  • Plan and organize all data to ensure efficiency and avoid errors when reaching the storage limit.

  • Reduce transaction logging to decrease local storage.

  • Distribute the data across multiple databases and tables to control size issues.

3. Scaling Limitations

SQL Server has great scalability as it has ample space for storing information, so it is important that you understand the problem of scale limitations.

a. What are these limits?

  1. 1

    SQL Database

    The Basic and Standard tiers have a scaling limit of up to 60 DTUs, and for the Premium tier, it's up to 4000 DTUs.

  2. 2

    SQL Managed Instance

    It has a scaling limit of up to 8000 DTUs.

  3. 3

    SQL Server on an Azure Virtual Machine

    For virtual machines, it varies based on the VM size selected and the scaling chosen.

These limitations will affect you when handling large amounts of data or users within the platform or those who want to access it, which leads to errors and affects system performance. This system is responsible for managing the workload capacity of the system.

b. Discussion of the impact of scaling limitations on SQL Server performance

Reaching scale limitations has an impact on system performance as it is responsible for loading application data, and reaching its limit decreases SQL Server performance. 

To maintain a stable system, it is important to ensure proper data loading and sufficient storage capacity to avoid performance and functionality issues with SQL Server.

c. Best practices for optimizing scaling in SQL Server Azure

By following the practices I’m going to tell you, you can optimize the use of this service.

  • Design the database with the correct data and appropriate data size to avoid occupying more space than necessary and slowing down the server's performance.

  • Examine the data resources used and evaluate which ones you can improve and expand with Azure SQL Server techniques.

  • Identify which indexes are needed to improve database performance, which will improve scalability and server functionality.

  • Use query optimization and suggestions offered by Azure SQL Database to reduce application execution costs and enable it to run with a smaller process size.

  • Make sure you are using a network with sufficient bandwidth to support the system.

You have the resources to avoid server congestion of your application data, put them into practice and study them to ensure a good result when scaling in SQL Server Azure.

4. Backup and Recovery Limitations

This is a fundamental part of data management, backup and data recovery of a system are the cornerstone of it all, and it's very easy to reach the limit of these due to the large amount of data and the slowness of their restoration.

a. What are these limits?

  1. 1

    SQL Database

    Backups are taken every 5-10 minutes and are saved for up to 35 days, although you can also schedule them manually.

  2. 2

    SQL Managed Instance

    Backups are taken according to the option you choose, but every 5-10 minutes backups are taken and kept for 7 to 35 days.

  3. 3

    SQL Server on an Azure virtual machine

    For virtual machines, backups and restores are established on the storage disk. When setting the limit, you just need to optimize resources and be aware of not reaching the limit.

Data restoration is essential to ensure the backup of important system data in case of errors and data loss. It's important to understand their limitations, as slow data recovery affects system availability and reduces customer confidence.

b. Discussion of the impact of backup and recovery limitations on SQL Server availability and reliability

This is paramount, failure in any backup leads to errors and affects the database with the possibility of data loss, which causes the platform to not provide services correctly to clients.

Not only do you risk data loss, but also with the delay in data restoration, a delay in the platform can be caused, affecting users' access to the platform. This affects the availability and trust of customers in it.

c.Best practices for optimizing backup and recovery in SQL Server Azure

Make sure to follow these practices to optimize these resources and successfully perform system data backup correctly, reducing the chances of reaching the limit.

  • Segment data into smaller backup sets to speed up data restoration and decrease backup time.

  • The bandwidth limit can affect the restoration of large data, so you can optimize the network bandwidth to increase capacity.

  • Automate system data backups and backups so that it backs up information automatically, and you don't have to spend time doing it manually.

  • Perform backup tests to ensure that backups and copies are being performed correctly, and data is being stored effectively.

I assure you that these recommended practices will help and guide you when studying how to optimize backup and recovery limits.

5. Security and Compliance Limitations

Data protection and compliance with regulations is an important aspect to consider and understand. Many problems can arise when restoring data due to file incompatibility with the platform, which can cause errors or loss of files. 

a. What are these limits?

  1. 1

    Access to the network

    By limiting network access, you restrict the client's access to the necessary resources for the proper use and functioning of the platform.

  2. 2

    Access control

    Authorized personnel accessing resources must have the assurance that security policies and controls are in place to ensure their privacy and that of all their data.

  3. 3

    Security monitoring

    Resources for implementing security measures and detecting existing threats must be monitored to control and ensure the proper privacy of customer data.

It is important to have trained and experienced personnel in security and compliance measures who are always aware of potential issues and can immediately resolve them to ensure proper system functioning.

b. Discussion of the impact of security and compliance limitations on SQL Server data protection and regulatory compliance

Data protection, system performance, authentication, and other aspects can be compromised if SQL Server security and compliance with regulations are not managed correctly. 

When security policies are compromised, there is a risk of data loss or theft. Therefore, when configuring applications, it is essential to implement the correct security measures to avoid these risks. 

Proper security and compliance with regulations provide users with confidence and stability when using applications.

c. Best practices for optimizing security and compliance in SQL Server Azure

Security and compliance with regulations are key to the proper functioning of the system regarding database protection, and the best practices to optimize security and compliance are as follows: 

  • Increase security measures such as encryption and authentication to prevent security breaches. 

  • Hire qualified and experienced personnel to detect security or compliance issues and address them promptly. 

  • Perform security audits to ensure that everything is in order, the database is protected, and functioning correctly. 

  • Implement deep security measures to make it more difficult to penetrate the database and prevent theft or corruption.


SQL Server Azure offers many functions, such as storage, scalability, security, and database recovery, although it has its limitations, you can obtain significant benefits if you follow best practices to optimize these resources. 

Additionally, you will ensure the proper functioning of the system, providing clients with confidence and security in SQL Server Azure.

About the author


Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of ITCertificate.org

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