Microsoft Access is a popular database tool, allowing end users to quickly and easily create databases to solve their day to day business needs.  These databases can become business critical, and with this brings extra maintenance and support considerations.  What starts with savvy end users solving an immediate business need, can become a problem for IT professionals trying to maintain and secure their estate.

It’s difficult to estimate the number of Access databases. From our work, we have seen that this could be as many as 3 databases for each employee. If we look at central and local government in the UK, it has been reported that over 1 million people work in public administration.  If we use this as a base to extrapolate, we are looking at in excess of 3 million Access databases, just in this sector.  And of course, Access is used widely across every sector.   

To give a rough estimate of the spread of databases across versions, what we have found is the majority are still in Access 2010 and 2013.  In fact, there is still a significantly high number of databases in Access 2003 and earlier, causing real concerns for security.

Based on our experience, we estimate the spread of databases across versions could be demonstrated as follows: 

Major concerns with legacy versions

There are many issues with maintaining older versions of Microsoft Access databases.  Some of these are:

  • Security Concerns
    • Old versions of Access require old versions of operating systems to operate, which mean there could be old versions of operating systems that need to be maintained.
    • If the version is no longer in support, there will be no security patches increasing vulnerable to attack.
  • Maintenance problems
    • Users who created and understand these databases have moved on and IT departments are called in to support databases. Or worse yet, there is no-one to support them.
    • Databases may not have been developed professionally.

Challenges faced with upgrading

The conversion of legacy Access databases to the latest version of Microsoft Access is, very rarely, a straightforward or error-free process.  There are many challenges that include:

  • Security Model – There was a change to the Access Object Security Model in version Access 2013. Databases that implemented object level permissions in previous versions, are left without a direct upgrade path.  From Access 2013 onwards, you can no longer manage object specific permissions.
  • Integration with third party systems. Databases that are integrated with 3rd party systems may be reliant on their upgrade and quite often, these are also operating on legacy operating systems that can restrict upgrade options.
  • The size of the database and amount of VBA code can cause issues, with changes in object model.
  • You can’t go direct, for example MS Access 1997 to 2016. You need to migrate up through the versions, dealing with any issues with each upgrade.
  • User availability – don’t underestimate the amount of time that may be required from your end users to validate and test complex database upgrades.

Opportunities with upgrading

When you decide to upgrade, this brings a range of opportunities for you to consider.  Your databases contain valuable data, and each database should be assessed in relation to the data it contains.  With new requirements and expectations around data, in relation to compliance, data analytics, reporting, big data, AI, etc, consider an upgrade that will allow you to exploit these technologies.  In addition, you should also consider a path that limits your exposure to future application legacy problems.  

Microsoft Access – Product Lifecycle

Products Released Life Cycle Start Date Mainstream Support End Date Extended Support End Date (or Service Pack Support End Date)
Microsoft Access 95 Standard Edition 24/08/1995 31/12/2001 Not Applicable
Microsoft Access 97 Standard Edition 16/01/1997 31/01/2004 Not Applicable
Microsoft Access 2000 Standard Edition 07/06/1999 30/06/2004 14/07/2009
Microsoft Access 2002 Standard Edition 31/05/2001 11/07/2006 12/07/2011
Microsoft Office Access 2003 27/11/2003 14/04/2009 08/04/2014
Microsoft Office Access 2007 27/01/2007 13/01/2009
Microsoft Access 2010 (Office Professions 2010) 15/07/2010 13/10/2015 13/10/2020
Microsoft Access 2013 (Office Professional 2013) 01/09/2013 4/14/2015
Microsoft Access 2016 (Office Professional 2016) 22/09/2015 31/10/2020 14/10/2025
Microsoft Access 2019 (Office Professional 2019) 24/09/2018 10/10/2023 14/10/2025

Source: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search?alpha=Microsoft%20Access

 

Equdos specialise in upgrading Microsoft Access databases.  Please contact us to find out more.