Microsoft Access Front End | Back End | Explained

What is a Front End database? What is a Back End database?

Database systems are comprised of a Front End and Back End. The term Front End refers to the user interface which consists of the screen forms and reports. The Back End has the tables that store the data, including the relationships between the tables, data queries and other behind the scenes technology that accepts information from and displays information to the user via the Front End.

In a Microsoft Access database, it starts off as a single Microsoft Access computer file containing both the Front End and Back End. The file extension is .mdb prior to Access 2007 and .accdb for Access 2007 and later. This single file arrangement works fine for a single user. If the database has more than one user, it should be “split” into a separate Front End file (FE) and Back End File (BE). This will allow the database to operate well for up to 10 concurrent users and if the BE does not need to be used over the Internet. So, it works fine on computers networked in the same office.

If some or all of the database users will be working with the database via a web browser Front End instead of a Microsoft Access FE a different process is used to create the FE. A web browser based Front End cannot be created in Microsoft Access it has to be programmed using languages such as VB.NET or C#.NET in Microsoft Visual Studio.

If the database will be storing more than 2GB of data, you will need a more powerful BE than the one included with Microsoft Access. Microsoft offers Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Express Edition, which can store up to 10GB of data. Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Express Edition is also needed to support users working with the database via a web browser. Microsoft SQL Server Express is free and serves the needs of 95% of WSI’s customers. Larger more powerful paid versions of Microsoft SQL Server are available for those with greater needs. WSI also offers a "cloud" version knows as Microsoft Azure SQL.

WSI does not recommend SharePoint or Office 365 as a FE or BE for your database. The reason is that Microsoft limited the functionality of SharePoint and Office 365 to inhibit people from creating malicious software that would be on Microsoft’s servers.

It is universally accepted that file sharing services such as Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox etc. should not be used to make an Access database accessible via the Internet. Contact WSI to discuss what options for sharing your Access database via the Internet are right for you.

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