Category Archives: FAQ

What is the difference between Access and the Microsoft Access Runtime?

Unless you’re an Access developer, you’ve probably never used the Access Runtime before. Since our basic RDP hosting plan comes with only the runtime, we get a lot of questions about what the runtime is and how it is different from the version of Access on their computer and which remote desktop hosting plan would work best for their Access database.  Hopefully, this post will help steer you in the right direction.

What is the Access Runtime?

Microsoft describes the runtime as such, “The Microsoft Access Runtime enables you to distribute Access applications to users who do not have the full version of Access 2013 installed on their computers.”  It’s a free download from Microsoft as opposed to part of the expensive Office Professional suit that includes the full and powerful version of Access that Access developers have installed on their desktops.  It’s the equivalent of Adobe Reader – it lets you open PDFs and is free, but lacks many of the features found in Adobe Acrobat.  If you want to do anything of meaning in Access or if you’re an Access developer, you want the paid, full version of the program.  The runtime is intended to be used with already designed databases so data-entry and other users can simply open your database file and interact with your forms and access application.

I still don’t get it

Let’s take a closer look at the famous Northwind Traders database in the Access 2013 runtime and the full version of Access.

Northwind Traders in Access 2013 runtime

Northwind Traders in Access 2013 runtime

As you can see this complex database easily opens in the Access Runtime and gives you access to everything that was designed in the Access App: create new customers, view invoices, etc.  But you’ll notice that there is no Access ribbon and you cannot use the navigation and or see the database structure and design.  There are really no tools beyond what is built within the database.  I’m sure you can see the advantage of this type of security for Access developers.  The Access Runtime makes it impossible for a user to alter their application and they can even have limited access to the database and records themselves.

Northwind Traders in Access 2013 full version

Northwind Traders in Access 2013 full version

Here is the same database in the full version of Access 2013.  I have access to all of the tools in the ribbon.  I can create new forms, queries, reports or view the tables and records directly using the left sidebar navigation menu.  None of these features are available in the Access runtime.

The Access runtime only really has one menu that is included in every database – the file menu.

access runtime file menu

All this menu really lets you do is print the forms and reports that you are able to access in the secure stripped down version of the already developed Access database application. Conversely, the full version of Access lets you create new databases, edit and save databases, print and much more from it’s file menu:

the real access 2013 file menu

Hopefully this has helped you figure out what the Runtime is all about.  If the limited nature of the runtime works for you, then our $19 RDP hosting plan should work for you and your already developed Access database.  If you are more comfortable with the full paid version of Access installed on your computer, then you will want to go with our $29/month remote desktop hosting plan.

 

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PDF Printer installed on our RDP hosting solution

We have just installed CutePDF Writer on our Shared RDP hosting offering.  This will allow you to print any of your reports from Access 2010 to PDFs for easy download to your local computer or as an attachment/automated email from Outlook 2010.

To learn more about RDP hosting, visit: http://www.accesshosting.com/remote-desktop-hosting.asp

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Microsoft SQL Server Migration Assistant for Access v5.2

You can download Microsoft’s SQL Server Migration Assistant to help you easily move your Access database to our SQL 2012 backend hosting environment.  SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) v5.2 is freely available. SSMA simplifies database migration process from Oracle/Sybase/MySQL and Microsoft Access to SQL Server and SQL Azure. SSMA automates all aspects of migration including migration assessment analysis, schema and SQL statement conversion, data migration as well as migration testing to reduce cost and reduce risk of your database migration project. It’s a free download from Microsoft that can be found here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=28763

SQL Server Migration Assistant (SSMA) is a free supported tool from Microsoft that simplifies database migration process from Access to SQL Server. SSMA for Access automates conversion of Microsoft Access database objects to SQL Server database objects, loads the objects into SQL Server, and then migrates data from Microsoft Access to SQL Server.

SSMA for Access v5.2 is designed to support migration from Microsoft Access 97 and higher to all editions of SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2008 R2, SQL Server 2012, and SQL Azure.

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Access Hosting Remote Desktop FAQ

How can I load my Access database into the remote desktop session?

There are 2 ways to accomplish this. 1) Use a Copy/Paste from your local machine into the remote session 2) Look under the “Computer” icon in the remote session. You should see your local drive displayed

Can I have multiple concurrent users accessing the same database?

Sure – if you purchase more than one instance of the remote desktop we can provide a networks storage location that can be mapped as a Z: (or any other letter) drive and used for the backend of your Access Database. We charge a one-time non-recurring $99 setup fee to create this mapped shared drive.

