Microsoft Access Database Versus Excel – Which To Choose?

Microsoft Access Database Versus Excel – Which To Choose?

Why Access? Why Excel?

In the modern age, ‘the books’ are done digitally. Individuals and businesses alike use software like Microsoft Excel to do a bunch of database stuff… – but strangely, bizarrely, bafflingly, Microsoft Access database remains a highly underused product in the Microsoft Office package.  There seems to be a general misconception about Access and Excel, with many people believing Excel to be both easier and more applicable to their needs.

microsoft access database versus excel image

Databases vs Spreadsheets

So what’s the difference between the two? Microsoft Access is a database, not just a large spreadsheet like Excel. Both have their uses and only the situation can dictate the need for one over the other. Excel is generally more convenient for crunching numbers and producing figures and graph that represent technical data. Access, however, is able to store a huge amount of data – far more than in any one spreadsheet. Additionally, Excel stores data usually so that it can be accessed by a person; whereas data stored in a database is often accessed by applications that can edit and update the stored information.

Microsoft Access Database Versus Excel – Which To Choose?

With that in mind, let’s consider five scenarios where Access may be the better option over Excel!

Size: When you’ve got huge amounts of data to store, use Access, which can store vast amounts of information – much more than is available or easily accessible on a single spreadsheet.

Complex Queries: Do you need to know how many of your customers have paid you more than £20,000 this year but haven’t used your business or service in the last six weeks? Access can find out for you much faster than Excel can!

Managing Data: It is much easier to share and compare data in Access than Excel, with the former being able to query several databases at once for the information you need.

Pictures: Although Excel is able to produce some excellent graphs or tables, if you need to store pictures with your data, Access is the better choice as it can store most kinds of information with ease. With MS Access, more functionality presents itself with better file association and attachment controls compered to MS Excel that would simply struggle to maintain.

Flexibility: When your records need to be organised in a different way, or when your data needs restructuring, Access should be your program of choice! And, as mentioned above, it is much easier to perform a complex search in Access than Excel. The added benefit with MS Access is being able to manage data using a powerful and well structured technique called normalisation.

Why Not Both?

Given that Microsoft Access database and Excel are both useful in their own ways, you might be asking yourself why you shouldn’t use both – to which the answer is, you should!

Both are parts of the Microsoft Office suite and are designed to be used in conjunction with each other should the occasion call for it.But if you find yourself plugging endlessly through huge piles of data in Excel, remember that Access may be able to get the job done faster and with relative ease!

So, to get started, you will need some guidance and help. My Microsoft Access Database eBook bundle will fit the bill and comes with a 30 day email support and a no questions asked money back guarantee.

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

2 Responses to Microsoft Access Database Versus Excel – Which To Choose?

  1. JB says:

    Excel for simple spreadsheets, access if you want to create classifications amongst sheets and match information in categories on separate sheets.

    One thing one has to do is normalise data or create sheets which are easy to read instead of messy ones. Here is an example of a datasheet you dont want to keep

    Name Address Order 1 Order 2 Order 3 Member 1 Member 2 Member 3

    This means that certain people had more than one order and are members of more than one points club. Other sheets are when the name of people comes up more than once because they differ in another category although when the address is always the same. Also thats the same with an office number and a phone number if they go together and if there is more than one bit of relating information that repeats. That way it makes more compact readable sheets

    That is a messy datasheet. It is best to create a separate table for orders and members and match them to the name

  2. Eric Au says:

    Agreed much! Access and Excel is best to be used together. Bau DB is such a tool to bridge Access and Excel together so that you can enjoy the benefits of both tools at the same time.

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