Conversion of Microsoft Access databases to latest versions of Access

Converting Microsoft Access Databases

April 2014 marked the end to Microsoft’s support for Office 2003, Access 2003 included. So after that date no more automatic upgrades and patches for Access 2003 and its predecessors Access 97, 2000 and 2002(XP).

This means that any database that has not been created using Access 2007 or later, or has not been converted accordingly, becomes a potential security risk.

Such a risk represents a failure to meet the requirements of certain auditing bodies — anything that relates to the Data Protection Act, for example — with the likely consequence of withdrawal or suspension of certification.

Microsoft’s timetable for Access 2007: withdrawal of service pack support, January 13 2009; end of extended support, October 10 2017. Microsoft recommends migration to the current version of Access before the support end dates.

DMW can assess your Access databases for what it will take to convert them, can perform the conversion for you; and will be pleased to work with you if you want to include improvements as part of the process.

Converting Access Databases to Access 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016

There is a convert-database feature in Access 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016. It is the experience of DMW clients, who have attempted conversion themselves, that the process rarely completes without some errors.

Furthermore the latest versions of Access will not recognise databases created in certain earlier versions. So the convert-database feature is useless in some circumstances.

Even if you get the convert-database feature to work, not all conversion errors get logged as part of the process. So you are left not knowing exactly what might have gone wrong with the conversion. DMW have heard from clients of errors that came to light only when their supposedly converted databases crashed during use.

Based on experience gained through numerous conversions, DMW have put together routines for trapping errors and dealing with them as part of the convertion process.

Menus, Toolbars and Ribbons

Access 97, 2000, 2002(XP) and 2003 had menus and toolbars. Access 2007 replaced these with the user interface ribbon. The ribbon features in Access 2010, 2013 and 2016.

If the database you are intending to convert has custom menus and toolbars, then be prepared to do some reading up on how to accommodate these.

Unless your converted database is for very short-term use only, DMW recommend going for a ribbon-only conversion, dispensing with menus and toolbars altogether.

User-Level Security

User-level security provided for permissions to be allocated to users of your database determining what rights they have to work with or change the Access objects that comprise the database, and the data it contains.

User-level security, included in many databases that DMW has seen and that were created using Access up to and including version 2003, was removed as a feature from Access 2007.

Access 2007 introduced new file formats — such as .accdb — none of which would accommodate user-level security. So conversion of a secured database can throw up some challenges to the uninitiated. DMW can help you address some of the resulting issues.

Improving Your Database and What You Get From It

If now you are upgrading to Access 2007, 2010, 2013 or 2016, then you may have many ideas about improving it for its users and about gaining more out it in support of improved business performance.

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

Perhaps, therefore, this is the best time to review the database with an upgrade in mind. Please consider asking DMW if you want someone with ideas from the outside to join in brainstorming the possibilities.

DMW has more to say on the converting Access 97 databases and converting Access 2003 databases pages.

Help Converting Access Macros and VBA Code

There are changes in macro functionality, and in the Access Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programming language, 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 macros and VBA code. In DMW's experience, conversions are very far from perfect. In many instances conversion errors result from poor implementation 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 help with programming 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 97 and 2003 MDEs that DMW has 'unlocked' using it, the conversion did not go perfectly and none of the VBA code residing in modules became 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.