Is it possible to have an Access back-end database available for multiple users on the same network?

I am developing a Visual Basic .NET application to be used by the staff of a small training centre nearby. The front-end (UI, menus, etc.) will all be in VB .NET, and there will be a back-end database for storing all of the required data, such as student records and meeting information.

What I would like to know is if it's possible to use a Microsoft Access database for this purpose, and have it accessible by all the staff in the centre (on the same network) at the same time. For example, would I be able to put the database in a shared network folder, and have a copy of the VB application on each PC that would all be able to read/edit/add to the database?

Advice would be appreciated as to how I should proceed. (Note: I would really prefer a method of doing this with MS Access as opposed to suggestions to switch to SQL, as Access was the requested platform)

Thanks in advance.


Yes, but probably not advisable. Despite the disclaimer in your post, you should try to convince the powers to be to look at SQL Server Express instead-- it's free.

But, if Access is the database, all you need to do is have the database reside on a shared directory with full read-write capabilities for all the users. Hopefully when you say "staff of a small training centre", you mean it.

Install the VB.Net program on the client computers and setup the connection string with the path to the database.

Someone else with more recent Microsoft Access experience can probably give better hints on how to reduce the corruption factor. My own experience was to stay away from queries in Access-- have the Access database only for tables and do all of your queries with SQL statements in your client code. My corrupted databases reduced dramatically when I did that, but that was 10-15 years ago.

Back up the database religiously.

Yes it can be done and from a programming stand point it is any (much) different then using SQL Server. I think the biggest considerations you have to think about are:

  • How many simultaneous users do you expect to have using the application?
  • How secure does the application need to be? Is Access security enough?
  • How big do I expect the database to become in the next 1 to 5 years?

I think those are you biggest considerations when using Access as a data store and if your answers fall within the specs of Access capabilities then go for it. You can always migrate to SQL Server at a later time if you run into the limits of Access.

You did not mention the version of Access that you are using but a quick Google/Bing search should return specs for every version available.

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