Help on hand for risky, obsolete, Access 97 databases

Help Converting Access 97 Databases

Microsoft has not provided support for Microsoft Access 97 for some time. So for how much longer you will find tools for converting your Access 97 databases included in the latest versions of Microsoft Office remains to be seen.

DMW intends to continue to offer Access 97 conversion services for the foreseeable future.

Slow-running Converted Access Databases

Some clients have been disappointed with the speed of their databases following conversion to Access 2007 and 2010.

DMW has built up experience of what should be taken into account if your converted database suffers from this problem.

Converting Databases to Access 2003

Because of Microsoft's withdrawal in April 2014 of support for Office 2003, DMW Consultancy Ltd do not recommend conversion of databases into Access 2003.

Converting Access 97 and 2003 to Access 2007 or 2010

There is a convert database feature in both Access 2007 and 2010. In DMW's experience, this rarely completes the conversion without some errors.

Not all errors get logged for attention as part of the conversion process. DMW have examples of where they came to light only when supposedly converted databases crashed during use.

DMW has built up a list of things we take into account in our attempts to prevent errors permeating the conversion.

An Opportunity to Improve Usability

If now you are upgrading to Access 2007 or Access 2010, then your database must have been in use for many years. So you will have had time to identify improvements you would like to make and to assess the relevance of some bits that nobody uses any longer.

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 mount a review with a mind to redeveloping sections on the database as part of the upgrade.

An Opportunity to Gain Business Advantage

A long-standing database — in which a lot of time and effort has been invested collecting and inputting information — may not be yielding nearly enough return on all that investment.

For example, a client created their own database for recording orders received. The database held over seven years’ worth of orders. They approached DMW to learn how they might take full advantage of all this information.

The sorts of things we made the database report included:

  • Patterns of seasonal variations in orders
  • Products with high levels of returns
  • Products yielding exceptional profit
  • Predicted stock levels
  • Products that could be dropped from the catalogue without harm to the bottom line
  • Patterns of delayed delivery due to insufficient stock
  • Problematic customers
  • Lapsed customers with who we could re-establish contact
  • Most profitable market sectors.

As part of your conversion process you might consider adding beefed up reporting so as to increase returns on investment in your database. Ask DMW if you want someone with ideas from the outside to brainstorm 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.

The convert-database feature takes a stab at converting your VBA code. In DMW's experience, conversion are very far from perfect. You might want to talk to us before you press the button or if you want Access VBA help in general.

Converting Access MDE Files

If your database is in MDE file format, 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 97 MDEs that DMW have 'unlocked' using it, the majority of forms and reports will not go into design view. Furthermore, none of the VBA modules is rendered accessible.

So a conversion may be the best time to review the functionality of your database prior to offering to tender for the rewrite.