Configuration Manager or Surface Area Configuration Tool

SQL Server 2005 has SQL Server Configuration Manager and SQL Server Surface Area Configuration tool. Both tools let you control properties of SQL Server services, and I understand that tasks that you can perform with each tool overlap. How should I decide which tool to use and why?

I saw this question in a recent thread in the SQL Server Most Valuable Professional (MVP) newsgroups and thought that many SQL Server professionals might be pondering the same question. SQL Server Configuration Manager is a tool designed to help you configure or manage SQL Server 2005 services, network protocols, and network connectivity for SQL Server client workstations. SQL Server Surface Area Configuration tool lets you enable, disable, start, and stop SQL Server 2005 services, features, and workstation connectivity.

The tools have several overlapping functions. For example, you can use either tool to change the automatic startup settings for SQL Server service. But, if you want to enable SQL Server CLR (SQLCLR) support, you must use Surface Area Configuration tool; the SQLCLR isn't supported by Configuration Manager.

I won't attempt to list all of the overlapping properties that you can edit with both tools. However, the general consensus from the MVPs is that you should use the Surface Area Configuration tool to manage security-related tasks and the Configuration Manager to configure SQL Server 2005. If both tools support the feature or service that you're trying to configure or manage the result will be the same no matter which tool you use.

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