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Migrating Your Access Database to SQL Server

Microsoft Access is an excellent “step up” from a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. It provides users with software tools to create and manage their business tasks, such as tracking inventory, payroll and customer transactions. 

However, there are limits to Access. As your database grows and more people use it, Access may no longer be able to support your needs. For example, an Access database has a size limit of 2 GB and can’t support more than 255 concurrent users. 

When it’s time for your database to move to the next solution, you can migrate to SQL Server. SQL Server supports larger amounts of data, more concurrent users and has greater capacity than the JET/ACE database engine. 

Let’s learn more about SQL Server and why this may be another “next step” for your business. 

What is SQL Server? What are the Benefits? 

SQL Server is a relational database management system from Microsoft that was built to manage and store information. If you plan to migrate Access to SQL Server, you can still maintain the front-end Access database, giving users the same look and feel they’re used to. 

The difference is that the front-end database will link to SQL Server tables on the back-end, allowing you to have a larger, more complex database with more concurrent users. The benefits to migrating to SQL Server are:

  • Higher performance. SQL Server performs better than Access, especially when it comes to large databases. Also, SQL Server processes queries much faster and more efficiently, handling user requests without hesitation. 
  • Better security. With SQL Server, you essentially get two security systems. This is the case because SQL Server integrates with Windows system security.
  • Increased availability. Having SQL Server allows you to back up the database while it’s in use. You do not have to force users to leave the database during these periods. 
  • More concurrent users. If you have more than 255 users using your database at a single time, you’ll need to upgrade. SQL Server can handle many more users than Access and uses far less memory when users are added. 

SQL Server Options to Choose From 

If you are migrating to SQL Server, you have several options to choose from: Azure SQL Database, Azure SQL Managed Instance, SQL Server on Azure VMs and SQL Server 2019. The latter is a great option for on-premise servers, and the Express edition is free. This link compares options so you can determine what features you need. 

Regardless of the option you select, you can expect many useful features such as automatic updates and patches, disaster recovery, high availability and performance tuning. Azure also constantly monitors your data for threats and has multi-layered protection with built-in security controls. 

If you’re ready to upgrade your Access database, contact Arkware for a consultation. We are experts in both Microsoft Access and SQL Server and can make this transition seamless for you! 

What Does it Mean to Split a Microsoft Access Database?

When you split a database, it means that you reorganize it into two files. One file is the back-end database that contains the data and tables. The other file is the front-end database that contains the queries, forms and reports. Users interact with the data by using a local copy of the front-end database. 

In Microsoft Access, you can split a database using the Database Splitter Wizard. This is one of the many reasons why we love Access – it makes completing tasks like these quick and easy! Once you split the database, you’ll have to distribute the front-end database to your users. 

Let’s learn more about why you might want to split your database and the benefits to doing so. 

Why Should I Consider Splitting My Database? 

Not all databases need to be split, but it’s something to consider from an architectural point of view. By splitting your database into a front- and back-end, you can improve database performance, reduce the risk of corruption and even save money. 

When you split an Access database, you create two files. The back-end database contains just the tables, while the front-end has everything else: queries, forms, macros, reports and modules. All of this can be distributed to users without giving them access to your tables. 

And, with the Database Splitter Wizard, splitting a database is generally very simple. However, if you plan to split a large or more complex database, we recommend speaking with a database expert like Arkware first. 

What are the Benefits of Splitting an Access Database? 

There are a number of advantages to splitting your database:

  • Improved performance. Split databases have significantly improved performance because only the data is sent across the network. In a database that’s not split, all of the database objects have to be sent across the network as well, not just the data.
  • Greater security. Since users don’t have direct access to the tables, there’s less risk of them accidentally deleting tables or stealing data. You can also restrict front-end users from making changes to the application. 
  • Better reliability. Splitting your Access database reduces the risk of database corruption. If there is an issue for an individual user, it’s usually related to that user and not the database as a whole. 
  • Enhanced flexibility. Because each user works with a local copy of the front-end database, users can create queries, forms and other database objects without affecting other users. 

Contact Arkware to Split Your Database 

Think database splitting is right for your database? Contact Arkware for a consultation. If you have a small and streamlined database, you can likely split your database on your own using the Database Splitter Wizard. More complex databases can benefit from our help!

