You are here: MS Access Products > MS Access Tips > Microsoft Access

What is Microsoft Access Used For?

    A Brief MS Access Tutorial - Page 2

On this page we'll talk about when you should use Microsoft Access versus Excel or SQL Server.  You can also learn how to get started with Access, and which version will suit you best.

When should I use Microsoft Access?

We've put together the following comparison table to help you decide whether Microsoft Access may be the right solution for you.


Use
Spreadsheet (Excel)
Desktop Database (MS Access)
SQL Server or MySQL with Access as the user interface
Validate basic user input (e.g., for a single field/cell
Yes
Yes
Yes
Complex user input validation or events (if field X = Y, and field Z is empty, perform some action)
Challenging to accomplish
Yes
Yes
Data arranged in a few columns without much repetition
Yes
Yes
Yes
Rows/records supported Excel 2000 and Excel 2003: 65,535 rows

Excel 2007 and Excel 2010: 1,048,576 rows
Unlimited (up to 2GB/table)
Unlimited
Simple cross-references
Yes (vlookup and hlookup)
Yes
Yes
Complex data analysis/queries
Limited
Yes
Yes
Events based on user actions (when user exits a field/cell do X, when they mouse over a field/cell do Y)
No
Yes
Yes
Multiple users, but generally accessing data at different times
No
Yes
Yes
Multiple users, accessing data at the same time
No
Yes (but can be slow depending on network speed)
Yes
Frequent mass-update operations
Challenging to accomplish, time intensive Yes
Yes
Multiple data entry forms
No
Yes
Yes
Mail Merge with Word
Yes
Yes
Yes
Reporting
Challenging to accomplish Yes
Yes
Automated backups
Challenging to accomplish Possible with VB coding, backup software,or UI Builder for Microsoft Access Yes
Record-level auditing
No
Possible with VB coding or UI Builder for Microsoft Access Yes
Ability to hide the inner workings of your project from the user
Challenging to accomplish Yes (MDE files and ACCDE files)
Yes
Expertise Required
Low
For simple databases:  Low/Moderate

For complex requirements: Moderate-to-High
High
Attaching files/links to fields No Yes (MS Access 2007 and Access 2010) Yes
Sharing information on the Web Yes (Excel 2007 and Excel 2010) Yes (Microsoft Access 2010) Yes (with a web front-end like PHP or ASP.NET)

How do I get started with MS Access?

With millions of users, there is a vast wealth of resources to help you. From message boards, Access books, tutorials, blogs, and Microsoft Access addins, you will have many resources to help you succeed.  OpenGate Software has an entire MSAccess Resource Center dedicated to Microsoft Access as well.


Do I need MS Access 2007 or MSAccess 2010?

Access 2000 and Access 2003 remain widely used.  You do not need to upgrade to Access 2007 or Access 2010 to see the benefits of using a database compared to Excel.  Best of all, if you design your database in Access 2000, Access 2003, or Access XP, you can migrate to Access 2007 or Access 2010 when you decide to purchase the upgrade license.  OpenGate has also created a helpful comparison of MSAccess Versions from 2000 to 2010.


How do I access Microsoft Access?

To find out if you have MSAccess installed on your machine, select Start>>Programs>>Microsoft Office.  In the Microsoft Office start meny folder you will see Microsoft Access listed if it is installed.  Microsoft Office Access comes with the Professional Edition of Office, or can be purchased separately.  Many companies purchase and install Access by default.


What if I don't have time to learn about Access Database design?

Que the shameless product plug!  Our Designer for Microsoft Access product is meant to save you hours (literally, hours) of time reading about Access, trial and error creating your database, not to mention the frustration.  Designer walks you through a Q&A wizard in plain language.  You tell Designer what you want to track in your database, and how you want it to look.  Designer does all the heavy lifting like creating relationships, fields, data types, indexes, and data entry forms. 

Don't believe us?  Learn more about Designer for MSAccess     Watch the Demo Video    Take a Free Test Drive


Register for our free eBook - 'Using Microsoft Access For Greater Efficiency' where you can get a comprehensive view of how Microsoft Access can help you be more productive, when to choose Access as a solution, best practices, and where to get help online.

Copyright © 2017 OpenGate Software Inc. All Rights Reserved.

MS Partner