Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

The 5 Pitfalls of Windows Azure Hosting

Windows Azure is one of the pillars in the cloud-hosting market, and ranks second only to Amazon’s AWS cloud-hosting services. The company even announced in Q3 of 2016 that full government compliance was finally in order. However, for the average user not looking for enterprise solutions, it’s often still considered damaged goods.

Despite this, the pitfalls of Windows Azure hosting aren’t always obvious. For instance, many issues are only discovered later on, although the damage may be irreparable by then. Since this could set you up for failure, it’s important to know the drawbacks you’re likely to face.

Take a look below at five of the biggest issues facing Windows Azure hosting subscribers today.

1. More Bugs

With Azure, you will find that bugs become more plentiful with time. Eventually there will be a devastating issue that requires major technical support. If you’re not paying for support with your plan, you will be in for a big headache. The workarounds that Windows Azure Hosting clients receive are sub-par to say the least. Some users are even instructed to do hours of PowerShell scripting to repair the problem.

2. PowerShell Pains

The scripting interface simply isn’t very good. In fact, a simple online search of PowerShell problems will make it clear that many users are frustrated with it. Similar to how many people get into web development, but despise learning how to code in PHP, the steep learning curve and limited functionality of PowerShell are a big barrier. This can increase the time you spend managing your product. This shouldn’t be something you have to worry about.

3. Support Costs

You have to pay to upgrade and get developer support. This is brutal, as 24/7 expert support should be mandatory in any premium cloud-hosting package. Paying $29 or more a month just to have the help is not logical. However, horrific problems have plagued users in the past, which has made support a necessary cost. You don’t want this reliance.

4. Recurring Outages

Somehow, Azure has managed to face a number of outages in recent years. For example, the whole Azure DNS was wiped out multiple times this year. This resulted in a couple hours of downtime. One customer even had a full nine days of downtime, which is beyond unacceptable by any standard. On top of all that, Azure was recognized as having worse downtime problems than any other major provider. You want reliability if you pay for a big name. Unfortunately, you’re sometimes just buying the logo.

5. High Cost

In all reality, you’re going to end up paying for the developer upgrade support package to make sure everything runs safe. This exposes you to a significant increase in service costs. You’re better off getting from any hosting provider that offers support as an included feature. Why pay more when you don’t have to?

As you can see, there are quite a few problems that Azure hosting users face. From the limited scripting help to many bugs, and much more, most are left wishing for a simpler solution.

With the services we offer, you don’t have to worry, since scripting help is always there for you. Sometimes a smaller hosting provider is a good thing — kind of like how banking with a credit union can work in your favor. If you’re looking for the A-B-C approach, nothing could be simpler than our hosting plans.

Posted in Cloud Hosting Tips, Tips & Tricks, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How to delete files from Sharepoint (Empty the Recycle Bin)

View, restore, or delete items in the Recycle Bin of a SharePoint site

The Recycle Bin provides a safety net when deleting documents, list items, lists, folders and files. When you or site visitors delete any of these items from a Web site, the items are placed in the Recycle Bin.

Overview

Items in the Recycle Bin remain there until you decide to permanently delete them from your Web site, or until the items are permanently deleted after a set number of days, which is based on a schedule defined in Central Administration. When you delete an item from a Web site, the item is sent to the site’s Recycle Bin. If you click Recycle Bin on the Quick Launch, you can see all of the items that you’ve deleted from your site. You can either restore or delete the item from the Recycle Bin. When you delete an item from the Recycle Bin, the item is sent to the Site Collection Recycle Bin.

 

1. End-user deletes the Agenda document from a document library.

2. The document is moved to the Recycle Bin for the site, where people can restore it or delete it.

3. If the file is deleted from the site Recycle Bin, it is sent to the Site Collection Recycle Bin, where an administrator can restore it or delete it permanently.

The Site Collection Recycle Bin gives the administrator of a site collection greater control over deleted items by providing you with a second stage safety net before an item is permanently deleted from a site. By default, a second stage Recycle Bin stores items that you delete from your Recycle Bin. When you delete an item from your Recycle Bin, the item is sent to a second stage Recycle Bin that the administrator of the site collection manages.

The Recycle Bin is enabled in a site collection by default, and is configured in Central Administration at the site collection level. When enabled at this level, the central administrator can specify how long items remain in the Recycle Bin before the items are emptied. The central administrator can also disable the second stage Recycle Bin, or disable the Recycle Bin in a site collection altogether.

