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10 Time-Saving Tips for Microsoft Access 2007

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Looking to shave some time off your daily Microsoft Access administration and design tasks? There are many great, little-known features of this program that you can use to improve the efficiency of your database experience.

I've put together a collection of ten tips that will improve your Microsoft Access experience.

1. Automatically Add Timestamps To Database Records

There are many applications where you may wish to add a date/time stamp to each record, identifying the time that the record was added to the database. It’s easy to do this in Microsoft Access using the Now() function.

2. Build Your Databases from Templates

Why build a database from scratch when there are hundreds of templates available to help you get started? Microsoft Access includes a number of built-in templates which are complemented by a large number of templates made available by the Access user commmunity. It's much easier to build a database starting from the work of others than reinventing the wheel building your own from scratch!

3. Use SQL for Advanced Queries

If you're struggling to design a query in Microsoft Access, it's very helpful to have a working knowledge of the Structured Query Language (SQL) to fall back upon. This language is the foundation of all relational databases and using it allows you to exactly specify the results you wish to achieve.

4. Choose Primary Keys Carefully

The selection of a primary key is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make in the design of a new database. The most important constraint is that you must ensure that the selected key is unique. If it’s possible that two records (past, present, or future) may share the same value for an attribute, it’s a poor choice for a primary key. When evaluating this constraint, you should think creatively.

5. Import from Excel to Access

Let's face it: most of the data out there on user desktops is stored in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. This easy-to-use tool is found on almost every office computer in the world. Did you know that it's easy to import data from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into an Access database?

6. Export from Access to Excel

Just as you're likely to need to import data from an Excel spreadsheet, you're also going to find it handy to export data from Access to a spreadsheet at some point. Most Office users are familiar with Microsoft Excel while many have never used Access databases.

7. Convert Your Old Databases to ACCDB Format

The ACCDB database format introduced in Access 2007 provides a number of enhanced features over the older MDB format. In this article, I walk you through the process of converting an MDB format database to the new ACCDB format.

8. Backup Your Database Regularly

You store critical data in Access databases every day. Have you ever stopped to consider whether you're taking appropriate actions to protect your database in the event of a hardware failure, disaster, or other data loss? Microsoft Access provides built-in functionality to help you back up your databases and protect your organization. In this tutorial, I walk through the process of backing up an Access database.

9. Leverage the Power of Relationships

The true power of relational databases lies in their ability to track relationships (hence the name!) between data elements. However, many database users don’t understand how to take advantage of this functionality and simply use Access as an advanced spreadsheet. In this tutorial, I walk through the process of creating a relationship between two tables in an Access database.

10. Encrypt Your Database Content

Security-conscious database users have long called for the ability to use strong encryption in Microsoft Access. With the release of Access 2007, Microsoft answered these pleas and introduced a robust encryption feature that allows for the simple addition of a great deal of security to Access databases.
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