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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):
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.
Access Hosting is proud to announce Managed Windows Dedicated Server Hosting for Windows Server 2012 and 2008 R2. Access Hosting offers the latest Hyper–V virtual dedicated servers based on Windows Server 2012. Now your virtual machine can be more powerful and resilient, and include incredible limits for processors, memory and storage. Each virtual dedicated server performs like a stand-alone physical server. Hosting plans are entirely customizable to your business needs, so please check out this link to learn more about Windows Server 2012 hosting or fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you with a pricing quote.
We have been getting tons of requests from Access developers and DBAs about SQL Server 2012 (previously known as “Denali”) that need multiple databases and other more robust SQL 2012 options. Today we are pleased to announce the availability of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Web Edition for $199/month.
This is the latest installment of Microsoft’s popular database and it includes a number of improvements over previous versions. New improvements SQL 2012 include AlwaysOn for higher availability, Contained Databases to improve on some of the authentication challenges associated with moving databases and FileTables for those apps that manage unstructured data that lives as files outside of the database.
Of course the big advantage of this plan to Access Developers is the ability to create an unlimited number of tables, databases and SQL user logins so that you can manage multiple clients, databases, projects and Access applications from the same secure cloud-based location. If you have any further questions, please check out our SQL 2012 webpage and feel free to chat online with a sales representative or contact us via email.
One of the most important changes with Access 2013 and their new web apps is in the architecture itself.
In SharePoint 2010, Access Web Services was storing everything in SharePoint (and then SharePoint’s content was backed up by SQL). Access 2013 apps are hosted by SharePoint 2013 while the data is stored in SQL Server 2012. SharePoint 2013 provides authentication, authorization, and security for Access 2013 apps. The back-end tables, views, macros, and queries are stored in an SQL Server 2012 database. This change in architecture reflects a substantial change in the way Access Services works.
You will notice that SQL stores tables, views, macros and queries but there’s no mention about reporting. That is because Access 2013 Web Apps do not allow you to create traditional Access reports. The only way to do reporting is by connecting the local Access software program to the SQL tables directly or using some other compatible reporting software tool.
There are a lot of advantages of using Access 2013 with SharePoint 2013, but it is important for Access Developer to note the following:
Access Hosting is committed to supporting the Access Developer community and will continue to offer SharePoint 2010 Access Web Services hosting for as long as developers are interested. SharePoint 2013 Access Web apps do have a ton of advantages, and we have launched our brand new Access 2013 SharePoint 2013 hosting packages. If you are interested in a free trial, please sign-up here.
We don’t just offer SharePoint hosting either. We have great ways for every Access Developer and Access application to be hosted in the cloud whether it’s through SharePoint, SQL Server or our RDP solution which lets you host any Access 2007, 2010 or 2013 application without ANY modifications. It supports VBA code too.
We are happy to announce that all of our existing SQL 2012 server customers (and any new SQL customers) now have 10 times more storage with our basic plan. Our basic SQL 2012 Server hosting comes with 10 GB of storage space. This package is perfect for enterprise level Access Databases that need to have their data tables securely hosted in the reliable SQL database environment. This package has been priced to be incredibly competitive with Windows Azure and unlike Azure has no bandwidth limits/surcharges. It’s simply 10GB of SQL 2012 Server Storage and hosting for $49/month.
Now is a great time to give our SQL 2012 Server Hosting with our free 30 day trial.
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:
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.