Connecting to Microsoft SQL Server

Connecting to Microsoft SQL Server

If you have a paid PythonAnywhere plan, and you have a Microsoft SQL Server database elsewhere on the Internet that you want to connect to (we don't host SQL Server ourselves) then you have two options in terms of Python packages to use.


This is the easiest option. Just connect to it like this:

host = "123.456.789.012"
username = "yourusername"
password = "yourpassword"
database = "yourdatabasename"

conn = pymssql.connect(host, username, password, database)
cursor = conn.cursor()

...changing the host, username, password and database variables appropriately, of course.

One thing to look out for -- if your SQL Server instance is on Azure, then your username is "username@databasename". For example, if your database is and your username is jim,then the username you should use in the pymssql.connect would be jim@mydatabase. See this help page for more information.

If you have problems connecting to your database, there's a great troubleshooting guide on the pymssql site. One particularly useful trick is to set the TDSDUMP environment variable, which makes the system print out loads of debugging data. Check out the link above for details.


This is much trickier to set up, so if you can use pymssql then we definitely recommend that option. But if you have a bunch of scripts that already use pyodbc and need them to work on PythonAnywhere, it is possible.

The aim is to create a ODBC Data Source Name (DSN) called sqlserverdatasource that your pyodbc code will be able to use to connect to the database. To do this:

  1. Create a new file inside your home directory, called odbcinst.ini, and containing the following:

    Description = TDS driver (Sybase/MS SQL)
    Driver = /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/odbc/
    Setup = /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/odbc/
    CPTimeout =
    CPReuse =
    FileUsage = 1
  2. create another file in your home directory called .freetds.conf (note the "." at the start), and in it put the following:

        port = YOUR_SQL_SERVER_PORT
        tds version = 7.0

    ...changing the YOUR_SQL_SERVER_IP_ADDRESS and YOUR_SQL_SERVER_PORT appropriately, of course.

  3. Create yet another file in your home directory, called odbc.ini, and put this in it:

    Driver = FreeTDS
    Description = ODBC connection via FreeTDS
    Trace = No
    Servername = sqlserver
  4. Finally, when you want to connect to the database from your Python code:

    import os
    import pyodbc
    conn = pyodbc.connect('DSN=sqlserverdatasource;Uid=YOUR_SQL_SERVER_USERID;Pwd=YOUR_SQL_SERVER_PASSWORD;Encrypt=yes;Connection Timeout=30;')


    Note: just as with pymssql, if you're using an Azure-hosted database, you need to specify both the username and the server name in YOUR_SQL_SERVER_USERID, separated by an @. For example, yourusername@yourservername. See this help page for more information.

Once you've done that, it should all work fine!

If you have more than one SQL server database to connect to

If at a later stage you want to add more DSNs to be able to connect to other SQL Server instances, you need to add a new block to both .freetds.conf and to odbc.ini.

For .freetds.conf, just add something identical to the code above, but change the sqlserver in square brackets at the start to something different (say, secondsqlserver, or perhaps something more descriptive), and, of course, change the host and port parameters appropriately. After that, .freetds.conf will look something like this:

    tds version = 7.0

    tds version = 7.0

For odbc.ini, again, add something identical to the code above, but replace the sqlserverdatasource with secondsqlserverdatasource or something more descriptive, and then change the Servername to the name you used in .freetds.conf, eg. secondsqlserver. So you'll wind up with something like this:

Driver = FreeTDS
Description = ODBC connection via FreeTDS
Trace = No
Servername = sqlserver

Driver = FreeTDS
Description = ODBC connection via FreeTDS
Trace = No
Servername = secondsqlserver

Once you've done that, you should be able to connect to your second SQL Server database using the same pyodbc.connect, but changing the value assigned to the DSN to the one you put in square brackes in odbc.ini. For example:

conn = pyodbc.connect('DSN=secondsqlserverdatasource;Uid=YOUR_SQL_SERVER_USERID;Pwd=YOUR_SQL_SERVER_PASSWORD;Encrypt=yes;Connection Timeout=30;')