Access training courses talk about the capabilities and uses of Microsoft Access. However most courses don't talk about when you shouldn't use Access, and that's an important subject as well. Microsoft Access is a powerful and useful application for a variety of tasks but may not be the right choice for everyone. Here are some reasons why you might look for an alternative.

Your Application Is Too Small

Relational databases are powerful tools but using one for a simple project can be like trying to cut your fingernails with a chainsaw or flying a fighter jet to the grocery store. Access training helps people understand the complexities of relational database design so they can harness the power of this application. This is great if you need the power, but pure overkill if you don't.

A flat database is one where all the data is arranged in rows and columns. There is no duplication of records or fields. Something like a list of names and addresses would be a good example. Flat databases would be well suited for Excel rather than Access. It will be easier to manage and, as long as you won't have several people accessing it simultaneously, you will have the capabilities you need for your job.

Your Application Is Too Large

At the other end of the spectrum, Access doesn't handle really huge databases well. If any table in your project might potentially have more than a million records then Access probably isn't going to be able to manage it. It will get progressively slower as the database size increases and you may suffer corruption of your data.

Large can also refer to the number of users who will be accessing simultaneously. Access cannot reasonably coordinate more than around 15 people using the database at one time over long periods. If you have short spikes of high use you will probably be fine, but if there will be many users accessing records all day every day, catastrophe awaits you.

Your Environment Is Too Diverse

It is a known issue that Access doesn't work well in an environment that is running too many versions of Windows. If you have multiple operating system versions throughout your company, the risk of corruption increases.

This is less of an issue than it used to be and is mostly true when some of the computers are using Windows 95, 98, or ME. If all of your systems are using Windows 2000 or later you should be safe from this problem.

Another issue arises when you have multiple databases using security features covered in Access training. If some of them are using Access security features and others are not, this can create conflicts. These are the kinds of issues that standard Access courses do not cover, but your instructor may be able to answer these concerns if asked about them.