Microsoft Access is one of the leading business database systems around and despite its features it has a few limitations that may have business owners looking at other solutions. However these other databases have their own problems and it's important to understand the whole picture before ditching your MS Access training in pursuit of another application.

The Heavyweights

Most of the criticism launched at Access is that it is not a "real" database and isn't as robust and fully featured as products like Oracle. This is like saying you shouldn't ride a bicycle because it doesn't go as fast as a Formula One racer or carry as much cargo as a furniture truck.

The big databases certainly have more advanced features than MS Access. Training is pretty much mandatory on these applications because of this as they are nearly impossible to figure out on your own. However the databases created by these powerhouse solutions are substantially less subject to corruption, one of Access's greatest weaknesses.

There is a reason that every company on the planet doesn't use these applications. These heavyweight databases carry heavyweight price tags that break the budgets of many small businesses. They require courses well beyond typical MS Access training and that further increases their cost.

Free Solutions

Some businesses try getting around the price issue of the major databases by using one of the free database applications that are available. Many of these are developed to be robust, server-based applications that give you everything the major names do at no cost to you - no monetary cost that is.

Free databases aren't distributed by companies so there is no technical support department you can call if you have a problem. User forums can help but you never know just how much actual experience some self-proclaimed expert has and an unwary user can get bad advice that will make a problem even worse. These applications are less often used in business than the commercial products, making it harder to find experienced database administrators or classes on par with the MS Access training that is available.

Microsoft Access

The Microsoft database application is an inexpensive solution with extensive technical support and one of the largest installation bases of any database in the world. MS Access training is not only freely available but certified by Microsoft so you can be sure you are getting quality instruction.

Access is not without its own limitations but with proper training and employment of best practices it can be a cost effective solution for small and large businesses alike. Although it excels at small applications used by a single person on one computer, it can be and is used for larger server-based solutions as well.

Detractors of Access often give narrowly-defined criticisms that consider only the shortcomings of the Microsoft product without balancing those against the drawbacks of their alternative solution. Keep a broad perspective and you'll see that Access is a good choice for many database projects.