Why You Should Limit User Access for Your Database

It can be tempting to give all employees full access to your database, but this is definitely something to avoid. The more people who have access to your data, the more at risk your data is. Just one mistake can cause you to give access to unauthorized users or those who have already left the company. 

Today we are going to talk about the importance of restricting user access and privileges in order to maintain data integrity and security. 

Your Role as a Database Admin: Managing User Permissions 

Managing a database is more than entering in data and running queries. It also involves taking the appropriate security precautions and managing users who have access to your data. Whether your business is small or large, you likely have multiple people who will be regularly working with your data. 

To protect your data, avoid giving users full access to your database. Instead, reserve root access to a few select people and then give the rest of the users their own unique permissions. One way you can do this is by creating a security architecture with a tiered and granular permission graph.

With this type of hierarchy, you’re able to give the necessary permissions to each user based on what they need to do their jobs. Even database administrators should be given varying levels of permissions. For example, you might want to give one admin full access to your database, while another admin will only have access to specific tables. 

Again, users should only have access to the data they need to do their jobs. Otherwise, the integrity of your data is at risk. 

What Can Happen if You Don’t Restrict Data? 

Even if your data doesn’t seem to be sensitive, you should still protect it. Hackers only need a small amount of information to create havoc. Also, your business has to stay in compliance with the state and federal privacy laws. If you don’t, you could face hefty fines and a ding in your reputation. 

Here are some of the things that can go wrong if you don’t limit user access: 

  • Accidental data exposure 
  • Data breaches due to negligence 
  • Users may see data they’re not supposed to 
  • Human error that can lead to database corruption 
  • Violation of privacy laws 

Bottom line: Make sure you’re limiting and restricting user access to minimize potential misuse. Your employees only need enough privileges to do their jobs effectively. 

If you need help setting up appropriate user limitations for your database, contact Arkware today. Part of being a database expert is making sure our clients’ databases are safe and secure!

 

5 Practical Database Tips for Beginners

If you’re just getting started with databases, the process of creating and managing databases can feel overwhelming. By learning a few database tips and tricks, you can improve efficiency and make your life easier. 

You may also find it helpful to hire a database developer who can create and implement a database for you. This way, your database will have everything you need to be productive, and you can start working in it right away. 

Below are five of our best database tips for beginners. Don’t worry – you’ll be an expert in no time! 

1. SQL is the core of all relational databases.

The Structured Query Language (SQL) forms the core of all relational databases. It provides a uniform interface to SQL Server, Microsoft Access and others. All aspiring database users must learn SQL if they want to have a solid foundation in the world of databases.

So how can you learn SQL? We recommend taking an introductory course. Thankfully, it’s very easy to learn SQL, and most people pick up the basics in a few weeks or so. It will take longer to become fluent, but you’ll have the basic concepts down quickly.

2. Selecting primary keys is a big decision. 

The selection of a primary key is one of the most important factors in database design. A primary key is a table column that serves a specific purpose. Each database table needs a primary key, which can have one or many columns. Number data types are the best choices for primary keys. 

3. Save time by converting spreadsheets into databases. 

Being new to databases, you’ve probably been using something like Microsoft Excel to store your data. Fortunately, you can convert these spreadsheets into databases and save yourself a great deal of time. All you need to do is import your spreadsheet and set up your database. If you need help, contact Arkware. 

4. Not all database platforms are the same. 

It’s important to know that not all database platforms are the same. There are many different platforms out there, and they all offer unique benefits. Microsoft Access, for instance, works only on Windows, while MySQL works on almost all platforms. But MySQL is just the database, whereas Access also provides tools for macros, reports and forms. 

5. NULL does not mean ‘zero.’ 

NULL is something that often confuses users because they think it means ‘zero.’ In reality, it means ‘unknown.’ For instance, if you’re unsure of what one of your customer’s birthdates is, you could enter in NULL as the placeholder. Obviously, the customer has a birthday, you just don’t know what it is. 

These five tips will help you grow more comfortable using databases. And Arkware is here to help along the way! We can create, manage and optimize your databases for the best performance. Contact us today to learn more!

 

Does Your Business Need an HR Database?

As a business owner, you’ll want to store human resources information in a safe, secure and stable location. Human resources information is sensitive because it contains workplace complaints, disciplinary problems, drug testing, workers compensation incidents, employee medical issues and more. The best way to store this sensitive data is in digital form.

