Working from home with Microsoft Access
If you need to use your Microsoft Access database from home as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak there are a number of solutions available:
If you need quick access to your data and are not worried about multiple users, then take a copy of the database and install it on your local machine. If your database has a separate front-end and back-end file then you will probably need to re-link them unless there is code within the database to do this automatically. Remember to back it up as you will not be covered by the automated backups on your server/network.
Remote Desktop software lets you connect directly to your office computer and run applications as if you were in the office. The performance and functionality of the database should be the same as if you were sitting in the office. There are numerous options available including LogMeIn, GotoAssist, Teamviewer, RemotePC and Anydesk.
A hosted desktop solution gives you a full Windows PC experience hosted on a robust cloud infrastructure that you can access from anywhere. It should be fairly straightforward to move your Access database to a hosted desktop environment and you not suffer any adverse performance as you would with the VPN option. Costs very depending on the provider and the options chosen but are typically between £30 and £50 per user per month for a Windows desktop with Microsoft Office and shared storage space.
Virtual Private Networks are a method of securely connecting to your office network and are routinely set up by many IT departments and support companies. In addition many network routers support VPN connections which can be setup fairly easily.
However, Access does not perform well over a VPN connection and we would not normally recommend this as an approach for using your database remotely. In the current climate a VPN link may be your only option, in which case we would strongly recommend installed the front-end of your Access system on your local/home PC and just accessing the data file on a shared drive over a VPN. This will help minimise network traffic and ensure resilience with multiple users. If you database is not split between a separate front-end and back-end file then this should be done as a matter of course.
Microsoft SQL Server is the enterprise grade database from Microsoft which can scale to many hundreds of users and terabytes of data. It can also be used with much smaller database solutions and works very well with Microsoft Access. The idea is to store your data within Microsoft SQL Server and then point your Access front-end to it rather than storing the data in an Access database file. Using the Microsoft Azure cloud hosted version of SQL Server you can have all of your data hosted securely in the cloud and accessible for users at home or on the road. We have extensive experience in converting and migrating Access database to use SQL Server and can help you with this. This is not necessarily the quickest solution although for simple databases it can usually be done quite quickly.
If you just need quick access to lists of data and are not worried about the full functionality of the database then look to extract the data as a spreadsheet or text file. You can then work on this from within another application and potentially upload to an online sharing solutions such as Google Docs, Smartsheet or Airtable.