Key Microsoft Access Benefits That Make It a Good Database

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 15, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Microsoft (MS) Access is a useful tool for storing, referencing, and editing data. It provides various benefits over other database management systems, including cost-effectiveness and software development capabilities. Learning about the different benefits of MS Access can help you customize your database to reflect organizational needs. In this article, we discuss what MS Access is, list Microsoft Access benefits, share the steps to use it, and answer some of its common questions.

What is Microsoft Access?

Microsoft Access is a database management application from Microsoft that helps you store, reference, report, and analyze information. It's part of the Microsoft Office Suite of productivity apps that you get once you buy Office professional or higher versions, or you can buy it separately. MS Access enables you to store and analyze a large amount of data while minimizing errors, increasing productivity, and ensuring security and control. It also combines database management functionalities with a graphical user interface and software development tools, which makes it useful to software developers for creating applications.

Access works similarly to other relational database management systems. It enables you to store related data to create connections or relationships among them. For example, you can store the contact information of your colleagues, such as their names and e-mail addresses. After grouping their information, you can assign a unique identifier or key to each data piece, which you can use to reference the data group.

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6 key Microsoft Access benefits

Below are six Microsoft Access benefits that can help you customize your database and increase your productivity:

1. Requires little cost to develop and use

One reason for the popularity of Access as a database management system is its cost-effectiveness. Other database systems require a substantial amount of money to develop and maintain. Access is an affordable database that uses a drag-and-drop feature for low-budget campaigns. For example, if a company requires a database for a marketing campaign and can't afford an expensive architect, it may consider MS Access.

2. Is easy to install

Access is also a quick and easy-to-install database management system. While other Microsoft applications may require experts to help guide the installation process, you can easily install MS Access using the "Windows Desktop Wizard". The Wizard provides a guide on installing Access gradually and accessing its entire features.

3. Works with other MS office programs

MS Access is part of the MS Office Suite of productivity apps, and it's available in the professional or higher versions of the Microsoft plan. That means it integrates efficiently with Excel and Project. If you want to share insights with your team members from your reports, you can also easily attach them to your Outlook e-mail.

4. Allows data accessibility from other sources

Beyond Office Suite apps, other software manufacturers also include Access integration features into their products because of its popularity. Access primarily stores data using Jet SQL, but you can use stored data in other open database connectivity-compliant (ODBC) formats, such as Oracle and MySQL. The ODBC application programming interface (API) enables file accessibility in different common databases. It's typically independent of any database or operating system. Access allows you to work with different data formats without losing any information or creating a new format every time.

5. Facilitates data distribution

The Jet database format that Microsoft built Access on contains the application and the data. Having both the application and the data in one file enhances collaboration. You can easily distribute the file to various users who can quickly open it, even when there's no connection to the database. MS Access also assigns a unique identifier to every piece of data, which makes data input more accurate. This interface helps enhance the credibility of your data as a source for business insights and reports.

6. Supports app customization

App customization is another important benefit that MS Access provides. Access consists of a programming language, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), which allows you to customize basic functions for a more personalized and user-friendly interface. Besides basic customization, this programming language also enables you to develop personal applications, small business apps, corporate-wide applications, and web-based apps. This feature makes it preferable to software developers who can quickly develop and distribute computer programs with it.

How to use Microsoft Access

Using Access requires you to follow four simple steps, which are:

1. Create your database

Create your database and specify the type of data to input. There are three basic ways of creating a database in Access. You can create a blank database for local use, develop a web database for compatibility with Access's publishing tools, or select a template from pre-built databases for various uses. Create your database appropriately and name it.

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2. Input your data

After creating your database, insert the data you want to store. Access primarily stores data in tables, which look like the standard rows and columns in spreadsheet software. Create relationships between items in the database by assigning a unique identifier to each information. These relationships make Access a relational database management system and make querying easy.

3. Query the data

Querying a database means the process of retrieving information from it. You can display specific entries from multiple tables or create and update data with queries. To make querying effective, ensure you organize your data at the creation stage.

4. Use reports

Reports are useful for presenting the information in your database. You can use reports to display or distribute a data summary, archive snapshots of the data, provide details about individual records, or create labels. Reports also help you analyze data and receive the answers to specific questions, such as how much profit a business made or which of a business' products sold the most.

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FAQs about Microsoft Access

Below are the answers to some of the common questions people ask about the platform:

What's the difference between Access and Excel?

Access is a database management system, while Excel is spreadsheet software. While they share certain similarities, such as storing information in rows and columns, they have many differences. Excel is most useful for individuals and for performing brief calculations. It can only store a sizeable amount of data. With Access, you can store and manage vast quantities of data. Access also has software development tools and is useful for developing and distributing different types of applications.

Unlike Excel, where you enter data directly, Access uses pre-made forms for data entry. While you can also enter data directly into tables similar to a spreadsheet, developers prefer to use forms because there's a lesser chance for errors. Access also depends on queries to retrieve information in the database.

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What are the key elements of MS Access?

Access contains five basic elements, which are:

  • Tables: These contain rows and columns of data that you group together to show their similarity. You can have a flat database, which comprises tables of data with no relationship or a relational database.

  • Queries: Querying is a term that denotes how you retrieve the data in your database. Queries can be simple or sophisticated depending on the size of your database and its number of entries.

  • Relationships: Relationships or relational databases are data tables that you've linked through unique keys or identifiers that you assign to each. They make it easy to track different details, such as project data, shipping information, or the number of orders.

  • Reports: These are an optional feature of MS Access that allows you to present information in visually pleasing formats.

  • Forms: These are the primary way you enter data in Access. They allow you to minimize the chances of error in your data and enter it more quickly.

What applications can you build with the Access database?

You can build different types of applications with the platform to satisfy organizational needs. You can develop accounting, project management, inventory, and order management apps. Access also allows you to customize these apps to reflect organizational requirements. For instance, suppose a company observes that the spreadsheet software they use doesn't give them the required flexibility. Here, they may develop one with Access that contains the particular feature they need. Access also has a scalability feature that enables you to upgrade your database to an SQL server to support a growing database.

Please note that none of the companies, organizations, or institutions mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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