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We currently have no auditing settings turned on in our SharePoint Farm.

In future the intention is that some auditing will be turned on. For example, recording when permissions are edited.

A confirmation has been requested by parts of our business to confirm that no auditing information can be retrieved directly from SQL even with auditing turned off for a site.

Is this correct?

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    If you are on SharePoint Online, you cannot query the database directly, as you will not have access to it. – wjervis Feb 15 '16 at 17:33
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SharePoint databases should never be accessed directly for read or write operations per KB841057. That said, if you need to look at it, you can run:

SELECT * FROM AuditData (NoLock)

No audit logging will be produced with auditing disabled, but audit data will be preserved (given you didn't turn on trimming) if auditing was enabled and then subsequently disabled.

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