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I have noticed that there are two command syntaxes to change database configuration settings in SQL Server - ALTER DATABASE SCOPED CONFIGURATION and ALTER DATABASE SET. However, I am unclear on which database settings fall under each syntax.

For example, I know that database compatibility is a database-specific setting, but it uses the ALTER DATABASE SET syntax. This makes me wonder why it does not use the ALTER DATABASE SCOPED CONFIGURATION syntax.

So, my question is: Do you have any mental guide that help identify which database settings fall under which syntax? I would appreciate any insights or information on this topic.

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A fair few of the original things that were enabled by the ALTER DATABASE SCOPED CONFIGURATION syntax were things that used to be available only at an instance level via trace flags or sp_configure. Maybe you could use that as a heuristic. - Martin Smith

For some reason, compatibility_level has its own documentation page (is not documented with the other SET options). I know that most scoped configs are performance related (but not all). Apart from that I go by the documentation when I'm uncertain. - Tibor Karaszi

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