Put Your Microsoft Access Database Online to Share
I've been getting this question a lot lately: "How can I put my Access database online so other people can use it?" There are several different things you can do to put your database online, depending on who your users are, what kind of security you need, how much work you want to put into development, and what you want the end-result to look like.
Remote Access Options
Option 1: Access Front-End, Hosted Server Backend. If all of your users are working on desktop PCs (or laptops) with Windows and copies of Access, then I recommend using an Access database front-end file (a database that contains your forms, reports, code, etc.) attached to a Microsoft SQL Server or SharePoint to get the data. The benefit of this method is that you get to use your actual Access database as it is now, and you can just move your tables up to SharePoint or SQL Server. Relatively easy.
Your end users need a copy of Access installed, but you don't have to buy Access for each of them. You can just get the free Access Runtime Edition. I find that this is the best solution available for teams of users (employees of a company, for example), plus using ASP (below) you can make your SQL Server data public on your web site. Best of all, SQL Server hosting through companies like WinHost is real cheap. You can get set up for less than $10/month.
Option 2: Virtual PC Remote Access. There are a million different types of remote access solutions. If you only have one user at a time who needs to work remotely you could set up Windows Remote Desktop or VNC. If you have a few users and a Windows Server you could use Terminal Services which is like Remote Desktop for multiple people (you'll need server licenses, of course). And there are a million different third-party "remotely access my server" programs out there. Amazon Workspaces allows you to set up a virtual PC running Windows and Access. You can access it anywhere through a web browser and they have apps for Android and iOS. For the phone, all you have to do is format your forms to fit on that screen size. I have a class on this coming too. Comment below if you're interested.
Option 3: ASP Web Site. The third option is to create your own web-based database using ASP (Active Server Pages) and a back-end database (which can be in Access or SQL Server). I teach how to do this in:
This is the option that I recommend if you have a database that needs to be viable for public use. Every other option on this list is only good for trusted groups where your users have usernames and passwords to log in. If you need to be able to collect public data on your web site, or let users to your site view data, then this is the option I recommend. My web sites are all built using ASP and either an Access database or SQL Server for the backend storage.
Access Web Apps. As of 2019, Microsoft removed Web Apps from Access. If you see any web sites talking about them, they're dead. They were never very good to begin with.
- If your users have PCs with Access, and you want the FULL capabilities of the Access desktop application you've spent a lot of time building, then go with option 1 and use SQL Server for your backend data.
- If your users want to have remote connectivity via a web browser, tablet, or PHONE, select option 2.
- If your database needs full-scale PUBLIC access, with user account creation, logons, shopping carts, and the works, you pretty much need option 3. Personally, I use option 3 for just about everything that I do because I love to program in ASP. It's fast, easy (for me), and secure. But that's just my opinion.
Do NOT use Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or any of those kinds of cloud drive storage solutions to SHARE a Microsoft Access datbase. If you are the ONLY user working on the database AND it's relatively small AND you have good Internet, and you want to be able to use the database in both your home and your office, see this thread for my ideas.
Your Comments & Questions
If you are interested in learning more about Hosted SQL Server or Virtual Remote PCs, then leave a comment below and let me know exactly what your needs are. The more people that comment, the higher the priority I give specific topics.