Microsoft Access is a desktop database system that has been developed by Microsoft with small businesses in mind and can be used to create and manage small-scale standalone databases as well as the database backend for small ASP websites. Not many comparisons can be drawn between Microsoft Access and its bigger brother SQL Server because both database systems are targeting two different markets; whereas SQL Server is aimed at larger businesses that store all of their mission critical data on database systems and require scalability to ensure that they never face stability issues, Microsoft Access is aimed at smaller businesses that aren’t going to have the need for a scalable database system and are only looking at using an Access database as part of a small implementation. As is the case with SQL Server databases, in order to make the most of your Access databases in a web hosting environment you will need to choose a Windows web hosting plan for your needs as Access databases can only function in a Windows environment; this can be a disadvantage to some extent because it means that you will have to pay out more for a web hosting plan that will suit your needs. For businesses that are looking to develop small-scale websites and web applications using ASP.NET then Microsoft Access will make the perfect database accompaniment as it will allow you to cut development times, but will allow you to create a final result that will function professionally and will be able to keep your data safe and secure.
What are the benefits of using Microsoft Access?
As Microsoft Access is a desktop database system it can have many benefits to offer to beginners before they move on to using more powerful systems such as Microsoft SQL Server; some of these benefits include:
- Desktop system – the fact that Microsoft Access is a desktop database system makes it easier to use in some cases because you are able to manage databases locally without the need for a direct internet connection to a server because the file is the database, rather than the database being served through a server service – with Microsoft Access you can download a database from your web space and make the amendments to it that you see as being necessary and then upload the database to your web space again, allowing you to keep a back-up copy of your database on your desktop so in the event that the server that your website is hosted on crashes, you will be able to recover your database and data easily
- Cheap to implement – compared to a Microsoft SQL Server-based system, Microsoft Access databases are fairly cheap to implement because you only have to pay for a single application that won’t provide you with any limitations – with Microsoft SQL Server you have to purchase a license for the high-end version in order to be able to make the most of the application without any limitations, however if you go for a lower end version then you may have certain limitations forced upon you – however, your license for Microsoft Access will only be usually valid for one computer meaning that if you wish to use multiple copies of the application or have it on different computers then it could become costly to implement
- ASP.NET websites – Microsoft Access can be used in conjunction with ASP.NET to aid with the development of small-scale dynamic websites that require a database backend in which data can be stored – Access is only suitable for small-scale websites because it isn’t the most scalable database platform available and so larger websites would be put too much stress on an Access database and too many concurrent connections would make it impossible for the database and website to function together properly – however, when used together you will be able to develop very dynamic and functional web applications for a Windows hosting environment.
What are the disadvantages of using Microsoft Access?
Due to the limitations provided by using Microsoft Access, there can be some disadvantages to using the application that you should be aware of prior to choosing it. Some of the disadvantages that you may come across could include:
- Windows-only – the fact that Access is developed by Microsoft means that Access databases can only be managed on Windows desktop computer and will only be fully functional on Windows web hosting servers – this will only be an issue for you if you are using a platform for either your web hosting or on the desktop other than Windows, for example many people choose to use Mac OSX as their desktop operating system for which Microsoft Access isn’t compatible, similarly Linux is a popular choice for web hosting and an Access database won’t open in a Linux hosting environment
- Scalability – the fact that Microsoft Access serves databases directly from the file, it isn’t the most scalable database solution available and so larger businesses looking to use a scalable Microsoft database solution should review Microsoft SQL Server for their requirements – when looking to develop a scalable infrastructure for a website that will be able to cope with load spikes, it is important for you to consider your backend database application carefully because this is going to be put under much of the stress that comes from load spikes because of the continuous requests that will be made to pull information from any databases that are being hosted.
In conclusion, Access hosting is available from any web hosting company that is offering Windows web hosting services. Although Microsoft Access may not be the most scalable database platform available, it is recommended for smaller businesses that are looking to develop small, in-house web applications using ASP.NET as they can then easily manage their databases using a desktop application. Microsoft Access isn’t the best option for managing databases that are being used in a live web environment because once you have downloaded the database and made the changes you want, a newer copy of the database is likely to exist on the hosting server.