As a site collection administrator, you can view and manage deleted items across a site collection from the Site Collection Recycle Bin page. From this page, you can view items that are currently in a user’s Recycle Bin and items that a user has deleted from his or her Recycle Bin (which is the second stage Recycle Bin). Users who delete an item in the Recycle Bin can contact you to restore the item back to its original location as long as the item hasn’t exceeded the original deleted date that the central administrator set. By default, items in the Recycle Bin are deleted automatically after 30 days. Regardless of whether or not an item is sent to the users’ Recycle Bin or to the Site Collection Recycle Bin, items are deleted automatically after the number of days that the central administrator specified.

View items in the Recycle Bin

  1. On the top-level site, click the Site Actions menu (or the gear icon in newer versions of Sharepoint) , click Site Settings, then click Modify All Site Settings.

    NOTE: On a site for which the Site Actions menu is customized, point to Site Settings, and then click the settings that you want to view.

  2. On the Site Settings page, in the Site Collection Administration section, click Recycle bin.
  3. On the Site Collection Recycle Bin page, in the Select a View section, do one of the following:
    • To view items that the user has sent to the Recycle Bin, click End user Recycle Bin items.
    • To view items that the user has deleted from the Recycle Bin and has sent to the Site Collection Recycle Bin, click Deleted from end user Recycle Bin.

Delete items in the Recycle Bin

  1. On the top-level site, click the Site Actions menu (or gear icon), click Site Settings, then click Modify All Site Settings.

    NOTE: On a site for which the Site Actions menu is customized, point to Site Settings, and then click the settings that you want to view.

  2. On the Site Settings page, in the Site Collection Administration section, click Recycle bin.
  3. On the Site Collection Recycle Bin page, in the Select a View section, do one of the following:
    • To view items that the user has sent to the Recycle Bin, click End user Recycle Bin items.
    • To view items that the user has deleted from the Recycle Bin and sent to the Site Collection Recycle Bin, click Deleted from end user Recycle Bin.
  4. Select the check box next to the items that you want to delete. To select all of the items at once, select the check box next to Type.
  5. Click Delete Selection.

    NOTE: When you view items in End user Recycle Bin Items, the items that you delete are sent to Deleted from end user Recycle Bin.

Keep in mind that only the Site Collection administrator can permanently delete all of the files from the Recycle bin and free up the storage space.

Posted in Sharepoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, SharePoint 2016, Tips & Tricks, Tutorial | Leave a comment

Top 10 Reasons to Move Your Access Database to the Cloud

The cloud is a fast, convenient technology suitable for modern businesses and consumers. You simply get faster time to market. It’s not a surprise 90 percent of businesses already utilizing the cloud in some way.

If you haven’t already, consider moving your access database to the cloud. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should.  Remember that Access Hosting offers great web database hosting solutions for small businesses.

1. Unmatched Storage Flexibility

Most businesses have growing or changing needs, and they need data services with flexibility. Access Hosting’s Cloud capacity can easily be scaled up by drawing on other servers (or scaled down). With such capabilities, cloud computing has a distinct advantage. Perhaps that’s why IT experts rank “operational agility” as a top reason for increased cloud adoption.

2. Collaboration Capabilities

As companies move increasingly online, it’s vital for employees to still be able to collaborate on projects. Access Hosting’s private cloud provides users the ability to access, edit and share files from virtually anywhere — which helps increase productivity. For instance, if you choose to build an MS Access Web Database that integrates with Excel, you can secure and manage access to data, and choose what to share within the organization with our Windows Terminal Servers.

3. Lower Costs

Cloud computing takes out the cost of hardware, and most employ a pay-as-you-go or subscription-based model. While spending on cloud services is projected to reach $240 billion in 2017, services are getting cheaper and more efficient. That’s why large-scale adoption is taking place. Access Hosting has plans starting at only $19/month to get your database in the cloud.

4. Constant Worldwide Access

Think about this: Lost laptops cost companies tons of money, with estimates in the billions of dollars. If an employee is storing work just on his computer, that work is lost if something happens to the computer. If the work had been stored in the cloud, it would still  be accessible from another device – our RDP hosting plans even let you access and run your MS Access Database from iPad, iPhone, and Android devices.

5. Competitiveness

Moving your database to the cloud does many things to make you more competitive, from increasing team communication and productivity to reducing expenses. Furthermore, having all that data in one place gives decision-makers a comprehensive view of what’s happening, making it easier to dig through and choose directions that will benefit the business.

6. Strong Security

The cloud helps prepare businesses for disaster, as it is a timely data backup built to consistently ward off the latest cyber-security threats. If something like a server crash happens with your MS Access database, a dedicated IT team from your hosting service is already there to deal with the issue, and you’ll be running your business again in no time.

7. Instant Publication

The cloud is popular because of its ability to show changes and updates instantaneously. For example, if you are using MS Access and have chosen an efficient MS Access hosting service, you can publish data to SharePoint within minutes. This boosts team productivity and makes it easier to get new products and updates to your customers.