Let’s take a look at what an HR database is and the benefits of having one for your business. 

What is an HR Database?

An HR database is a central hub for employee information. Human resources departments use this software to track the following types of data:  

  • Employee details 
  • Holiday details
  • Absenteeism rates
  • Work rota schedule 
  • Standard working hours 
  • Clocking in and out times 
  • Employee timesheets 
  • Business expenses 

Because this information is sensitive, there are many legal considerations to consider. You should know how to store this data under HIPAA and the GDPR, as well as know how long you can keep it. This applies to both current employees, former staff members and job applicants. 

How Can an HR Database Help Your Business? 

Once you have an HR database set up for your business, you won’t look back! These databases streamline your HR processes and keep data stored in a safe environment. This way, you can show your employees that you take their confidentiality seriously. 

Here are some of the benefits to expect by having an HR database for your business: 

  • Efficiency. Maintaining an HR database streamlines your team’s productivity. All the information they need to make data-driven decisions is in one central location. 
  • Cost-effectiveness. In the long run, having an HR database can save your business money. Your database will be working for you so your staff can focus on other tasks. Also, keeping sensitive information secure can prevent a costly breach. 
  • Accuracy. When you need to make decisions, it’s imperative that you rely on accurate information. With a database, there are fewer HR errors, allowing you to make sound decisions. 
  • Improved regulatory compliance. Store all sensitive data in one place so that it’s easier to stay in compliance with the GDPR. This also shows employees that you care about their privacy. 

Should Your Business Have an HR Database? 

Chances are, your business can benefit from an HR database. Many small and medium sized businesses are often unsure about this, but based on the benefits above, you can see how these databases can help your business run more efficiently while keeping employee information safe.

In fact, as a smaller business, you probably lack the resources to handle a security breach. Fortunately, you don’t need anything elaborate or expensive to get the job done. You can use Microsoft Access to build an HR database or work with a database expert like Arkware to have one created for you. 

To learn more about HR databases and how they can support your business operations, contact Arkware for a free consultation.

10 Tips and Tricks to Manage an Efficient Database

Databases are very important for businesses because they communicate information, track customer profiles and monitor product inventory. With this information, you can improve efficiency, make data-driven decisions and avoid redundancy. However, your database can only be as reliable as you make it. Below are 10 tips and tricks to help you manage an efficient database. 

1. Back up everything 

Be diligent with your backups to prevent data loss. You can do this by backing up data to the cloud, saving it to an external hard drive or putting it on a flash drive. We recommend backing up to the cloud because it’s safe, secure and automated. 

2. Prioritize data security 

Data must be secured, both physically and virtually. You should also encrypt all data in case you are ever hacked. Be sure to invest in multi-layer protection that includes firewalls, multi-factor authentication, anti-virus software and regular security training. 

3. Ensure compliance 

Make sure you’re aware of the latest data rules and regulations. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, has strict requirements when it comes to collecting and using user data. If you fail to comply with these policies, you could face a hefty fine. 

4. Create a data recovery plan 

Even the best data security policies can fall victim to an attack. Create a data recovery plan so that you know what to do if disaster strikes. Your plan should include things like who is responsible for the data and the steps to follow in the event of a breach. 

5. Standardize data entry policies 

Ensure everyone in the workplace is properly trained on data entry. Even the smallest errors can prove detrimental when working with large sets of data. 

6. Collect only what you need 

Just because you can collect data doesn’t mean you should. Only collect the information you need. This makes it easier to understand your data and stay in compliance with the latest privacy regulations. 

7. Make your data accessible 

Don’t make your database inaccessible to others. Users should have some access to your database so that they can use and apply the information you’re collecting. 

8….But also be smart about granting access 

Of course, you don’t want to grant access to your entire company. Be selective about who you give access to, and modify their permissions so that they’re only able to do certain things in the database. 

9. Keep everything up to date 

Keep your database up to date by adding new data immediately, deleting information that is no longer needed and normalizing your database (this avoids redundant data). Also make sure you follow all updates.

10. Enlist help from a database expert 

If you need help creating, managing or updating your database, contact a database expert for help. Having these services on hand ensures you’re always using the best version of your database. 

Arkware is a database programming company that builds and maintains databases for our customers. Contact us today to learn more about how to manage an efficient database for your business.