SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) over VPN

As with most days, today I learned something new. This is a great tip that was passed onto me by one of my clients. Currently, as a contractor, I work for many different companies. Almost always, I have to do some sort of database work involving Microsoft SQL Server over a VPN.

Generally, I am given access to SQL Server using Windows Authentication based on my client’s domain. Until today I always had to log-in into one of their machines using Remote Desktop in order for SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to recognize my identity on the client’s domain.

Logging into remote machines is always a pain: getting/setting permission for remote access to the machine, restricted to a single monitor (RDP doesn’t work well on multiple monitors), Alt-Tab doesn’t work like it should… the little annoyances add up.

But no longer… This simple trick will allow you to use your local instance of SSMS:


  1. Find your SQL Server Management Studio EXE. Usually located somewhere like: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\[version number]\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\Ssms.exe

  2. Create a shortcut to it on the desktop.
  3. Right click and select properties.
  4. Add the following before the Target information: C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /user:yourclientsdomainname\yourusername /netonly

  5. Add -nosplash after Ssms.exe after the Target information
  6. Your Target should look like: C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /user:yourclientsdomainname\yourusername /netonly "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\[version number]\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\Ssms.exe -nosplash"

  7. Click OK to save your changes.
  8. Make sure you are logged into the VPN for the domain your accessing and launch the shortcut.
  9. You will be prompted for a password at a command prompt.
  10. Enter you password and hit enter (use the client’s domain password).
  11. SSMS will launch. Note: Windows authentication might still show as your computers main domain but if you try to connect to a SQL Server instance in your client’s domain you should connect!

The setup is a few steps but once you are up and running it is really simple to start the correct instance.

One Step Further

I love working on the command line, especially since I started using Cmder. So naturally, I turned the shortcut outlined above into a simple batch script that I dropped into Cmder’s bin folder. This gave me access to call it from the command line.

Create a Batch script named remoteSSMS.bat in the Cmder bin folder and copy/paste the same information into the script as you did for the Shorcut Target information above (changing location of ssms.exe and your domain/username):

C:\Windows\System32\runas.exe /user:yourclientsdomainname\yourusername /netonly "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\[version number]\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\Ssms.exe -nosplash"

Now open up Cmder and type remoteSSMS and you will be prompted for a password and SSMS will open!

Hope you find the trick as helpful as I did.


comments powered by Disqus