MS Access

The dangers of Microsoft Access in 2024

Patrick Vigeant

Patrick Vigeant

Architecte de solutions chez Witify

In the world of SMEs, databases play a crucial role in the day-to-day management of information and operations. Whether through a sheet of paper, an Excel file or a formal database, the importance of recording information and keeping track remains paramount.

Among the various options available, Microsoft Access has long been the tool of choice for many companies. Often appreciated for its ease of use and affordable cost, this technology enables less technical profiles to manage complex data with greater ease, and thus to have systems geared to business operations.

As a reminder, Microsoft Access is a database management system with a graphical interface and development tools. The system, first released in 1992, is part of the Microsoft Office suite, and can be used to manage a relational database (by default in .accdb format).

If your company is still using MS Access, here's a list of red flags to look out for

  • Is frustration mounting in your team, forced to use MS Access only on the company LAN and not remotely, especially with the rise in telecommuting and business travel?
  • Is the inability of MS Access, originally designed for individual use, to adapt to today's requirements for simultaneous access by several team members over a wide area network, an obstacle for your company?
  • Have you encountered significant performance difficulties when your team attempts to access the database together via the local network, reflecting the limitations of MS Access in the face of real-time collaboration?
  • Are you concerned about Access' 2GB data storage limit, which may restrict the full exploitation of strategic data for business intelligence and Big Data?
  • Does your company's growth raise questions about the suitability of MS Access for managing large databases, including thousands of rows and large files such as images?
  • Is the built-in security of MS Access sufficient for your needs, or are additional programs for enhanced data security becoming a necessity in the face of network sharing between different users?
  • Has waning interest in learning the Access programming language reduced the number of your available developers, posing a challenge for the maintenance and evolution of your Access-based applications?
  • Did Microsoft's U-turn in 2017 regarding the withdrawal of Access from its online Office suite leave you perplexed, making you question the sustainability and future support for this tool?
  • Do questions about the continuity of MS Access updates and new features, depending on the version deployed in your company, add to your concerns about the long-term reliability of this solution?
  • Is the growing trend towards web-based applications leading you to reconsider the usefulness of Access, whose functionalities now seem limited to a specifically Windows-based operational framework?
  • Does the restriction of Access to the Windows environment, excluding MacOS, Linux and Android, limit access to your data for some of your team or partners?
  • Finally, are the ease of use and practicality of MS Access still in tune with your company's evolving database management needs, or do you feel a growing need to explore more flexible, high-performance alternatives?

If these challenges sound familiar, you're not alone.

So why is MS Access still used in business?

MS Access has come to occupy an important place for many companies, thanks to its low barrier to entry, its decent ability to centralize company data, and its flexibility in creating relatively simple automation processes.

  • Autonomy and accessibility: MS Access is easy to get to grips with, despite little technical knowledge. For simple uses, users can create and maintain their database directly from their own computer or the company's physical server.
  • Data centralization: MS Access enhances the quality of stored data, compared with more traditional solutions such as paper notes or Excel files. In this way, information is grouped together in a single location, making it easier to access.
  • Tools and automation: It's possible to create a number of tools around existing data, automating relatively straightforward company procedures such as invoice generation, customer follow-up, and so on.

Is MS Access enough, or am I too limited?

MS Access databases have significant limitations that can hamper the growth and efficiency of SMEs in an increasingly digitized business environment.

Storage and performance

From a technical point of view, Access is often criticized for its limited data storage capacity, with a maximum database size (set at 2GB according to Microsoft), which can quickly become a problem for growing businesses. What's more, performance can decrease as the database grows (often as little as 1GB), especially when multiple users attempt to access it simultaneously.

Cloud and mobile accessibility

The lack of advanced features for online collaboration and remote access limits employee flexibility, an increasingly crucial aspect for companies adopting hybrid or remote working. What's more, the software is not designed for mobile use, which can reduce opportunities for use by colleagues away from home or on the move.

Software development

Access does not offer triggers or advanced functions for scheduled tasks such as backups. You can implement them, but you need to do some complex coding and opt for external programs/libraries. At this stage, it becomes more difficult to develop and maintain enterprise software or global management systems than with modern technologies.