How do I connect my Macintosh to the Access Application in the Remote Desktop?

The Microsoft Remote Desktop client for Macintosh OSX can be downloaded at no charge from http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads

How do I connect my iPhone, iPad, Android Phone, or Android tablet to the Access Application in the Remote Desktop?

We recommend purchasing www.jumpdesktop.com from the App Store to connect your iOS or Android devices to the remote desktop

How can I backup my Access database?

We recommend that you regularly copy your database from your remote session to your local computer for backups, but we also provide automated backup to Amazon S3 storage for $20/month.

Can I use a local printer?

Yes. Any printers that are locally attached via on LPT port are fully supported. Printers that are connected via your local network or USB are also supported but need to be mapped into a local LPT port before they are visible to the remote desktop session. The command to do this looks something like net use lpt3 \servernameprinter /persistent:yes. Do this before connecting to the remote session and the printer should be visible.

Can multiple users share a single remote desktop instance?

Yes, but only one user can be connected at a time. If your users connect at different times during the day they can share a single remote desktop instance.  You will want to purchase the maximum number of simultaneous concurrent users that you will need.

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FAQs about Remote Desktop Hosting

Our remote desktop option has become more and more popular, especially with traditional Access Developers that want to utilize the full power and robustness of the Access software, plugins, VBA code, and more!  Here are some frequently asked questions that we always receive regarding our RDP hosting:

How can I load my Access database into the remote desktop session?

There are 3 ways to accomplish this. 1) Use a Copy/Paste from your local machine into the remote session 2) Look under the “Computer” icon in the remote session. You should see your local drive displayed 3) Use a web based storage service like www.dropbox.com to transfer the files.

Can I have multiple concurrent users accessing the same database?

Sure – if you purchase more than one instance of the remote desktop we can provide a networks storage location that can be mapped as a Z: (or any other letter) drive and used for the backend of your Access Database.

How do I connect my Macintosh to the Access Application in the Remote Desktop?

The Microsoft Remote Desktop client for Macintosh OSX can be downloaded at no charge from http://www.microsoft.com/mac/downloads

How do I connect my iPhone and iPad to the Access Application in the Remote Desktop?

We recommend purchasing www.jumpdesktop.com from the App Store to connect your iOS devices to the remote desktop

How can I backup my Access database?

We recommend using a www.dropbox.com account and installing that into your desktop. You can then setup regular backups that move your information into the cloud.

Can I use a local printer?

Yes. Any printers that are locally attached via on LPT port are fully supported. Printers that are connected via your local network or USB are also supported but need to be mapped into a local LPT port before they are visible to the remote desktop session. The command to do this looks something like net use lpt3 \servernameprinter /persistent:yes. Do this before connecting to the remote session and the printer should be visible.

Can multiple users share a single remote desktop instance?

Yes, but only one user can be connected at a time. If your users connect at different times during the day they can share a single remote desktop instance.

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Access Hosting on Apple’s iPad

This video demonstrates how easy it is to use Access Hosting’s great SharePoint hosting service on your iPad.  Because of our SharePoint configuration, your Access 2010 Web Databases look great on Apple’s iPad.  You can easily navigate and use any web forms, queries, and reports right from your iPad’s touchscreen.  This video demonstrates logging into your Access Hosting SharePoint site, navigating SharePoint, loading a Contacts Web Database, and then navigating and using your Web Database:

  1. Open iPad’s Safari Browser
  2. Type in your SharePoint site URL into the Safari Browser
  3. Fill out the prompt with your Access Hosting Credentials
  4. Click login
  5. After you SharePoint site loads, click All Site Content in the left quick launch menu
  6. The iPad sometimes has issues with scrolling in SharePoint 2010, so you may need to click the View button ans select “Sites & Workspaces”
  7. Click on your desired Access Hosting Database
  8. Your start-up web form will load in the browser
  9. Viola! you can use your Database right on your iPad!
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Access Hosting on Android Phone Video

Here is a quick video demonstrating how Access Hosting’s Web Databases work on Android devices.  In this quick video, we are using our simple Web Contacts Database and running it on an HTC Droid Incredible from Verizon Wireless:

As mentioned in our previous post, the key is to have Firefox downloaded and installed on your Android Device.

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Access Hosting on Android Devices

A lot of people have been asking us about getting their Access Hosting Application and SharePoint 2010 site working on their Android Phone or Android Tablet.  Let me start off by saying that we have not tested every Android device out there (there are a lot), but we have been successful getting our own simple hosted web contacts database working on a variety of Android phones.

