When developing a website using either classic ASP or ASP.NET then you are most likely going to use some sort of database back end for your website, and one of the options that is available to you to help you fulfill this requirement is Microsoft Access.
Microsoft Access is one of the best known database systems available and although it is only available mainly for desktop use, it can still be used successfully with small websites that are hosted on a Windows based web hosting platform. Microsoft Access is developed by Microsoft meaning that websites which use the application can only be hosted on a Windows hosting platform, as otherwise they won’t be able to function correctly. Windows web hosting services can be purchased from a number of different web hosting providers and can consist of Windows shared hosting, Windows reseller hosting, Windows VPS hosting and Windows dedicated server hosting which means that there will always be one Windows web hosting package that should be able to meet your requirements effectively. Microsoft Access can also be used in conjunction with other programming languages in some cases, and when it comes to Windows web hosting you may wish to consider a web hosting service that will support multiple scripting languages so that you can make the most of what Microsoft Access has to offer.
If you are looking into using Microsoft Access then it is important for you to make sure that you are able to access the desktop application in one way or another so that you can manage your database effectively; you will also find that in order to create a Microsoft Access database you will need to have the application installed anyway. Microsoft Access isn’t the right database system for you to use if one of your prime concerns is security; although a Microsoft Access database can have a password applied to it, it is stored in the form of a file which can make it easy for a hacker to download the entire contents of your database, and for most hackers it can be pretty easy for them to crack passwords. Microsoft Access isn’t the most scalable of database systems available which means that you should consider something more substantial such as Microsoft SQL Server if you require a database backend for a rather busy website; although Microsoft Access can be good in some cases, you may find that your website can become extremely slow if it becomes busy.
What should I look for in a web hosting package if I wish to host Microsoft Access databases?
When choosing a web hosting package that you want to host a Microsoft Access database on it is important for you to consider only Windows web hosting packages, simply because it is only Windows servers that will be able to host Microsoft Access databases properly. The main thing that you should look for in a web hosting package that you are thinking of using for the hosting of a Microsoft Access database is whether the web hosting package itself is a Windows website hosting package; it is important for you to only choose a Windows web hosting package as other web hosting platforms aren’t able to support Microsoft Access databases.
The amount of disk space that you have assigned to the web hosting account that you are considering is another major factor to consider, as your Microsoft Access database will use up more disk space the larger it is; however, you should never let your database become too large as you will find that your website will be slow to load and you could also affect the performance of other websites that are hosted on the same server as yours. When considering a Windows web hosting package it may also be beneficial to have a look at which scripting languages your web hosting provider will support; although most Windows web hosting packages will support classic ASP and ASP.NET web pages by default, support for additional languages such as PHP may be included as standard. In summary, the main factors for you to consider in a web hosting package for it to be classed as fit for Microsoft Access database hosting include:
- Windows hosting platform – in order for a web hosting package to be suitable for the hosting of a Microsoft Access database, it will need to be based on a Windows web hosting platform as Access is a Microsoft product which means that it will only run in Windows based hosting environments – other web hosting platforms including those that are Linux based are unable to host Microsoft Access databases properly because they lack the necessary drivers to make communication between scripts and Microsoft Access databases work, they will also lack support for classic ASP and ASP.NET based web pages and scripts
- Disk space – it is also important for you to consider the amount of disk space that is available with the Windows web hosting account that you are looking into using as this can restrict how big your database can become – the bigger your Microsoft Access database is, the more disk space it is going to use up and because of this it is wise for you to keep an eye on how big your database is as a large Microsoft Access can restrict the performance of your website and can also cause performance problems for other websites and web hosting accounts that are located on the same hosting server as yours
- Scripting language support – you should also make sure that the web hosting service that you have chosen is able to support classic ASP and ASP.NET web pages, mainly because these are the two main languages used in conjunction with Microsoft Access – however, additional programming languages may also be supported by your web hosting provider on its Windows web hosting packages, and since other scripting languages as well as classic ASP and ASP.NET also have support for Microsoft Access databases, you may find yourself developing website in other languages for use with Microsoft Access databases.
