Chris Straw

Disadvantages of an Access Database (Part 2)

In my previous post, Disadvantages of an Access Database (Part 1), I described issues with Access and the?vulnerabilities?and limitations of Access. ?This post details the?Scalability?and the non-trained database designer flaw.


Access has issues with scalability. The more activity, the slower Access becomes. ?Ninety-five percent of the systems I’ve written have been to replace an Access-based system. ?One?hundred?percent of the time, the system isn’t performing with good response times, crashing, and can’t be used by more than 5-10 people at a time.

I recently seen a YouTube video from a business owner who created a system with a Access?back-end and he was apologizing?about the slow response times to his customers. ?He talked that the growth of his system and the amount of growth and activity was causing the system to respond slowly. ?In order to fix the problem, they were looking to add more web servers, just like the “big boys” have (Google, Yahoo, etc.). ?With roughly 3500 users and each client account having it’s own Access database, the true problem is with the 1990’s coding architecture and the back-end database. ?He took the easy route and just threw hardware at the problem.

Let me compare that with Indiana’s?MyBMV, which has?roughly?1.5 million users, ?it runs using only two, yes two, webservers. ?Just shows you that it’s all in the database selection. ?Sidebar here, the coding plays a big role in the overall system architecture.

Hobby or the need something now Database

I see Access used by people interested in learning a “database”. ?Needless to say, it has a hobby type feel to it. ?In most cases, someone picks up Access due to the short learning curve. ?This is where the problem starts. ?The hobby turns to going selling your boss or a company a “database” written in Access. ?With Access, you can still follow standard database design?principals. ?With the untrained database “developer”, you never see things like, no referential?integrity, no relational design, and/or no indexes, just to name a few. ?Majority?of the time, you see huge table layouts that look more like Excel spreadsheets than database tables, orphan records, slow retrieval due to no indexing or foreign-key references, and/or data corruption. ?I guess you have to start somewhere.