By Richard Rost 4 months ago
Share Your Access Database Online
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.
Access & Hosted Server
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.
SharePoint or SQL Server?
As far as whether to choose between SharePoint or SQL Server, that all depends on who needs to access your data. If you're working with a small team of trusted people (employees of the same company, for example) and you already have a SharePoint site set up between yourselves, and you're not planning on doing much with outside users or putting your data up on a web site, then SharePoint is just fine.
If, on the other hand, you may have people outside your organization use your database (consultants, outside sales reps, vendors, customers, etc.) OR you're planning on having some of your data accessible by a website interface, then you should consider SQL Server.
Both are roughly the same in terms of cost to setup and maintain. SharePoint is a little easier to configure, but not by much. SQL Server gives the best overall functionality, and is usually the better choice, in my opinion. SQL Server gives you much more room for growth in the future. I've got full-length seminars that walk you through setting up each, so don't be too concerned with either being difficult.
In my Access on a Phone video, I show you how to connect to your Access database using remote connectivity software. You can connect with any PC, Android, or iOS device with Chrome Remote Desktop. If your users already have desktop PCs that are running your database, they can connect to them remotely.
If you don't want to keep a PC running around the clock, 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 also have apps for Android and iOS. And, again, if you have a hosted server (above) online, your Workspaces virtual PC can connect to it.
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). The good news is that if you already know how to program in Access VBA, you'll have no problems learning ASP. It uses VB Script which is very similar to VBA. 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.
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. And be careful what you read out there. There are some misleading sites that are claiming that Microsoft has discontinued Access and will no longer be supporting it. No. That's not true. They discontinued Access Web Apps which was one feature of Access. Access isn't going anywhere.
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 the Access & Hosted Server solution and use SQL Server for your backend data.
If your users want to have remote connectivity via a web browser, tablet, or phone, use Remote Access.
If your database needs full-scale public access, with user account creation, logons, shopping carts, and the works, then I recommend an ASP Web Site with SQL Server.
What do I use? When I'm on the road and I want to get into my database, I use a Remote Access solution with Chrome Remote Desktop. I can use my laptop or Android phone/tablet. For my web site, I use an ASP Web Site connected to SQL Server. I love to program in ASP. It's fast, easy (for me), and secure. But that's just my opinion. I've only been doing this for 28 years. :)
Do NOT use Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, or any of those kinds of cloud drive storage solutions to SHARE a Microsoft Access database. 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.
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