So all in all, you should only consider Windows web hosting services if you want to choose a web hosting package which you can be sure will support your Microsoft Access database; it is important for you to be aware of the fact that other web hosting platforms don’t support Microsoft Access databases. Although you may wish to use other scripting languages in conjunction with your Microsoft Access database, it is recommended that you stick to using classic ASP and ASP.NET in order to achieve the best results when using a Microsoft Access database in a dynamic website environment.
Are there any disadvantages to using Microsoft Access as my database backend?
Although using a Microsoft Access database as the backend for your website may seem like a good idea if you are a beginner, when it comes to using Microsoft Access for larger websites and for those who have a bit more technical knowledge, it may not be such a good idea. The main disadvantage of using Microsoft Access as the backend for your website is the fact that you need to purchase the desktop application in order for you to be able to create and manage any Microsoft Access databases; without the desktop application you will be unable to create or manage Microsoft Access databases properly, although if you have purchased a pre-coded application which uses a Microsoft Access database then you can use that web application to manage most of your database records.
Using Microsoft Access for a large website isn’t recommended either because it isn’t the most scalable of database systems, and if you are looking into using a database system with a large website then you may wish to consider Microsoft SQL Server; Microsoft Access databases aren’t served through a service, and because they are file based and are located in your web hosting account you they can be easily compromised by determined hackers. A Microsoft Access database isn’t very secure either, since although a database can have a password applied to it the database file can easily be downloaded meaning that the password could be cracked with some force; it is because of this that you should never use a Microsoft Access database to store any information which could be of a sensitive nature. In summary, the main disadvantages of using Microsoft Access as the backend for your website include:
- Need for the desktop application – in order to create or manage Microsoft Access databases you need to have access to the database desktop application as otherwise there is no other way to effectively manage your Microsoft Access databases – however, if you are a coder then there is a way around this as you could create a web interface to interact with your Microsoft Access database so that you can manage the records that it has stored, and if necessary you should then be able to edit and delete these records, but in any case you will find that the most effective way of managing a Microsoft Access database is by using the desktop application
- Scalability – Microsoft Access isn’t the most scalable of database backends available because it is called as a file and not through a service as is the case with SQL based database servers, and this can also mean that you are limited as to what you can do with Microsoft Access – when using Microsoft Access in conjunction with a large website you are likely to face performance issues, and if you feel that you do need a database backend for a larger website then you may wish to consider Microsoft’s other database system, Microsoft SQL Server, as by using the Express edition you won’t have to pay a penny for advance performance
- Security – if you are looking for a database application which you can use securely for the storage of confidential data, Microsoft Access is one database application which you shouldn’t consider in such a situation – a Microsoft Access database can be easily downloaded from your web space by a hacker who knows what they’re doing, and even though you may have applied a password to your database you will find that the password itself is easy to crack when done so properly – SQL based databases on the other hand are much harder to hack and require a certain level of skill, whereas hacking into a Microsoft Access database is fairly easy.
You will find that the disadvantages of Microsoft Access mean that it is unsuitable for use in a situation where you know your website is going to receive a lot of traffic as Microsoft Access isn’t designed for this, and if it is used in such a situation then you are likely to find that the server that the database is hosted on will become easily overloaded. As an alternative to Microsoft Access in web hosting environments you may wish to consider more scalable SQL based database servers such as Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL Server.
In conclusion, Microsoft Access hosting is easy to find as all you need to do is find a Windows web hosting package that is able to meet your requirements appropriately. Microsoft Access is a powerful database system but just isn’t powerful enough to be sustainable when used with busy websites; however, when developing websites for use with Microsoft Access databases you will find that it is supported by several different scripting languages which can make things easier for you as a web developer in some cases.