Access is a database management system (DBMS) application developed by Microsoft. It is part of the Microsoft 365 software suite, formerly known as Office. Access helps users create relational databases that store information across an organized structure of linked tables, and provides an easy graphical user interface (GUI) for creating forms, queries, and reports without requiring advanced programming skills.

Small and medium businesses typically use Access databases to track product inventory, sales orders, customer data, and many other types of information. They can use Access to create macros to record repetitive actions and automate them later, or even write modules using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to create complex automations and applications. Access works alongside other Microsoft 365 productivity apps like Excel to share data across document types. For example, you can import sales records into an Excel file to create charts and spreadsheets; you can also import customer names and addresses into Word as part of a mail merge to create customized form letters and mailing labels.

The Access database file format is best for small- to medium-sized databases. Performance can suffer if an Access database grows too large or too many people try to access it at once. However, Access can act as a front-end for other types of databases using Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) plug-ins. ODBC allows Access to read and write data to other systems like Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Oracle Database that can handle large-scale databases more efficiently.

File extensions: .ACCDB, .MDB

Updated November 27, 2023 by Brian P.

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