What is Microsoft Access and What is It Used For?

Database representing Microsoft Access, what it is, what it is used for, as well as features and benefits or advantages.

Microsoft Access Overview, Features and Benefits

Applies to: Microsoft® Access® 2013, 2016, 2019 and 365 (Windows Desktop)

Microsoft Access is a relational database program and a typical database includes tables, queries, forms, and reports. With Microsoft Access, you can easily organize, store and retrieve data. There are several benefits or advantages to using Microsoft Access.

The following are 10 benefits of using Microsoft Access:

  1. Access offers an affordable solution for small to medium-sized businesses and smaller teams in larger organizations.
  2. It’s easier to learn and use than a client-server database.
  3. It’s easy to import and export to other Microsoft Office programs such as Excel.
  4. An Access database can link to external databases and query and report results.
  5. Users can maintain an Access database on a server or desktop computer (you don’t have to use a cloud-based solution).
  6. Users can design and control the database rather than depending on outside sources or consultants.
  7. Access allows automation using different types of macros.
  8. Reports can be output in  PDF (Portable Document Format) format.
  9. Users can use SQL (Structured Query Language)  to interact with the database. Access databases can also be ported to SQL Server.
  10. Microsoft offers several Access database templates to get started.

Let’s review some of the key features of Microsoft Access.

Access Databases Can Contain One or More Tables to Hold Data

In Access, data is stored in tables (much like spreadsheets). A table can include  many fields to separate the data. A field in a table can be set up for different data types and to allow or prevent users from entering certain information.

A Microsoft Access database can contain multiple tables and you can relate the tables by a key field.

Data Can Be Imported from Excel and Other Databases

You can import data from Excel into Microsoft Access or from another external database. In Access, you can also link to external databases rather than importing data. You will still be able to create queries and reports when using linked tables.

Forms Can Be Created for Data Entry or Viewing

You can create Access forms to act as a front-end to enter or edit data in your tables. An Access database can contain multiple forms, displaying different fields. Forms can display one record at a time or multiple records. You can customize the appearance of forms and include navigation buttons.

Users Can Design and Run Queries to Retrieve Data

In Access you can create queries to display data matching specific criteria. It’s simple to save and reuse queries and to use them as a source for reports or export them to Excel

There are several types of queries in Access including:

  • Select queries
  • Delete queries
  • Update queries
  • Make Table queries
  • Append queries
  • Crosstab queries

Reports Can Be Designed and Printed or Output to PDF

Access reports are quite different from Excel reports. They can include multiple fields from one or more tables and include grouping, subtotals and grand totals. You can also easily export reports to PDF (Portable Document Format). Access reports can include a company logo, lines to separate records and even subreports.

Access Databases Can Be Automated with Macros

Access includes a Macro Designer to create macros to automate repetitive tasks.

Access Databases Can Be Automated with VBA

You can also automate Access by writing macros in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). Access is the only Microsoft Office program that offers two methods to design and run macros.

Users Can Interact with Access Databases using SQL

You can also interact with Microsoft Access using SQL (Structured Query Language). You have the option of writing queries in SQL or using the Query Design Grid. Newer versions of Access use SQL in the backend.

Access Has a Great Price Point and Is Included in Specific Microsoft Licences

Microsoft Access may be included with your other Microsoft programs, depending on licence (for example, a Microsoft Business licence may include Access). It can also be purchased as a standalone program at a low price point compared to alternative databases.

You can purchase Microsoft Access as part of the Microsoft 365 suite of appliations or as the standalone version.

Summary

Microsoft Access offers a low-cost, powerful solution for small to medium-sized businesses or teams in a large organization who need to create and manage a database. Because it can be automated in several ways and customized to the client or user’s needs, it can be used effectively in many scenarios.

Addiitonal Resources

Microsoft Access 2016, 2019 and 365 Maximum Limits and Specifications

Microsoft Access 2013 Maximum Limits and Specifications

Microsoft Access 2010 Maximum Limits and Specifications

Related

Microsoft Access DateAdd Function

How to Filter a Report on the Fly in Microsoft Access

10 Techniques for Designing Forms in Microsoft Access

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What is Microsoft Access and What is It Used For? Benefits of Using Access
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What is Microsoft Access and What is It Used For? Benefits of Using Access
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Microsoft Access is a relational database program and a typical database includes tables, queries, forms, and reports. With Microsoft Access, you can easily organize, store and retrieve data. There are several benefits or advantages to using Microsoft Access.
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