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Mike Chapple

Multiuser Databases in Microsoft Access

By September 28, 2008

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In a recent forum posting, blewis70 wrote:

"I am very new to using Access but have created a database that I would like to use at the office. There are approximately 10 people that need to use this database throughout the day (most likely less than 3 users at the same time) to generate reports, queries, and enter/edit records. The problem that I am having is that only one person can currently have the database open at a time. Some times we have a need to have a few people accessing the database simultaneously.

We are all using Access 2003 on a network with the database stored on a network drive that everyone (applicable) has access to. Is it possible to change a setting and allow multiple users in the database at the same time? If so, what are some of the risks and other settings or options that I should know about to help with this situation?"

Do you have any advice? Interested in solutions to the same problem? Visit our forum and join the discussion.
September 28, 2008 at 7:53 pm
(1) Richard Rost says:

By default, a Microsoft Access database SHOULD allow more than one user to log on at a time over your network. Check to make sure that one of the users didn’t open the database with EXCLUSIVE rights (when you open the database, you will see this option on the OPEN button drop-down arrow.

How many users can you have connected to a shared Microsoft Access MDB file? That depends on several factors. There really isn’t a set “maximum limit.” You’re just going to have to gauge the performance of your hardware and use of the database.

First, how fast is your network? How fast is your server? How fast are the individual workstations?

Is your database properly split so that the tables are on the back-end and the forms, queries, modules, and reports are in a front end database?

How much are these users querying the database? You could have 50 users connected who do very little with the records and they might see better performance than a setup with only 3 users who are constantly querying records.

If your users are primarily looking up data all day long and very seldom have to add or edit records, you will see better performance than a setup where people are constantly manipulating records. You’ll also see faster performance from users who are working with one record at a time versus a situation where people are generating long reports and records have to travel “across the wire” from your server to your local workstations.

Remember, one of the benefits of a database server like SQL Server or Oracle is that it does all of the number crunching in the background (sorts, searches, etc.) and then just sends you those few records you need. Whereas a shared Access MDB file has to send ALL of the records down to your workstation and then YOUR PC does all of the work.

So, to answer your question, “it all depends.” The best thing to do is try it with a few users. If that performs well, then add more. If you start to get to a point where you’re noticing a slowdown, it may be time to upgrade to SQL Server.

Richard Rost

July 22, 2009 at 8:42 pm
(2) Robert says:

I’m having a problem placing my database on a shared network drive. Al the tables point to my drive which other can’t access it. Causing the database to be unusable. Is there anything I can do for this situation? I tried creating a new one importing the table from the shared drive and that did not work either.

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