Service/Database Accounts - NT SERVICE\MSSQLSERVER & NT SERVICE\SQLSERVERAGENT - what are they for?

Hi Guys,
I’ve done a fair amount of research for this question but just cannot seem to find the answer to my question in simple, non-DBA, terms.
Server 2008 R2
SQL 2008 R2
There are 2 users in the system database logins (NT SERVICE\MSSQLSERVER, NT SERVICE\SQLSERVERAGENT) … what are they for? It appears that they
are accounts to run the corresponding Windows services but yet they cannot be selected from the list of available built-in accounts, local accounts or domain accounts.
Also, I am using a couple of domain user accounts to run the services, do I need to add them to the database? I changed the service accounts from NETWORK
SERVICE to the domain user accounts using the SQL Configuration Manger which is supposed to take care of managing the user group membership and registry changes but the domain accounts are not in the database …. The services appear to be running fine.

In basic terms:
As you say, in the SQL Server Database Engine there are two logins;
NT SERVICE\MSSQLSERVER and NT SERVICE\SQLSERVERAGENT. The Database Engine runs in Windows as a Windows service named
MSSQLSERVER. The NT SERVICE\MSSQLSERVER login is used by the service to connect to the Database Engine. Basically, this is how it connects to itself. The SQL Server Agent runs as a Windows service named
login is how the Windows process that is SQL Server Agent connects to the Database Engine to read the
msdb database to find out what it should do; and then do it. Both of these logins are members of the
sysadmin fixed server role, so they can do anything in the Database Engine. And they need to stay that way.
No, they can't be selected in the list of available built-in accounts, local accounts or domain accounts. This is because they are services, not accounts. They have a security identifier (SID) in Windows,
but Windows knows they aren't real users. Windows can authenticate them, but they don't have passwords that any human can use. If you run
lusrmgr.msc and look at the groups, you will see groups like
is a member of the group.
As for the account that you used to run the services, this is complicated and has changed from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008 and now again in SQL Server Code Named 'Denali'. The short answer is that
the account you specify will be used when a process tries to reach outside of the current Windows environment. But within the computer, there is a mix of authorization granted to the domain user, the service, and the Windows group
The good news is that SQL Server Configuration Manager figures out all the stuff you need when you change the accounts. If you are a glutton for punishment, you can get an idea for how complicated this
is by looking at the Denali documentation where I have tried to provide more specific information. (Note this is not the same as SQL Server 2008.) You can see it at:
Configure Windows Service Accounts and Permissions
Rick Byham, Microsoft, SQL Server Books Online, Implies no warranty

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