8. Automatic Updates

There are two main advantages to automatic updates from cloud computing providers: One, you save time, which saves your company money; and two, you don’t need to bring in an IT expert to install the update, which again saves you time and money. With most services, installing updates is very straightforward. If you use Quickbooks to handle accounting, for instance, updating is just a support ticket away.

9. Environmentally Friendly

Companies have a responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint. Cloud computing does use its fair share of energy, but it leaves less waste. According to a Scientific American report, consolidating documents on remote servers is more energy efficient than saving them on personal computers.

10. Easy Integration

Many employees may have trouble understanding the cloud, but most reliable providers do one thing well: They make it very user-friendly. Hence, moving your database to the cloud is usually a seamless process that doesn’t waste resources.

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How to Decrypt a MS Access Database

As a reminder, it is critical that you remember your password  — if you forget your password, there is no method by which it can be retrieved.

Step 1: Select the Microsoft access database file that you want to open and choose Open Exclusive.

Open encrypted access database

Step 2: Once you select the encrypted access database and are ready to open it in Microsoft Access. A dialog would pop up to ask for database open password.

Step 3: Type database password in Enter database password box. Click OK.

enter-password-to-open-access-database

Step 4: Remove a password from a database

When you remove a password from a database, you can restore it at any time (or replace it with another password) by repeating the steps in our post about How to Encrypt an Access Database.

Go to the File->Info section and select Decrypt Database.

decrypt ms access database online

After prompting you for the current password one last time, all encryption will be removed and your database will no longer require a password to open.

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How to Encrypt an Access Database

If you are using our Remote Desktop Hosting to host your database and you want increased security, you may want to consider protecting and encrypting your MS Access database with a password.  If you know the password for an encrypted database, you can also decrypt the database and remove its password. This article explains how to encrypt a database by using a database password, and how to decrypt a database and remove its password.

In earlier versions of Access, you could create user accounts and passwords using a feature called user-level security. This topic does not discuss user-level security, which is not available when you use the .accdb file format.

If you encrypt a database and then lose the password, you will be unable to use the database. You cannot remove a database password if you do not know the password. Access Hosting cannot recover or decrypt an Access Database on our servers without your database password.

How to Encrypt an MS Access Database File

This is a process of setting a password to encrypt access database, restricting access to Access database.

Step 1: When access database file is open in Microsoft Access, tab File > Info.

Encrypt Password location in Access 2010

Encrypt with Password location in Access 2010

Encrypt Access 2016 database

Encrypt with Password Location in Access 2016 is the same place

Step 2: Click Encrypt with Password button under the info tab for the database.

access-database-open-prompt-message

Sometimes, maybe you will receive a message to ask you to open the access database with Open Exclusive mode at first, otherwise you cannot encrypt database. When this happens, click OK and follow the prompting message.

Step 3: In Set Database Password dialog, enter a powerful complex password in the Password box and type it again in the Verify box. Click OK to finish MS access database encryption.encrypt-access-database-with-password

DO NOT FORGET THIS PASSWORD!

Remember that this is an optional and additional security feature for our Remote Desktop Hosting services and blocks access to your database even from our own support technicians.  If you forget this encryption password, Access Hosting cannot decrypt or restore your database.  If you have any further questions about this feature, please open a support ticket at http://support.accesshosting.com

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Microsoft Access Explained: Tables

Tables are the basic building blocks of any database. They are defined by a collection of rows and columns that separate the data into individual fields. When you open Microsoft Access for the first time it will give you a blank desktop and will automatically open a dummy table. The dummy table is simply a blank datasheet that will serve as the foundation for any database you will create.

After values of a few key fields are entered, you should be ready to begin to input data as short text or number values and create a basic datasheet.

When working in Microsoft Access there are three views from which to manipulate the information in the tables that make up your database: form view, layout view, and design view. To change views simply click on the view command in the ribbon and select your view from the drop down menu.

Form view is ideal for entering or updating information, while layout view will give you a clear overview of all the information currently entered in the table. Design view is slightly more advanced, and will allow you to restrict the data in certain fields by adjusting the properties and datatype or renaming a field.

Designing your own table from scratch may be helpful in certain situations, but don’t forget to check out the pre-loaded table templates that the Access software provides to help save valuable time and gain a better understanding of how to build your own tables with design view.

To begin creating a new table the first step is to change the field names. In design view and you can define the parameters of the table by labeling specific fields with a name and matching them with the appropriate datatype from the dropdown menu on the right. There are many different choices for datatype but most likely it will either be a number, which appears as a long integer, or short text.

You may also notice that an ID field is automatically entered to correspond with each entry. This is a number that is automatically given to each specific field to stand as its unique identifier.

Although it is an option, you should never remove the ID field. The specific identifiers may never be seen by users interacting with your database but they are essential when building more complex relationships between databases.

