Is your MS Access database becoming a burden? Are you facing new requirements? Problems? Find out whether it's time for you to move on or not.

outgrown-ms-access

You’ve created or inherited an MS Access database that used to meet your team’s needs. Now you are facing new requirements or the database is not working as well as it once did, and are pondering whether it’s a good time to move to a better solution.

Businesses need up-to-date data to make good decisions. In order to deal with the increasing amount of data, companies rely on various database applications. With data accumulating across various applications, desktops, websites and file servers, workers have turned to simple, do it yourself applications. MS Access is one of these applications.

Why MS Access?

MS Access enables workers to quickly build effective applications without requiring the skills of a professional developer. It fills the need for simple and effective information tracking and sharing within a team. The database can be quickly modified, customized to the team’s process, and reports can be created with ease -- all without involving IT.

A common scenario begins with the need for a small application to meet a business need. MS Access is able to effectively meet the immediate need, but because the application solves critical business needs, more and more people start using it, and making requests until it is a heavily relied on within the entire company. As these requirements increase, the application’s stability and performance start to decline. This example illustrates a challenge organizations can face when the usage of an application has outgrown its original intent.

There are different ways your MS Access can outgrow its original design.

Users

Is your database being accessed by more than 10 users? How many access the database at the same time? Are they all running reports or queries? A professionally designed and well-tuned Access database can theoretically support up to 20 concurrent users with decent performance. Unfortunately, few Access databases are well-designed and implemented with best practices. The result is that many solutions don’t reliably support more than a few users. Even with proper design, MS Access has many technical limitations that prevent scaling.

Accessibility

Have your requirements on how to access the data changed? Do you now need to access the data from a mobile device? MS Access databases are not accessible from the Web. If that’s a new requirement you may need a new solution.

Reliability

How important is the data you are accessing? Do you need to be available all the time without errors? Do you need a quick way to restore after a crash? What about back ups? Data stored in Access database can easily become corrupted. Furthermore, backups must usually be done manually and can only be reliably performed when no users are connected, which can be difficult in a multiuser environment.

Security

All users have read and write access in MS Access. Do you need tighter controls on what each user is allowed to do? It’s possible to create the illusion of security in Access with some custom forms, but Access is not intended to support user roles and is unsecure at its core.

Database Size

Access uses a file share-based database engine. Unlike client/server solutions such as Microsoft SQL Server, file share databases are not optimized for large datasets. Access slows to a crawl when a database gets too large. The risk of data corruption also increases with the database size.

MS Access fills the need for simple and effective information tracking and sharing within a team. As a database matures, it is common for teams’ to face one of the situations above. Is your database facing one or many of the issues above? If so, it maybe time to seriously evaluate the current situation and create a plan to move to an enterprise level solution.

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