Microsoft Office Access is a database management system (DBMS) provided by Microsoft as part of its Office Professional or Business suite, that allows one to create and administrate databases. In this article, I will discuss some advantages of MS Access over other DBMS.
Now it’s well known that many people are already utilizing Excel, in order to analyze and present their data and these people may be asking themselves why in addition to Excel, should one start using Access (not other DBMSs) for data analysis and integration?
So, we have decided to answer that question and compile a list of the top ten reasons to start using Microsoft Access for database creation and data analysis.
10 Advantages/Benefits of MS Access Over Other DBMS
1) An efficient, easy and accessible way of creating relational databases
Microsoft Access allows one to create relational databases in an efficient and expedient manner. Getting started in Access is very simple and quick, once one has mastered the relational database theory needed to create a relational database, one simply has to open Access in order to get started creating tables and relationships. There is no additional software, system resources, or IT professionals needed to help with the installation of components like there are with other database management systems.
2) The learning curve is not as difficult for Access, as it is for other DBMS packages
There are many database management systems on the market that allow one to create powerful databases. One can find both open source and paid industry-level database management systems. However, the learning curve, in order to master using these systems, can be quite complex and time-consuming. If one has decided that a career as a database administrator or developer is one’s aim, then as a student or someone learning relational database theory, Access is a great place to get started and one can easily master the theory without being overwhelmed by the actual package itself. Once one has mastered all the skills and theories needed to create databases in Access, one can adapt to more industrial-level packages since one has already mastered the foundation-level concepts.
3) The user interface is the familiar Office interface
Often when distributing databases, end users can be put off by or alienated by unfamiliar user interfaces. The advantage of designing and distributing a database developed in Access is that end-users or other developers who want to work on or update the database, will not be alienated by the interface. The interface has all the elements of the Office standard software as well as some of the familiar shortcut keys such as CTRL-S for saving and CTRL-Z for undoing. Often what stops the adoption and usage of database-centered applications and applications in general, is an unfamiliar user interface, so with Access databases, one is unlikely to encounter that particular issue.
4) Functional Form and Report Creation Ability
Forms are attractive front-end interfaces that you can create in Access for data entry and a multitude of other purposes and functionality. In most cases, for example, one would not want to allow end-users direct access to the back-end tables that make up the fundamental and critical units of the database, so one can use front-end data entry forms that allow the user to only enter data in certain tables for this purpose. One can also create navigation forms and other types of application-centric forms of Access. You can also format these forms quite extensively and add conditional formatting, charts, pictures, web browser controls, and a variety of other features to the forms you create.
Reports, on the other hand, allow one to display data from your tables or calculated fields in a printable manner, as with forms, reports can be customized and displayed in a multitude of ways in Access. In fact form, design, and report creation in Access is quite an exciting topic all on its own. Form design and report creation, is really where the advantages of using Access for data database creation and data analysis become quite evident. A database administrator can, for example, using Access Reports, create printable reports and documents to show management the top customers, regions, and sales amounts from one’s tables on a monthly basis.
5) Utilize VBA to create fully-fledged data-centric applications
Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the programming language and environment is available to Access as well as the other Office applications. One can, therefore, create powerful data-centric applications by incorporating VBA programming techniques. Access programmers take the standard databases with tables, forms, and reports to the next level and can deal with unique user needs that one’s particular database may need to handle through programming. You can for example use loops as part of your code to loop through thousands of records and extract and export certain records of interest.
6) Create Integrated Office Applications
Let’s say you are working for a company and your co-workers prefer using Excel or even Word for certain tasks or for viewing certain data. You can easily create Access Applications that accommodate your co-workers. For example, you can create an Access database that is linked to tables in Excel, so your co-workers who are more comfortable using Excel can still use Excel for data entry. You can also through VBA export and copy elements of your Access reports to Word documents. When using Excel and Access correctly together in an integrated Access/Excel application you can take advantage of Excel’s data analysis features such as Pivot Tables and Access’s data manipulation features and functionality such as queries and SQL queries for final outputs. You can also easily export Access reports or other objects as PDFs for viewing.
Access has multi-user features that allow one to share one’s database with up to 40 people at a time. When placed in a shared location, up to 40 people can use the database simultaneously. This means that if multiple users or admin need to update or engage with the same database then they can all make changes or edits without the changes being lost. Later versions of Access also allow one to create a Web Application that allows users to edit and change certain aspects of the same database using a web browser. Due to the ubiquitous nature of the Office software packages, one can also share the databases one has created in Access very easily, as single copy standalone databases as well.
8) Handy Templates and Wizards available
There are many database templates available for Access, which automate most of the popular database functionality and one can download nutrition tracking database applications as well as project management database applications that are already fully-fledged and basically just need data entry. Access also comes with wizards that break creating database objects such as forms, queries, and reports into step-by-step bite-sized chunks, which takes the headaches out of creating these database objects from scratch.
9) Use Access Runtime to send your databases to clients who don’t have Access
Let’s say you are an Access developer/programmer or database consultant who has designed an Access application or sample application that you would like to send to clients and/or prospective clients. The only problem is that the client or prospective client does not have Access installed on their system. One can however easily work around this problem, by using Access Runtime. Microsoft provides Access Runtime as a free download. One can thus design fully-fledged databases and applications in Access and allow clients or prospective clients, who do not have Access installed, to view and engage with your database through Access Runtime. It’s also useful when one wants to send sample databases that you do not want to be edited since Runtime versions do not have most of the design-related interfaces enabled, and thus end-users cannot create their own objects or modify the objects in your database. So through the use of Runtime, you can showcase your Access abilities by distributing your sample Access databases to prospective clients as well as deliver databases that cannot be edited to existing clients, who do not have Access installed.
10) Active User Community and many learning materials available for Access
Access is the most popular global desktop database management system and has been around for more than a decade. Consequently, there is an active user community that can easily assist people new to Access with Access related questions. There are a myriad of learning materials such as manuals, websites, and forums that are exclusively devoted to Access, so if you do decide to embark on the Access learning journey, you will never be at the loss when it comes to assistance or tutorials.
Related: MS Access 2016 Master Class: Beginner to Advanced (Affiliate Link).
Microsoft Access is a multi-faceted, easily available database management system that allows one to create databases, SQL queries, and data-centric applications with ease. While not as high powered as industrial DBMS’s – it is much cheaper and more accessible. There are many more advantages to using Access as a DBMS and we have just reviewed the top ten reasons here for adopting Access to your personal or company desktop DBMS to handle certain business needs.
Do you use Microsoft Access for database creation currently? Please feel free to comment in the comments section.