Take notice of the primary key command in the top left of the ribbon. Be sure that the primary key is set to the ID field so that each field can be independently identified and always unique.

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Microsoft Access Explained: What is a database?

A database is any collection of files and records, gathered with a particular purpose in mind. Think about all the information that your business records in a given day. Information on customers, employees, sales and accounting are only a few of the most essential databases a business would need to build to thrive in a modern economy.

The basic building block of any database are tables, or a collection of rows and columns that separate the data into individual fields. These datasheets make up a basic desktop database.

Microsoft Access is some of the most advanced relational database management software available to the public. It allows you to take basic database capabilities to the next level by incorporating tools, which allow users to build relationships across multiple databases.

The navigation pane to the left of the main window in Microsoft Access will display all the objects in you current database. Using the navigation pane will allow you to move between different forms, tables, reports and queries you have incorporated within your relational database.

It’s important to have a basic understanding of databases so that you are able to communicates about any issues you may be having or hand down tasks to subordinates who maybe using Microsoft Access for the first time.

Check back in with the Access Hosting blog for more explanations the basics of Microsoft Access, and of course don’t forget about Access Hosting customer service for additional questions about database basics or other issues.

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3 Quick Ways to Verify the Integrity of Your MS Access Database

Many businesses rely on Microsoft Access to make critical decisions about their operations, from customer service production to lead and order management. The integrity of your online database, in terms of quality and security, is critical to the overall benefit that MS Access provides. For instance, if the information entered contains errors or referential data is missing, any queries or reports generated will contain issues.

For this reason, businesses must find ways to monitor the quality and security of their MS Access database. Here are three quick and easy ways to check MS Access database integrity today.

1. Check Places With Common Errors

First, it is worthwhile to review the quality and functionality for areas of the MS Access database that are liable to face issues from human error. By focusing on places and fields most likely to encounter errors, administrators can more easily and regularly check for potential issues that compromise database integrity. One of the features that most commonly faces integrity issues is anywhere referential data is used, since these data segments can allow one error to multiply and cause other issues.

For instance, in an MS Access database that is tracking active customer orders, a small mistake could have been entered in the client’s mailing address. If this information remains uncorrected, future product shipments and promotional mailings will fail to reach this customer. Furthermore, all data points and reports generated from this mistake will be inaccurate. This includes the conversion rates for marketing promotions, the number of customers who call to check on their order, and the demographic and location breakdowns of customer geographies.

2. Utilize Strategies to Secure Your Database

The overall security posture of your database dictates its integrity. Without a thoroughly secured database, the data contained within can be corrupted or accessible by others. There are three strategies that most MS Access users can deploy to better secure the database.

  • First, reset settings using an AutoExec macro. You can accomplish this by naming a new macro AutoExec. This will check and reset the security properties that the last work session may have changed.
  • Second, local databases should remain password protected to prevent unauthorized access. Anytime a user is terminated, a new password should be chosen. Enable your MS Access database password by visiting the security section from the tools menu inside of MS Access. Select the option to “set database password” and enter your new password.
  • Third, consider the security of the database itself. If some of the information needs to be accessible to only certain users, split the database using the Database Splitter feature to limit who has access. Remember that split databases don’t work with Sharepoint but are are compatible with our RDP hosting solution.

3. Verify Quality of Backups

No matter what internal policies and procedures are used to secure a database, something could potentially always happen. This is why it is critical to never assume that backups are completed correctly and that they are accessible. For this reason, one quick way to monitor the integrity of the MS Access database is to check on the quality and existence of backups. This is even true for those using a SharePoint app to host their database and make it accessible to other users. Double coverage is never problematic and may prevent major disruptions from occurring in the production environment.

MS Access databases can be powerful tools for business. They offer a streamlined way to manage and report on the data that businesses rely on. However, just like any other technology or resource, they can be prone to challenges if not properly maintained and tested. Using these three quick tips is a great way to start checking the integrity of your database. Once these tips are part of your regular maintenance routine, feel free to explore additional ways across this site to improve upon your business’s understanding and usage of the great tools that MS Access databases offer.

Posted in Access 2007, Access 2010, Access 2013, Access 2016, Tips & Tricks | Leave a comment

Microsoft Access Explained: The Ribbon

access ribbon

The ribbon is a Quick Access Toolbar shown at the  top of the Microsoft Access main screen. The ribbon contains some of the most widely used commands in Microsoft Access, and is divided into three main sections: tabs, groups and buttons or commands.

You may notice in small black lettering at the base of the ribbon each of the six main tabs are broken down into small groups. Have a look at these group names to assist you in finding the command you are trying to execute. Enabled commands are shown in black or full-color while other commands are greyed out. That is because these are contextual commands that are not always applicable to what you are trying to do. If the command you are looking for is grayed out be sure that you have the appropriate field or object selected.

