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MS Access Database, Why Choose It?
(And Why Not Use Access Software for Your Business)
Is Microsoft Access the best small business database? What is Microsoft Access?
These are the questions you may be asking yourself.
Microsoft Access is a
Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), like Oracle & SQL/Server among
others. This RDBMS combines the database engine known as JET, Forms
Design, Report Design, Graphics, and Visual Basic for custom program execution.
Is it the right database development
system for your needs? This discussion will help you identify the pros and
cons of using MS Office Access database as your software development system.
We also present and discuss typical problems found in non-professionally developed databases - particularly
The following list provides answers to the question - why use Microsoft Access for consideration for your company's database
Microsoft Access is available with the Microsoft Office
Professional suite of business products therefore no additional database
software is required if your company purchases computers with this suite of
products already installed.
MS Access database is likely to be available and supported
for years to come because Microsoft is the premier software company in the
MS Access is the most widely used desktop database system in
You can now put an Access database on the Internet Cloud with no
programming changes! Typical cost is less than $150 per user per
month. Contact us if
you need help with the cloud. Users from multiple cities can be sharing
one database in a day. And from laptops in the field too.
If database support is important to you then Access may be your
best choice since Access has more support and development consultants than
any other desktop database system.
Access is significantly cheaper to implement and maintain
compared to larger database systems such as Oracle or SQL Server.
Access can provide a cost benefit since consulting rates are typically lower for
compared to Oracle or SQL Server consultants.
Fairly complex databases can be setup and running in 1/2
the time and cost of other large database systems (the simpler the database
the greater the cost advantage).
Microsoft Access integrates well with the other members of the
Microsoft Office suite of products (Excel, Word, Outlook, etc.).
Other software manufacturers are more likely to provide
interfaces to MS Access than any other desktop database system.
When designed correctly, Access databases can be ported
(usually with some difficulty) to SQL Server or Oracle. This is
important if you want to start small or develop a pilot database system and
then migrate to the larger database management systems.
A Microsoft Access system can be placed on a website for access
for remote users. Simple screens can be developed within Access, Data
Access Pages. Or full control and functionality can be implemented using
Active Server Page (ASP) programming. Note that you still have the
same simultaneous connection limitations described above.
The following are some reasons why Microsoft
Access may not be your best choice for your company's database application
development. In some cases your
computer systems may not be reliable enough to handle any database management
The Microsoft Office suite of software products is not in
your company's approved technology set.
You need to capture time critical transactions - e.g.,
from a lab instrument
Any single table in your database could have more than 1
million large to medium-width records, or 5 million small-width records
(i.e. 3-4 numeric or short text fields)
You would regularly have more than 15 people actively
using the database at the same time - for example quick data entry
and/or queries and reports.
Your database servers experience periodic, unexpected
crashes - e.g. more than 1 per month (in this case you'll have problems with
any database system).
You require extensive database security because of the
highly sensitive nature of the data. (Although you can get around this issue
by using SQL Server as the database engine with an Access front-end.)
Your company needs to run multiple Access databases, some
with Access security enabled and some without.
You will be sharing the database with mixed operating
systems (Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, etc). See
an article by Microsoft on
why Microsoft Access becomes corrupted.
Typical problems found with non-professional consultants
development of Microsoft Access databases:
Poor relational design, too much duplicated data, no
(appropriate) primary keys.
Using a Microsoft Access template database that doesn't
perfectly fit your needs (no template does!).
Attempt to overly control the database forms with custom
controls for everything like: deleting records; moving to the next record;
Using Macros to handle events within the forms because the developer doesn't know
Microsoft Visual Basic for Access Applications (VB script).
Many 'on format' controls/VBA Code in reports because the developer doesn't know the SQL programming
Consultants use of data fields to link between tables resulting in significant duplication of information and
unnecessarily large tables.
Use of weird color combinations on forms and screen backgrounds making the information on the screen
difficult to read. See our
sample Microsoft Access software
All that said... there are several alternatives to Microsoft
Access. Here is a list of the main Access database alternatives:
||FileMaker Pro is a cross-platform relational database application
from FileMaker Inc. It integrates a database engine with a graphical
user interface and security features, allowing users to modify the
database by dragging new elements into layouts, screens, or forms.
|Alpha Five/Alpha Anywhere
||Alpha Five is a relational database management system and rapid
application development platform for building desktop, web, and cross
platform mobile applications. Alpha Five is no longer available because
Alpha Software has migrated to a subscription based model called Alpha
Anywhere that also allows for mobile computing.
||Paradox is a relational database management system currently
published by Corel Corporation. It was originally released for DOS by
Ansa Software, and then by Borland after it bought the company. A
Windows version was released by Borland in 1992.
||Lotus Approach is a relational database management system included
in IBM's Lotus SmartSuite for Microsoft Windows. As a company, Approach
was founded in 1991 and has won more than 30 awards, including "best of
show" at Comdex.
One key component of Microsoft Office Access is the database engine.
Also referred to as the JET (Joint Engine Technology). This database
engine is what communicates with the tables and is also used in Access Visual
If you are looking for a professional Microsoft Access
programming company then
See discussions about
Microsoft Office Access versus other leading database products.
For complete information about Microsoft Access databases visit