#1: It’s cheap

Access is a desktop database basically somewhere between Excel and SQL Server. It may be on all your PCs already. Client-server databases, such as SQL Server and Oracle, require specific hardware and expensive licensing. After the project is up and running, a client-server database needs a dedicated administrator. Access requires none of that.

However, Access is a desktop application. That means that everyone who uses the application needs Access installed on their local system. All those copies of Access can be expensive. However CDE can easily and quickly turn your database into a runtime application which does not require Access.

#2: It’s easy

Anybody with just a bit of time and reasonable IT skills can learn to use Access. It doesn’t take weeks of classroom instruction and then months of mentored on-the-job training to acquire the skills necessary to create and administer a database. The casual user with no professional database or development skills can get data into an Access database and then manipulate that data easily.

#3: Development costs less

In general, development of Access databases is cheaper than SQL Server or MySQL.

However, don’t let money be the only consideration. The security model is minimal. Access shouldn’t be used for most mission-critical applications or where security / confidentiality is paramount.

#4: It’s easy to upsize once it grows

If you need to move to SQL Server for speed, size, security or other reasons, you don’t have to start from scratch. Converting from Access to SQL Server has a few pitfalls and gotchas, but is usually simple if the Access database has been designed carefully in the first place.

#5: It’s a one-time thing

Not every custom database has a long shelf life. Sometimes it’s purpose is timed. For instance, generating, collecting, and analysing questionnaire data can be a big job, even for Access, but a single questionnaire has a limited lifespan. If you’re going to use a database once, or for only a short time, use Access if possible.

#6: It can provide a quick fix

The best solution for your needs might be a powerful client-server database such as SQL Server. However, while you’re waiting how’s the work being done? You can use Access as a quick fix until the more robust version is ready. You’ll have to compromise, because if you really need SQL Server, you’re not going to get the same work done in Access. But you might get portions of the work done.

#7: Flexibility?

Access is flexible, and that’s one of its best attributes. Even if you can put a custom database together in a matter of weeks, needs are likely to change. If the database is designed well in the first place, Access will handle enhancements and changes easily.

#8: It talks to Office

Access is part of the Microsoft Office suite, so it interacts seamlessly with the other familiar Office applications. Users can quickly and easily export data from or import data into Excel or publish reports to Word. In addition, it shares a similar interface with other Office apps, which helps new users feel more at home and diminishes the learning curve.

#9: On the other hand

Access up to 2010 isn’t really optimised for the Web. It can be done, but in general, it just isn’t a good idea.