Similarly, there are contextual tabs that only appear in certain view modes, and contextual menus with their own lists of commands hidden within certain parts of the ribbon. To access the contextual menus simply right click and a drop-down menu will appear next to your mouse cursor.

After you have familiarized yourself with the many functions of the ribbon you may like to take a look at the contextual drop-down menu by right clicking on one of the tabs. From there you can minimize the ribbon to give yourself more space to work in your main window or customize the ribbon to include the commands that you are using for a specific task.

Customizing the ribbon can save you precious time and improve your efficiency when doing repetitive tasks specific to the database you happen to be working on. Simply right click on the ribbon, click the “customize ribbon” command, and select “add new tab” from the menu screen. From there you’ll be given a list of all the commands Microsoft Access has to offer and you can add your most used or favorite commands into your own specialized tab. When you close out of the menu your new tab will appear on the ribbon next to the others.

If you enjoyed this explanation, don’t forget to check back in with Access Hosting for more helpful hints about operating the Microsoft Access software.

Posted in Access 2010, Access 2013, Access 2016, Beginners Guide, Tips & Tricks | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

MS Access: How to Create Query Joins

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The foundation for any database software, like MS Access, is the ability to send a query. Organizing information and making it accessible on demand is what makes database software so powerful. Understanding how to craft queries can be challenging at first, but once you understand how to use select, action, parameter and aggregate queries, then you’re on your way to expertise. For truly complex queries and more complete data sets, you need to understand what query joins are, what they do and how they work.

Types of Queries

When working with an online database, there are four basic types of query joins: inner, left, right and full. These descriptors tell you where the web database is looking for the requested information.

  • Inner – An inner-query join allows you to search both tables and get results that match the query from either of the tables.
  • Left – A left-query join returns results that match the query from the left table and all matching rows from the right table.
  • Right – A right-query join works the same as the left join, but it uses the right table as the starting point.
  • Full – A full-query join returns any results where there is a match in one of the tables.

Exploring the “Join Properties” Dialog Box

When creating join queries, you must first create joins between tables and relationships between fields. When the “Join Properties” dialog box pops up in the Access web app, you will see three sets of options:

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First, you will need to select the left and right tables you want to join. There will be a drop-down list with all of the available tables. Designate the first one you want to work with as the left table and the second as the right table.

Query_Join

Next, you will need to select the columns to look at for each query. This allows the database on the web to only search for information in relation to those columns. There will be a drop-down list with all of the column names available. Select the column on the left and right tables you will be working with.

At the bottom of the dialog box are three options. These options are for creating a left, right or inner query. Select the type of query you want to use and move on to creating output fields.

Using join queries effectively allows you to do things like segment your mailing list for targeted marketing, find customer accounts more quickly and accurately, build customized reports and more.

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How to connect to your Access Web App

If you are using our Sharepoint 2010/2013 Enterprise Solution with Access Services you have the ability to publish your web database to Access Services 2010 or create an Access 2013 Web App in Sharepoint. The problem with SharePoint 2013 Web Apps is that you cannot create and run reports on your data in the browser (like in 2010). The solution is to create a desktop Access frontend that connects to your webapp’s data.  Here is how you connect to your MS Access 2013 Web App with Access Hosting.

How to Report on your Access Web App from MS Access:

1. Go to your Web App in Sharepoint (on accessontheweb.com) and click the “customize in Access” button to download an accdw file.

2. Open and log into your web app by opening the accdw file downloaded from your Access Hosting Sharepoint site.

3. Go to File->Connections (be sure that Read-Only Connection is checked) and click on Manage->View Read-Only Connection information.  Make a note of all the connection data.

readonly connection

4. Be sure to record all of the data shown in this connection information

sql server connection information

5. Under Report on My Data, click the create reports button

connectSP1

6. This will prompt you to create a new access frontend file.  Name the file and save.

7. The connection will fail because the server name is not a valid web location – so you will be prompted for the SQL connection information.  Change ahcombo1 to your Sharepoint site collection url WITHOUT http:// (i.e. example.accessontheweb.com)

frontend

8. A new access file should open that acts as you frontend to your Access 2013 Web App.  You can use this frontend to create reports and other frontend forms and tools!

Sign-up for a Free Sharepoint Access 2013 Web App Trial to try it yourself!

Connecting to your Access Web App with SQL Management Studio:

You can use the power of MS Access Services 2013 and Sharepoint to connect to your backend MS Access Web App directly using SQL Server Management Studio.  Watch the video above or try the more detailed steps outlined below for an ODBC connection.

1. Go to your Web App in Sharepoint (on accessontheweb.com) and click the “customize in Access” button to download an accdw file.

