Thorny problems converting Access 2003 databases
that became a liability after April 2014

Converting Access 2003 Databases

April 2014 marked Microsoft’s end to support for Access 2003. Hence no more automatic upgrades and patches beyond that date. The result: an Access 2003 database presenting a potential security risk.

It follows that such a risk represents a failure to meet the requirements of certain auditing bodies — per the Data Protection Act, for example (with the possible consequence of withdrawal or suspension of certification).

DMW can convert your Access 2003 database for you and will be pleased to work with you if you want to make improvements as part of the process.

Slow-running Converted Access Databases

Some DMW clients have been disappointed with the speed of their databases following their attempts at conversions.

DMW has built up experience of what should be done about it if your conversion suffers from this problem.

Converting Access 2003 Databases to Access 2010, 2013 or 2016

There is a convert database feature in Access 2010, 2013 and 2016. It is the experience of clients to who DMW has spoken, and who have attempted conversion themselves, that the process rarely completes without some errors.

Not all errors get logged as part of the conversion process. So what needs to be done to eradicate the errors is not made obvious. DMW has examples of where errors came to light only when supposedly converted databases crashed during use.

DMW has built up routines for trapping errors during the conversion.

Remember: always keep back-ups of the entire original database before attempting any conversion.

An Opportunity to Improve Usability

If now you are upgrading to Access 2010, 2013 or 2016, then your database may have been in use for some years. So you will have had time to identify improvements you would like to make; and time to assess the relevance of some bits that nobody uses any longer and are causing clutter.

Also, users will have views on what would make their database more relevant to their work than it is in its current form.

Perhaps, therefore, this is the best time to review the database with an upgrade in mind.

An Opportunity to Gain Business Advantage

A long-standing Access 2003 database — in which a lot of time and effort has been invested collecting and inputting data — may not be yielding nearly enough information to make you feel you have achieved an acceptable level of advantage from all that investment.

As part of your conversion process you might consider adding beefed up analysis and reporting in order to increase returns from your investment.

Please ask DMW if you want someone with ideas from the outside to join in brainstorming the possibilities.

Help Converting Access VBA

There are changes in the Access VBA as you move up through the versions. Some of these changes are quite major ones. Some offer increased functionality that you may wish to exploit as part of a conversion upgrade.

Access's convert-database feature takes a stab at converting your VBA code. In DMW's experience, conversions are very far from perfect. In many instances conversion errors result from poor quality code in the original database, something with which a push-button conversion is not going to cope.

You might want to talk to DMW before you press the button or if you want Access VBA help in general.

Converting Access MDE Files

If your database is in the form of an MDE file, there are utilities advertised that claim to unlock MDEs. Once unlocked, so the claim goes, you can make changes to your MDE.

DMW have tried one unlocker program that gets mentioned a lot on the Web. In those Access 2003 MDEs that DMW has 'unlocked' using it, the majority of forms and reports will either not go into design view or will not allow changes to all control objects.

Furthermore, none of the VBA modules, or of the modules behind forms and reports, is rendered accessible.

So now may be the best time to review the functionality of your database prior to offering to tender for the rewrite. Please contact DMW if you want to discuss.