What Are the Advantages & Disadvantages of Using a Database in Microsoft Access?

by Mark Pool

The decision to use Access 2010, Microsoft's Office-level database product, instead of another database, depends on your specific database needs as well as the expected size of your database. Maintenance and licensing costs also have to be taken into consideration for large, multiuser databases.

Simplicity

Although Access 2010 isn't simple, the learning curve is not as steep as it is for programs such as SQL Server. If you want to create a database for a personal user, a small business database, or even a single-user application database, Access works well. The program includes a variety of wizards and templates designed to simplify the process of creating databases for different tasks.

Multiple Users

Access is designed primarily for a single user on one computer. Multiple users can work with an Access database if it has been split using the Access "Database Splitter" tool. This will separate the database into a back end containing the tables, and a front end containing the data access tools. The back end is placed in a shared location. The front end is placed on each user's computer. To update the forms or queries, you must update each user's copy.

Scalability

Access databases include a size limitation of 2 GB, 32,768 objects and 255 simultaneous users. These limitations won't pose a problem for most users. However, large multiuser applications or even single, large, single-user databases including multimedia fields, will quickly hit the database limitations. Linking two or more Access databases removes limitations on database size, but this can complicate database setup.

Extendability

Access works with Visual Basic for Applications to offer extended functionality. Although VBA is a programming solution, it is designed for simplicity. Use it to automate tasks, to create simplified forms or to tie an Access database into another Office application.

About the Author

Mark Pool has been a technical writer and translator specializing in information technology since 2001. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from Columbia University, he went on to study the IT sector and receive technical certifications from Microsoft, Cisco and Red Hat.