2. Open and log into your web app by opening the accdw file downloaded from your Access Hosting Sharepoint site.

3.  Under Connections, Click Manage and Select Enable Read-Write Permissions. (Note – If you select Enable Read Write Permissions again, you will disable Read-Write Permissions. When you turn on Read Write Permissions again in the future, the password will change.)

access view read-write connection

4.  Once Read-Write Permissions are Enabled, click the Manage button again and select View Read-Write Connection Information and the below dialog box will pop up. You will need to reference the permissions below to setup the ODBC connection.  Note the connection information and copy over to notepad.

password info

5. If you don’t already have SQL Native Client 11.0 Driver, you’ll need to download and install them.  Install and SQL Native Client 11.0 driver from Microsoft SQL Server 2012 SP1 Feature Pack. Don’t download the entire package, you only need on file which is the sqlncli.msi. You can download the file here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35580.

6. Once downloaded, double click the file to install the SQL Native Client 11.0 driver.

7. To create the ODBC connection, launch ODBC Data Source Administrator by clicking your Windows start button and search for ODBC.  Select the Data Sources (ODBC) file that comes up.

add a new odbc data source

8. Click on Add to create a new data source.  Select SQL Server Native Client 11.0 and then click finish.

create a new sql data source

9. Enter Any Name and Description to describe your ODBC connection. For the Server enter the domain of your Access Hosting SharePoint site but DO NOT enter the http:// (so enter something like example.accessontheweb.com). Click Next.

ms web database information

10. Reference the View Read-Write Connection data that you pasted into Notepad from your Access Web App earlier.  Enter the User Name information in the Login ID and the Password in the Password field and click next.

sql server dsn configuration

11. Check the box Change the default database to and enter the Database Name from the View Read-Write Connection Information from your Web App and click next. Click Finish.

sql server 2012 configuration

Sign-up for a Free Sharepoint Access 2013 Web App Trial to try it yourself!

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The Top 10 Reasons to Split an Access database

Splitting your Access database offers numerous advantages, including increased flexibility, security, efficiency, and scalability.

Access is an amazing and powerful desktop application that lets you store data and interface with that data in the same file. You can even design your own applications with Access.  Unfortunately, the only way to utilize the full power of MS Access  is to develop traditional local desktop based applications.  Luckily, you can take your powerful MS Access applications with split frontend and backend to the cloud with Access Hosting’s Remote Desktop Hosting.

Most developers agree that a split database is easier to protect and maintain but unfortunately this powerful approach is completely incompatible with SharePoint.  When you split an Access database file, you end up with two files instead of just one (often the backend is an .mdb file):

  • The backend stores all of the data in relational table (you can always move the backend to SQL for even more power and accessibility)
  • The front end stores all of your interface objects: forms, reports, queries etc.
  • By linking the two files, users can view and manipulate the data in the backend via the forms and reports in the front end. This arrangement solves a number of problems inherent to the Access file structure.

Now onto the top 10 reasons to split a Microsoft Access Database:

1: Multiple users share the data
Perhaps the biggest incentive for splitting a database is to supply data to multiple users over a local network or on the cloud via Access Hosting. By storing the backend on a local file server, SQL or other cloud based solution and distributing the front end to workstations and users, many users can access and manipulate the data at the same time without running into record locking and other problems.

2: Everyone’s using the same data at the same time
By splitting a database, you know that all users are accessing the most current data because everyone’s accessing the SAME data. Not only are they all accessing the same data, they can all update it at the same time. That means a change made by one user is almost immediately available to all other users.

Having a backend moves all the data into a single database file (.mdb) or backend ODBC connection (SQL, mySQL etc). That means there’s only one copy of that data to manage and protect. Changes are immediate and available to all authorized users. Any administrative and development duties are implemented in the backend file, once.

3: Your data is better protected
Whole books have been written on database security, but it’s enough for you to know that you must protect your data. One of the easiest ways is to split your database. Placing your tables in a backend file protects your database design because users can’t directly access the tables via the interface objects in the front end.  Therefore, they can’t alter or delete tables, even accidentally. Most of the users working in the front end won’t realize they’re actually working with two separate files, so splitting the database will have NO Negative impact on your users.

However, this arrangement is not a comprehensive security lock on design. Users who know what they’re doing can still open the backend, if they have access to it. Just bear in mind that splitting the database will minimize accidents — but it won’t stop someone who’s determined to get at your tables.

If security is a of utmost importance, Access Hosting’s Remote Desktop hosting adds an additional layer of security – requiring users to login to the MS Access frontend.  Users don’t even need to have Access installed on their computer!  We even offer HIPAA compliant dedicated server solutions for healthcare and medical data.  Moving your data to a SQL backend also adds additional security and features to an Access application.

