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Benefits of Access
By Richard Rost   Richard Rost on LinkedIn Email Richard Rost   3 years ago

Key Benefits of a Microsoft Access Database

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This video is for all of the small- and mid-sized businesspeople who have decided that they've outgrown Excel and are thinking about moving up to a full-fledged database application but can't decide what to do.

It's also for the person who is working for a larger company and is trying to convince his boss to use Microsoft Access, but the boss (who usually isn't a computer expert) was told by some "consultant" they need something more "large scale" when they really don't. Of course, a lot of consultants love to push expensive, over-priced systems.

Or, perhaps you're a student, small business owner, hobbyist, or other non-computer-type person who wants to learn what Microsoft Access is all about and how it can benefit you.

In any case, I'm going to tell you why Access is a fantastic choice for pretty much all of your database needs, what its key benefits are, and why you should consider using it for your next project.

Storing Data. First, Access is much better than storing your data in Excel, especially if you're sharing that data with other people. I've got a whole video dedicated to when you should use Access vs. Excel. I love Excel, but it's better at analyzing small amounts of data. Once your sheets get up over a couple hundred rows, it's time for Access.

Cost Effective. Access is inexpensive to get up and running. At the time I'm recording this video, September of 2021, A Microsoft 365 subscription is $12.50 per month and that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and the rest of the Office suite. Plus, you only need to buy one copy of the software for the developer. Everyone else can use the free Runtime version.

I just saw an ad on Google when searching for Access stuff, and it said, "is Microsoft Access holding you back?" so I clicked on the ad just to see what it's about. I won't mention the product, but the lowest tier of service was over $500 per month. So, yeah, most small businesses can't afford that for a database.

Easy to Learn. While it may not be as easy to learn as Excel, Access is a whole lot easier to learn than SQL Server, Oracle, or some other, high-end database platforms. Access has a user interface that is very similar to other Microsoft Office applications. If you already know Word and Excel, you'll be very comfortable with Access from the start. Familiar keystrokes, like Ctrl-Z to Undo, are the same in all applications. Plus, you can get started learning for free with my free 4-hour Access Beginner Level 1 course.

User-Friendly Interface. Access also allows you to create very user-friendly interfaces for the databases you build. You can design forms and reports however you see fit. Want to put nice little search buttons on your forms next to fields? No problem. Do you have users with poor eyesight? Not an issue. Make forms designed for them with nice big fields and fonts. You're in charge! And again, if your users already know Word and Excel, they'll be comfortable with your database.

Lots of Templates Available. While I personally don't use other people's templates - I prefer to build databases myself from scratch - there are hundreds of templates available from Microsoft and other sources. Many of these templates are free. Some cost a very small amount. Plus, I've got lots of templates available on my web site too.

Relationships. Access allows you to create relationships very easily. This is when you have customers with orders, or vendors with products. That information should go into separate tables. This is difficult to do with some other database programs, and pretty much impossible to do with just an Excel workbook.

Rapid Application Development. Once you've learned the basics, you can put together a new database in a very small amount of time. In fact, you can be up and running with a simple customer database, complete with contact history, order entry, and invoicing, in less than a day! I've got free videos to show you how to do all of that in just a couple of hours.

Ease of Integration. Since Access is part of Microsoft Office, it integrates well with Word, Excel, Outlook. It's very easy to import/export Excel data, for example. You can use your Access database as a data source for a mail merge with Word. You can send email using Outlook with minimal effort.

Cost of Development & Maintenance. It's much cheaper to design and build a database in Access than it is in Oracle, SQL Server, or other industry-level database management systems. Not only are these databases more difficult to setup and build, but they're costly to maintain. You don't need a dedicated employee on staff to manage an Access database (although it doesn't hurt. LOL)

Wizards. Access has a lot of wizards built in to help you with tasks that may be difficult for beginner developers, such as creating combo boxes (drop down lists) or command buttons. 

