When you start working with Access 2007 for the first time you may have been surprised with the security warning message you see every time you open a database file. You can thank the Access 2007 Trust Center for guarding the file in this way. The Trust Center blocks all Access functions which can potentially run malicious code - hence the warning message. And Access 2007 will do this for files created under any Access version. This is one of a number of new security features of Access 2007. This article looks at the two most important of these features; the Trust Center and Password encryption.

If you DON'T trust the source of the database you can close the Trust Center security message and still carry on using the database. You can access all the data in the tables, but some functions such as macros will not work. This itself is new - previous Access security methods simply blocked the entire suspect file.

If you DO trust the source of the database you have to click on Options. Choose "Enable this content" and click the OK button to finally open the file with all features intact, but you have to go over the same procedure next time you open the file. However, you can eliminate the Trust Center intervention and warning by organising trusted locations - folders where you save your Access 2007 files to. These folders could be on your computer or perhaps on a network drive. You then tell the Trust Center where these locations are and if you subsequently open an Access 2007 from a trusted location it opens with all features intact and without the security message.

To set up trusted locations, ensure Access 2007 is open. You don't need to have a database file open as well. Click the Office button at the top left of the screen, then click the Access Options button at the lower right. The Access Options panel opens. Select the Trust Center from the left hand index, then click Trust Centre Settings on the far right.

The Trust Centre panel opens and you're almost there. Choose Trusted Locations in the left hand index. Then in the lower part of the panel click Add new location then browse to a folder of your choice. The folder could be on your computer or on a shared drive, but remember you are marking this folder as trustworthy, so best be cautious. Once you have chosen your folder you are taken back to the Microsoft Office Trusted Locations panel which should now show your chosen folder. Tick Subfolders of this location are also trusted, if you wish to do so, then click OK, then click a couple more OKs to complete. Now open an Access 2007 database from your trusted location and hey presto - no security warning, and all features are enabled.

The next security feature we'll look at is password encryption. Access' password encryption methods are stronger and therefore more secure than in previous versions. To apply password encryption to an Access 2007 file, the file must first be opened in Exclusive mode. So close the file if it's currently open.

To open an Access 2007 file in exclusive mode, choose Office button, then Open. Navigate to find your file, then click it once to select it, but don't open it. Then click the down arrow to the immediate right of the Open button and choose Open Exclusive. The file will open in exclusive mode rather than the usual shared mode. Then in the Database Tools tab on the far right, click Encrypt with Password. In the Set Database Password panel type in your password, then type it again for verification and click OK to complete. And that's the job done - encryption password set.


Microsoft's advice on choice of password is: "Use strong passwords that combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Weak passwords don't mix these elements. Example strong password is Y6dh!et5. Example weak password is House27. Passwords should be 8 or more characters in length. A pass phrase that uses 14 or more characters is better". Whether people follow these suggestions is probably another story, but please do pick and remember a good password.

To test password encryption close your file, then open it normally, and you'll be prompted for your password. So from now on everyone who uses that Access 2007 file needs to know the password. If you want to turn off password encryption, open the file in exclusive mode, then in the Database tab, towards the top right, choose Decrypt Database. Enter your password and click OK. You can then close the database, and open it again - no password prompt this time.

There are other new security features in Access 2007 such as applying digital signatures to files, and improved macro management, but knowing how to use the Trust Center and password encryption is really essential to start using Access 2007 effectively. To really boost your knowledge of Access 2007 and all its new features consider attending a training course as your next step.