4: You can easily scale your application for the future
If there’s any chance that your Access database will grow out of its skin, consider splitting the database. It’s easier to upsize a split database to SQL Server (or some other larger relational database system) because you can easily link the existing front end to SQL Server tables. That way, the organization has the advantage of storing data in a larger database with most of the perks that come with doing so, while still using the interface and all of the reports and queries that you originally designed in the Access front end.

5:  The user interface is easy to modify
Most databases grow and change with the business; they require new features or modified business rules. Changes to existing tables are rare, if you properly normalized them early on. Most changes will be in the front end in the form of new or modified forms and reports.

As long as your database is split, testing and implementing changes to the front end can occur with little or no disruption to users. You simply link the development front end to the production backend and test away. This won’t always be the case, of course, but testing new interface objects is easier in a split database configuration.

6: Deploying a new front end is a snap
If the user interface and data are stored in the same database, you must REPLACE the entire database EVERY time changes are made in a local environment.  With our RDP solution, you can keep your database and app contained all in one file and more easily replace them on our server in 1 location, but it’s still not ideal.  That’s a lot of unnecessary work and is especially problematic if no one in-house has the expertise to do it for you or if you have to visit each user’s workstation.

In a split database configuration, you simply replace the front-end ms access file and relink the tables. It takes a few minutes and requires little interruption of users.  With our RDP solution, you can even login and do this for every user to completely eliminate any application support issues.

7: It makes life easier for offsite developers
A split database is easier for offsite developers to maintain and upgrade. The developer works offsite to implement changes and enhancements to the front end and then ships the new version to someone in-house (or uploads it directly) who has the technical expertise to deploy it. This latter process is a simple copy and relinking task that doesn’t require high-end expertise. You can train someone to do it or even talk someone through it over the phone. Many developers write a routine that automates the process. All the in-house technician has to do is double-click the installation file. This opens up a lot of long distance opportunities that a developer just couldn’t manage as easily with a single database file.  Access Developers out there should interested in making their lives easier and moving their clients to a cloud based hosting solution should contact us about our Partner and Referral program.

8: Geography’s not a problem
A split database allows users in different locations to access the same data. For example, the backend could be stored on our servers in our SAS70 data center in Philadelphia, but users from all over the country can access the data via their local systems connected to a SQL backend.

9: Corruption is limited
Access databases are prone to corruption. One of the easiest ways to avoid this problem is to implement a split database, which is less prone to corruption.  Nothing is worse than having a user corrupt your backend data!

10: It’s easier to get individual users back on track
Security in the front end is one way to limit user interference. However, some users require more flexibility than others and there are always trade-offs. Some applications will require tight front-end security, while others will allow more freedom to tinker.

When a user tinkers to the point of destruction, a split database is easier to repair. Rather than bringing the entire application and all its users to a screeching halt, you have only one user who’s unable to work, momentarily because they broke their specific Access frontend and not the entire application. The fix is usually as simple as recopying the front end and overwriting the changes that the person made.

I hope this was helpful to people who have an Access application at their business.  If anyone is looking to learn more about our Remote Desktop and or SQL backend hosting options, please do not hesitate to contact us or sign up for a free trial to try it for yourself.

Posted in Access 2003, Access 2007, Access 2010, Access 2013, Remote Desktop, Remote Desktop Hosting, SQL Hosting, Tips & Tricks | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

How to send email with Access without using Outlook

Building an Access database provides many benefits because it not only gives users an easy way to manage their data, but Access can also be used to manipulate external applications through code. One of those extremely helpful benefits is its ability to send out an email message. Access is not an email client, so it doesn’t really send out the email message itself. Instead, it can be used to automate external email client programs, such as Outlook, to actually send out the message on its behalf. But what if Outlook is not installed on the user’s computer? Normally, that is not a problem as long as the user has an email client installed on the machine. The SendObject method or the EmailDatabaseObject macro action will try to use whatever email client is installed as the default to send out the message. This article will address those situations where the user does not have any email client installed or if bypassing the security warning in Outlook is desired. (more…)

Posted in Access 2007, Access 2010, Access 2013, Tips & Tricks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Compacting your MS Access Database

As files are deleted over time, the space within your access database file can become fragmented. This will result in your database growing to a much larger file size than it needs to be. Regularly compacting your MS Access Database is a great way to improve the performance of your database and reduce the file size.

**Important** Make sure no other users are currently accessing the database!

Access 2010:

You can compact the database you currently have open by clicking File > Compact & Repair Database on the info tab in Backstage view.

Access 2013:

To compact the database you currently have open, click Database Tools > Compact & Repair Database

compact_2013

Pro Tip

How to compact your database when you close it

You can tell MS Access to compact the database each time you close it.