The key problem that people run into when using Android is that the default browser is not supported by Microsoft SharePoint and blocks the authentication prompt.  The fix is very simple.  Download the free Mozilla FireFox browser from the Android Marketplace. 

Mozilla FireFox is a fully supported browser by Microsoft for SharePoint 2010 and while every SharePoint feature may not work on the phone, you certainly can view all your Access web forms, reports, and queries.

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Important Tip: Queries and the size of your Access 2010 Web database

This blog post is a follow up to a very important post/question: How much SharePoint 2010 storage will my Access application consume ?

Unfortunately, there is still no way to figure out how much space your local Access 2010 database will take up on the web before it is published to SharePoint.  The good news is that after working with clients on this and their databases, I can tell you that queries are a big reason for the ballooning of the database file size.  The more queries that you have in a Database, the more your database will increase in size once it is published to Access Hosting and SharePoint 2010.

The best way to describe this problem is to give a real word example.  Recently a customer had a database that was about 40MB that they had built from scratch in Access 2010.  The Database and tables passed the web compatibility checker (BTW – Microsoft’s Checker doesn’t catch everything, but that’s a story for another post). The database had over 500 Queries.  This local  Access database  that was 40MB (under 10MB zipped) grew to be over 100MB after it was published to SharePoint.  It more than doubled in size and took over 10 minutes to upload!

Please take into account that Queries seem to massively increase the storage space needed on SharePoint.  The additional load times is also something to be weary of.  If you are making a database from scratch, the best thing to do is create a few forms, tables, and queries and then publish the site to Access Hosting.  The first publish takes the longest.  After you have the basics published and your database started, you can continue to develop your database.   As you work in Access to add new queries, tables and reports, all of these changes will be uploaded and synced to the server seamlessly.

TIP: Don’t build a huge complex database locally and then attempt one large (and long) publish

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How to Delete Your Published Access Web Database from SharePoint 2010

This short video will walk you through the steps necessary to remove a published database from SharePoint 2010. This process should be used with caution as the database, when removed completely, is no longer recoverable from the recycle bin.

Posted in FAQ, Subfeature, Tips & Tricks | 3 Comments

Access 2003 to 2010 Migration Guide Now Available

Microsoft has just released an excellent migration guide to help re-orient Access 2003 users with the updated toolbars, menu structure, and concepts behind Access 2010. This concise (8 page) document serves as a great jumping off  point for established Access users that are just getting their arms around Access 2010. As a followup to this document you may want to review the details behind our Access Database Migration Service, which brings your legacy table structure into a web legal SharePoint 2010 format.

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How much SharePoint 2010 storage will my Access application consume ?

We recently had a customer using our Developer Sandbox hosting plan run out of storage space as they published a web application to SharePoint. Further investigation of this problem uncovered a very interesting dilemma for Access Services developers: The size of the application on your local disk is typically much smaller than the size of your web application after it has been published to Access Services.

In this case, a 13 megabyte local Access application was exceeding a 25 megabyte storage quota after being published to SharePoint 2010. This raises the question: how do you tell how much space is your application is consuming on the server? Unfortunately, there is no magical command or menu option that will estimate the application size before publishing – but here are 2 techniques for determining how much storage your application is using AFTER it has been published to SharePoint:

Technique 1: Use the SharePoint 2010 Usage Analysis feature to determine how much space your site is using pre and post publish. The delta between the pre and post publish space consumption would then represent your published application size. The drawbacks to this approach are 1) It assumes that you are the only one adding content to the site collection while publishing your application. 2) SharePoint 2010 usage analysis is not real time and you will need to wait for the statistics to be updated before getting an accurate reading of the space consumed. SharePoint 2010 defaults to a 1X/day update for usage analysis so a 12-24 hour wait is typical. Here is a screencast that show exactly where to find the usage anaylsis information in SharePoint 2010.

Technique 2: If you have control of your SharePoint 2010 Server, you can use Powershell to figure this out:

1. Open PowerShell as administrator
2. If you didn’t open PowerShell via the “SharePoint Management Shell”, then snap-in:
Add-PSSnapIn Microsoft.SharePoint.PowerShell
3. Type Get-SPSite to show all SharePoint site collections in the farm
4. When he finds the one he wants, type $site = Get-SPSite –Id
5. Now the site in question is stored in a variable called $site. So just type $site.Usage.Storage and hit enter. The total space being consumed is shown down to the byte. If you want MB, then do $site.Usage.Storage / 1024 / 1024.

Hopefully this issue can be addressed in a future release of Access Services.

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