Updates and support

Finally, depending on the version of MS Access, you need to keep a close eye on support end dates. For example, anyone still on the MS Access 2010 version will no longer have support and updates as of October 13, 2020, while those on the MS Access 2016 version will lose support as of October 14, 2025( Upgrading to a more recent version is often painful, and involves several adjustments to resolve versioning inconsistencies.

Recognizing the right moment

Recognizing the right moment to initiate a migration from Access to a more advanced solution is crucial for SMEs seeking to optimize their technological infrastructure without interrupting their operations.

Warning signs that a migration is becoming necessary include :

  • Increasing data volumes beyond Access' capabilities
  • Growing unmet needs for collaboration and remote access
  • Increasingly stringent compliance and security requirements.
  • Difficulties integrating new technologies or applications
  • Performance degradation affecting operational efficiency
  • Changing business needs towards more complex data analysis and real-time insights
  • Business growth requiring robust, reliable management software

This critical stage requires careful evaluation to determine the best timing and approach for migration.

The benefits of migrating to modern solutions

The transition to more modern database solutions offers a host of significant benefits for SMEs, from enhanced performance to improved security. Modern, cloud-based systems offer, among other things:

  • An infrastructure capable of handling much larger volumes of data and numbers of users.
  • Secure access to data in real time, from any location, enabling effective collaboration between teams, even when geographically dispersed.
  • Sophisticated features for data analysis, reporting and task automation.

Adopting these modern solutions represents not only an investment in the performance and security of corporate data, but also a commitment to innovation and competitiveness in a rapidly changing economic landscape.

Alternatives to Access databases

Faced with the diversity of database solutions available on the market, choosing the most suitable alternative for your SME can seem a daunting task. From traditional relational databases such as SQL Server or PostgreSQL, to cloud database platforms such as Amazon RDS or Azure SQL Database, each option offers specific advantages.

For example, SQL Server is renowned for its robustness and tight integration with Windows environments, while PostgreSQL shines for its open standards compliance and extensibility. Cloud solutions, on the other hand, offer unrivalled elasticity and flexibility, enabling resources to be automatically scaled according to need, as well as significantly reducing the operational costs associated with maintaining IT infrastructures.

When selecting a new database solution, it is essential to consider not only the company's current technical requirements, but also its long-term objectives and growth potential, to ensure a smooth transition and maximize return on investment.

At Witify, we particularly recommend the use of MySQL or PostgreSQL databases on cloud servers. Both technologies are mature and stable, and benefit from open-source status, which eliminates the licensing costs associated with their use. Used by nearly 80% of all existing websites, MySQL is a reliable choice. What's more, MySQL is the default database for the Laravel Framework, one of the most popular PHP frameworks.


In conclusion, although Microsoft Access databases have reliably served many SMEs for years, the rapid evolution of information technologies and business requirements makes migration to more modern database solutions essential.

This transition is not simply a technical upgrade; it's a strategic reassessment of how a company manages, secures and uses its data to drive growth and remain competitive. By adopting advanced database platforms, SMBs can benefit from improved performance, enhanced security, more effective collaboration and better in-house productivity tools.

Migrating from an Access database to a more modern platform is a complex process that requires a trusted partner to minimize disruption to current operations. Contact us today to discuss your project.
Patrick Vigeant

Patrick Vigeant

Architecte de solutions chez Witify

Patrick Vigeant est cofondateur et architecte de solutions chez Witify. Spécialisé en technologie, il se consacre depuis plus de 10 ans à concevoir des solutions digitales innovantes et à développer des systèmes de gestion sur-mesure. Particulièrement chevronné en architecture de solution, il conçoit et outille les PMEs d'une infrastructure technologique personnalisée axée sur l'efficience et l'efficacité. Enseignant le cours Web Analytics de 2e cycle au HEC, Patrick apprécie partager les dernières tendances numériques et garder un contact avec le milieu académique. Finalement, il s'implique dans sa communauté d'affaires en tant que Président de la Relève d'Affaires lavalloise.

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