Microsoft Access – A guide for I.T. Departments

Supporting Microsoft Access in the I.T. Department

I.T. Departments and Microsoft Access

Thank you for reading this. My guess is that you are a hardworking, time poor, I.T. Support person with no desire to learn more about MS Access than you need to.

You have probably been tasked with looking after, some mickey mouse database, that was created by a long-gone staffer, who wasn’t even a programmer, but the database is now mission critical to your organisation, or at least one department of it.

You might have even been feed the usual garbage, by people who should know better, that Microsoft Access is a curse on the face of computers, and should be banished to the trash can of Windows 95. I should know. I have worked in a few I.T. Departments as a support person, and later a manager. Again, thank you for still reading. Please open you mind for a few minutes.

Microsoft Access is a user-friendly tool that can create scalable, yes you read that right, scalable databases. I have heard of MS Access databases running 20 to 25 concurrent users with no trouble. There are ways to go beyond that limit too, by upgrading the back-end to SQL, but that is beyond the scope of this briefing.

I just mentioned back-end. A good Microsoft Access database should be split into a front end, containing all the forms, queries and reports, and a back-end which is a container for the data.

Your first and most important take out from this briefing is to put the back-end on a shared drive, and a copy of the front end on each user’s computer. Please do not just put both on the shared drive. It will slow the database down if you do, and might cause corruption.

Access Backend and Frontend

Do not put the Access Backend and Frontend on the shared drive.

Now the front-end, might need relinking to the back-end to tell the front-end where the back-ends new home is. I have another blog post on automatically relinking the database. If you need help with this please contact me.

Now apart from making sure the back-end is backed up there isn’t much else for you to do. Test the backup by restoring. The second take out is that, some backup systems don’t like backing up Access databases while they are open, so testing the backup is critical.

The usual calls that you will get from users is when the network goes down, in which case, just ask the users to turn their computer off and on again. Again, there are programming solutions which can inform users of this, or just to wait until the network, or the fileserver is restored.

Please let me know in the comments if there is any thing else that you want to know about Access.

Oh, one last note. Yes. There are mickey mouse databases, but that doesn’t mean Microsoft Access is poor software. There are professional developers that create very fast, user friendly databases, that are easy to manage. If you would like a professional organisation to take over the complete management and maintenance of your database, please contact us.

If your I.T. department despises Access, we can convert the database to a self-updating, executable with a SQL back-end or web based, or anything in-between and completely take all future support of the database off your hands. Please give us a call or contact us using the form below.

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