Powerful Reporting. It's super easy to create professional-looking printable reports in Access. You don't need third-party reporting tools to create invoices, financial statements, charts, mailing labels, or even producing written correspondence either as individual letters or bulk mail. Plus, you can easily export your reports as PDF files. I get asked all the time about integrating Access with 3rd party programs like Crystal Reports. My response is always, "why?" I have yet to come across a report I couldn't generate with Access alone.

Flexible and Adaptable. With Access it's easy to add or change things around with minimal effort. Need to add a few fields to your order table? No problem. Access will even automatically rename objects for you most of the time. Want to add a few new reports to the accounting system? Very quick and easy to do. You don't need to schedule three meetings and take two weeks to add a couple new fields to your order table and form.

ODBC Compliant. Access is fully compliant with the Open Database Connectivity standards. You can easily connect to other database servers: SQL server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc. even over the Internet. If you currently have an SQL Server database that your organization is using, you can connect your Access database to it for reporting, data entry, etc.

Easy to Share Data. If you've got multiple people who need to use the database, Access makes sharing easy. All you have to do is split the database, put the tables on one computer (a server or even just a workstation on your network) and put the front-end file on everyone else's computer that needs to use it.

I've even got a tool available that helps you to update everyone's front-end files with a single click. It's called the Access Updater.

Allow Remote Users. You can also easily integrate with an online database such as SQL Server or SharePoint to share your data over the internet, which is handy if you have remote workers.

Connect From Phone. Remote users can even connect to your Access database using their Android, iPhone, tablet, or any other similar device. They can connect on the road, from home, or anywhere they have an internet connection.

Practically Unlimited Data Storage. One of the complaints I see online from people who don't know Access is that the maximum size of an Access database is only 2 GB. While a single Access file can only hold 2 GB of data, you can link multiple Access files together to store virtually unlimited amounts of data. Plus, there are lots of tricks and optimizations you can perform, including archiving old data, splitting off fields into separate tables, and more.

Scalability. If your data needs are growing, and you've gone from 5 people using the database to 50, it's very easy to upsize the backend data storage and processing to SQL Server while still maintaining the front-end Access database you've spent a lot of hard work and time building. You don't lose your initial investment. You just move the data.

Power Under the Hood. A lot of "so-called" database experts consider Access to be an amateur's database. However, it does pack a lot of power under the hood. You've got the full VBA programming language that lets you do pretty much anything you can think of as far as application programming. Plus, once you connect Access to SQL Server, you'll be hard pressed to find a better database solution available! Watch my Intro to VBA video for a quick introduction to this powerful programming language.

Security and Permissions. Once you know a little VBA programming, it's possible for you to set up proper security for your database and assign permissions to users and groups.

Need even more security? Upscale to SQL Server and your data is locked down like Fort Knox, while you can continue to develop in Access.

Longevity. Now this is a big one. I get asked this a couple times a week. Is Access going away? The answer is an emphatic NO. Access has been around since 1992. I started working with it in 1994. It's one of the most popular database applications available today. And contrary to what you may have read online, Microsoft has NO plans to retire Access any time soon. It will be here for the foreseeable future.

Easy to Get Support. Since Access is so popular, there is no shortage of Access consultants out there to get help from. My advanced Developer students love to help out other users in my Access Forums. Some are even available for one-on-one consulting for a fee. Plus, there are many other very active online communities for Access developers and users.

Conclusion. While there may be other high-end database platforms out there, Microsoft Access is easy to learn and inexpensive, but is also very capable of growing with you. It's extremely customizable and scalable, so as your business grows, your database can grow too. 

Learn More. Want to learn more? Visit my web site using one of the many links provided on the topics discussed in this video, and of course if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or post them in the comments section below this video. 

Free Training. Also, be sure to watch my free 4-hour long Access Beginner Level 1 course. It will teach you all of the basics of getting up and running in Microsoft Access.

I hope you enjoyed the Benefits of an Access Database brought to you by Access Learning Zone. My name is Richard Rost. Thanks for watching.


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