Microsoft Access is the ninth most popular database management system, according to the DB-Engines Ranking. However, if you are still using Access for your growing business, you may be noticing some issues.
Do you have problems with data corruption? Reaching capacity limits? Reduced performance?
Now is the time for your data migration away from Microsoft Access. Find out how Access is holding you back and how an upgrade can benefit your business.
What Is Microsoft Access Designed to Do?
Microsoft Access is a relational database management system that debuted in 1992. Microsoft added it to the Office suite, which increased its popularity. Despite an official announcement that Microsoft would remove Access from the online productivity suite in 2018, updates continue to appear.
Access was designed to store information for reference, reporting, and analysis. It manages data more efficiently than Excel or other spreadsheet applications. It is an easy DIY solution even for people who are not IT professionals.
Access lets you quickly set up a database and build records into it. It has features that make data entry faster and easier. Tools let you sort and search the database as well as create reports.
Why You Should Stop Using Microsoft Access
Access was great when you were starting, but not great for the growing company. It may be an adequate solution if you have a system with some data for your own use. Once you need capacity for multiple users, Access has several problems.
Access databases have a limit of 2GB, including all database objects and data. If you need more capacity, you have to link to tables in other Access databases. Multimedia data will quickly fill the space limit.
A growing company will soon run into the file size limit.
Corruption is one of the biggest issues with multiple users on an Access database. You may have different Windows versions operating on your network, from Windows 98 to Windows 10. This mix of operating systems can corrupt data from your Access database.
Having up-to-date backups is critical. Database corruption is often permanent, so you have to go back to an earlier version.
Multiple Versions of Truth
One goal of a centralized database is to hold a single version of truth. An Access database can easily lead to multiple versions of truth, though. Different users can add fields or have the (supposedly) same field sitting on different screens.
The same piece of information can be sitting in more than one place in the database. Fields that should be the same can be in multiple places with multiple versions.
As more people use an Access database, the system runs slower. Access saves all the information in your database as a single file. Reports, queries, and forms are slower.
When you store more data, the performance of the system suffers. The computer can even crash when you run queries and forms.
Microsoft Access is a desktop application for Windows desktops. Users have to access it on the computer where it was installed. Users are responsible for updates and upgrades.
Microsoft tried to develop an online version of Access but withdrew their attempts. For non-Windows users or to share your application, you need a remote cloud-hosted desktop service.
Options for Data Migration Away from Access
You have several options when you are ready to upgrade from Access. You can choose another Microsoft product like SQL Server or an entirely different enterprise database product. Some options are more DIY, like Power Apps, while others give you a more ready-made solution.
Microsoft Power Apps is a “low-code” rapid application development tool. People with little programming knowledge can quickly build tools including databases. The language is based on the functional language of Excel.
Power Apps is cloud-based. You can connect to data stored in locations including Microsoft Dataverse and Sharepoint. However, you need specific connectors to communicate with each data source.
Power Apps has other limitations. The recent data leak raised major questions about security.
The item limit for delegation will create a significant issue if you need to filter or load larger amounts of data. If you use multiple data sources, you need to fully understand how the data sources interact to get around delegation warnings.
SQL Server is another relational database management system from Microsoft. It is available on-premises or in the cloud. It provides better performance than Access.
SQL Server databases can hold terabytes of data. SQL Server handles multiple queries better than Access. It provides more security with role-based access.
One major disadvantage of SQL Server is the cost. Licensing is much more expensive than other options. You will need a specialized database administrator for when problems come up, especially if the software is on-premises.
Another issue is a lack of compatibility. SQL Server only runs on Windows-based servers.
If you are hosting SQL Server on-premises, you may need server upgrades and other new hardware. Newer versions of SQL Server need advanced technologies only found on newer machines.
Access as an Enterprise Database Front End
You have options for an enterprise relational database beyond SQL Server. Oracle, IBM, and Amazon are just some of the providers that offer a relational database solution. Enterprise database management systems are designed for many users, with up to thousands of people accessing the system at the same time.
A transitional step in moving out of Access is to use Access as the front end for an enterprise database product. You are not totally solving the problem because Access is still part of the system.
Moving the database out of Access will at least solve the corruption issue. Keeping a familiar interface can help with change management as you complete the full data migration.
Benefits of Custom Software for Your Data Management System
Many businesses find that the best upgrade from Microsoft Access is to a custom software solution. Off-the-shelf software is not always robust enough to address the specific challenges your company faces. It can limit your ability to find new capabilities or the best process optimization.
Custom software development includes the design, creation, implementation, and maintenance of software developed for the specific needs of your business. You get a software solution that supports your business goals. It is scalable to handle your future growth.
Custom software solves a range of issues by:
- Streamlining complex tasks
- Improving production management
- Increasing efficiency
- Ensuring data accuracy
When you need to upgrade legacy systems, custom software makes the migration easier.
You get ongoing technical support. Consultants will ensure that the system solves the problems you wanted it to address. You receive the updates and modifications you need over time as your business circumstances change.
Data Migration Tips to Upgrade from Access
A software development expert can help with data migration. Designing your custom software solution can take into account why you were using a legacy system like Access and how a modern approach can provide a better solution.
The structure of an Access database is often less than ideal. You do not want your data migration to replicate the inefficiencies of the old system. The custom software development process can help you discover what should be done instead of copying what was done before.
Tips for a successful data migration include:
- Create and follow a migration plan
- Closely examine the data to eliminate outdated, duplicated, or otherwise corrupt information and practices
- Use migration tools to automate the process
- Back up the database before you start the migration
- Have a contingency plan in case issues come up
Moving your critical information is an important and delicate task. The data migration market is growing rapidly as more and more businesses see the need for new solutions. Working with an expert will help ensure your migration project goes smoothly.
Choose a Better Relational Database Management System
You know why you should migrate away from Microsoft Access. It has stopped meeting the needs of your growing business. It may even be slowing your growth.
Find a better solution with custom software from InterSoft Associates. We design our software systems around the needs of your business and your users. Our success rate ensures your software will meet or exceed your expectations.
We are with you throughout the process, including the data migration. We stay with you as consultants after the delivery of your software. As your business evolves, your software will get the updates to meet your needs.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Let us help put your data back to work for you.