Open your database > Click the FILE tab  > Click OPTIONS > Select the Current Database category > Select the Compact On Close checkbox under Application Options.

Note: If multiple users are sharing the same database, Access compacts the database when the last user closes it.

compactonclose

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Web Reporting with Access 2013 Web Apps on Office 365

We are happy to report that our Remote Desktop hosting can be configured to connect to Office 365 to use Access to report on your Access 2013 web apps.  Our Remote Desktop hosting allows you to use the power of Office 365 as your backend and then you can use our HTML5 PowerRDP technology to get around Office 365’s inability to render Access 2013 reports in the web browser.  This is a great way to get more out of your Office 365 subscription with MS Access 2013.  If you already have a $29/month Access 2013 Pro or Office Pro plan, you should be able to follow the quick tutorial below to start building web reports for Access 2013 web apps.

Step 1: Open your Access Web App in MS Access 2013

reporting-office365-msaccess13-1

Login to Office 365 and Navigate to your Access Web App.  Click the customize in Access button to download the Access 2013 .accdw file and open it in Access 2013.

Step 2: Report on your Access Data

report-on-my-data-office365-msaccess13

Navigate to the Info tab of your Access 2013 web app file (accdw) and select the “Report on my Data” button to create an Access frontend that can report on your Office 365 / SharePoint 2013 backend.

Step 3: Create Reports in your Access Frontend

reporting-office365-msaccess13-2

Now that you are using linked tables to connect to Office 365 and your SharePoint 2013 Access Web App, you can take advantage of all the features of the full version of the Access 2013 desktop client.  Create and design your reports, forms and queries.  Remember to close and save all reports and save your Access frontend file on the Remote Desktop.

Step 4: Reporting now works on Office 365

reporting-office365-msaccess13-3

Now your reports are connected to Office 365 and accessible from any machine, tablet, device and web browser via our Remote Desktop hosting!

Posted in Access 2013, Office 365, Tips & Tricks | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Access 2013, Access Runtime, FAQ, Tips & Tricks | 5 Comments

Running MS Access Applications on an Android Kindle Fire

Running your Access application on the Kindle Fire can be accomplished in just a few simple steps.

img_52b899958a37e

Here’s what to do:

1. Download the Microsoft Remote Desktop APK and move it over to the Kindle Fire via USB or emailing it to yourself. Note that this is a zip file and you will need to unzip it before moving it over.

2. Change your default Android Kindle settings to allow This is known as “sideloading” your application into Android. You may need to setup the Kindle to accept unknown applicaitons first by doing this:

Fire Settings

Click your settings tab

Fire Applications

Navigate to Applications

Fire Settings 2

and allow applications to be installed from unknown sources (set to On)

3. Install the Microsoft Remote Desktop application to your Kindle.  You can do this by navigating to your Downloads folder (if you emailed it to yourself) or the folder that you placed it in via your USB connection.  We’ve found the free ES File Explorer app to be incredible helpful way to browse your Kindle’s Harddrive.

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3. Pin the newly installed Microsoft Remote Desktop application to your home screen

new RDP

4. Configure the Remote Desktop Connection. If you are using our Remote Desktop Hosting Service  this information will be provided via email.

rdp config

5. Connect the Remote Desktop and run your Access application. Our Remote Desktop Hosting Service is available for Access 2007/2010/2013 and the Access 2010/2013 Runtime

This new version of the Remote Desktop client supports all of the Kindle gestures and features easy to navigate keyboard and mouse touch screen equivalents. Your users will find that the Access .mdb and .accdb applications they know and love work just fine on the Android Kindle Fire Tablet.

 

 

Posted in Access 2003, Access 2007, Access 2010, Access 2013, Access on the Kindle, Remote Desktop, Remote Desktop Hosting, Tips & Tricks, Video Tutorial | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Access 2013 Tip Of The Week

This short video shows you how to expose all of the web database templates available for Access 2013. Works on Office 365 and hosted implementations of Access Services 2013.



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Suppress Multiple Authentication Prompts when using Access 2013 Web Databases

Here is a short video that shows how to configure Internet Explorer so that hosted Access Web Databases do not require multiple logons to the SharePoint 2013 site collection. If you are getting repeated requests to logon to your SharePoint 2013 site while working with Access 2013 this video is for you.

Posted in Access 2013, Tips & Tricks, Video Tutorial | Leave a comment

Cross-Post from AccessExperts Blog

We have partnered with the Access Experts to offer our SQL 2012 Hosting Service. Check out this video tutorial on some advanced code techniques that would be compatible with our SQL or RDP hosting:


Learn advanced techniques on Microsoft TempVars, Enums and Classes. Presented by AccessExperts.net, Access Experts specializes in creating Access applications for clients in the US and Canada.

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