Microsoft Access Database: Encrypting your Database File

From time to time, you may want to encrypt and set a password for your Microsoft Access database application. This is used to protect and secure access to your database file preventing unauthorised users prying into your database.

Access Database File Formats

First of all let’s clear things up regarding database file formats. As you may be aware that we have two file formats in Microsoft Access; MDB and ACCDB.

Encrypting with a password only applies to ACCDB file formats which are available to only Access 2007 and 2010. MDB files do not have Encryption but instead use the older (and less secure) Encoding feature.

So What’s Encryption within Microsoft Access?

Encryption is a way to protect your database file from unauthorised users which stores information converting to plain text into a cipher-text using a complex algorithm using a password for added security.

How this actually works – I have no clue! but do we really care?

How to Set Encryption with a Password

In order to set an encryption with a password, you must first open the Access database in “Exclusive Mode” which means no other user can access the file if it were being shared.

With the Access database file closed, re-open it using the official Open command where you will see the Open dialog box appear allowing you to choose the “Open Exclusive” option.

Microsoft Access 2010 File Open - exclusive modeNow you can set the encryption with a password by doing one of the following based on which version of Microsoft Access you use.

Access 2007 – located on the Ribbon Bar under the Database Tools tab, Database Tools section.Microsoft Access 2007 - encryption iconAccess 2010 – located in the Backstage area under the Info section.

Micrososft Access 2010 - encrypt password iconIn both cases, you will see a password prompt where you need to enter a case sensitive password and verify it again in the second textbox control.

Now it’s set and ready to go. The next time your open you Access database file, you will be prompted for your password and the file will decrypt when opening and encrypt when closing.

To remove and release the encryption file mechanism, you again will need to open the database file in “Exclusive Mode” and follow the above menu options to decrypt the file which will require you to enter the existing password for the last time.

Finally, you need to be aware that while your file is encrypted you will not be able to convert between file formats (MDB — ACCDB — MDB).

Oh, by the way, don’t forget your password!

Please feel free to add your comments below and I would love to hear your experiences with this sort of functionality in securing Microsoft Access databases.

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Speak soon, regards
Ben Beitler

This entry was posted in Database Theory, MS Access, Utilities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Microsoft Access Database: Encrypting your Database File

  1. Ben says:

    Hi, To bypass and get into your Access database, you need to purchase a fix-it utility like Access Fix.
    Thanks, Ben

  2. Krishna says:

    Hi, I encrypted password for Microsoft Access database one year back and now i forgot password as i have been out of country for 4 months and i havent used these months. Can you please help me to get into database.

  3. marian says:

    thanks for the info… really helpful

  4. Ben says:

    Which version of Access are you using?
    Remember to first have your database opened as ‘Exclusive’ before modifying and removing passwords.

  5. Teja Crane says:

    Thank you for the post. However, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to REMOVE a password that I have put on a database. Other articles say there should be a “Decrypt with Password” pop up or button that I am not seeing. I am totally confused and frustrated. Thanks for any help you can give me!

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