This article provides a comparative analysis of Using MS Access for Data Analysis over MS Excel.
MS Access and Excel are often compared because of their similar pronunciation and usage. Both these Microsoft applications are used majorly for storing particular type of data; however, Access is a database management software, whereas Excel is a spreadsheet based software which offers extended data analysis tools to the users. Access is obviously better for managing and storing tons of databases as it combines software-development tools and graphical user interface with relational Microsoft Jet Database Engine.
Here we have compared these two, Microsoft software to find out which one is more efficient for Data Analysis (Spreadsheets vs. Databases).
Empowering Information Workers
Both MS Access and MS Excel being Microsoft office products come with inbuilt features (Information Workers) that motivates workers to work on their own, without using any IT professionals.
Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Advantages
Excel has a small learning curve which makes it easy to use, which automatically makes it very productive. Excel can be used for easily storing data, performing numerical calculations, formatting cells, and adjusting layouts for generating outputs and reports which can be shared with others. It can also be used for making power pivot tables and charts, analysis toolkit, etc. Users can even tweak its layout to categorize different data.
Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet Disadvantages
Yes, it is very easy to create formulas, copy and paste data, make reference cells, and link worksheets or spreadsheets together, on Excel, but as this data gets more complex, it becomes difficult to change and manage these spreadsheets.
Excel spreadsheets are definitely efficient for creating an analysis for limited or one-time data. But they can’t handle the workflow heavy evolving data. It becomes impossible to update or change the formula, as more rows and columns get inserted in these spreadsheets, which can damage the whole data.
Microsoft Access Advantages
These are the following advantages that come with using databases:
- Using multiple tables for normalization and creating Data structure.
- Scalability: Can add infinite records for free
- Referential and Data Integrity
- Generating Queries and Reports
- Automation through VBA Modules and Macros
Validation and Table Structures
Databases can be used for storing information at one place, which can be referenced within multiple places. Plus if the customer’s information is changed, the changes are automatically updated and implemented in the referenced places.
Databases offer Free Records
One of the main differences in Access and Excel is that in the database, users get records for free. A well-designed record can help the users in easily locating their data anytime they want.
Data and Referential integrity
Access databases also provide several tools for maintaining data quality. Users can easily add Lookup lists as well as validation rules on individual records and fields on table level in Access. Forms can be customized with additional rules when the user enters his/her data in order to respond to their events or selection.
Queries and Reports
Microsoft Access reports and queries are used for slicing and dicing the data which can be present in detail. It helps in allowing the user in revisiting and revising his/her data whenever he/she wants.
Automation using VBA Modules and Macros
While using VBA module or macro, the user can use DoCmd.TransferSpreadsheet command for exporting data to an Excel spreadsheet (via acExport option) from Access database. The TransferSpreadsheet command plus acImport option are also used for importing spreadsheets into Access table.
Microsoft Access Disadvantages
Microsoft Access demands more training and skills from its users. It can be complex for people without any programming background to Figure out how they can define normalized tables, or link them together, or change the structure of their database information etc. Further it can crash quite often if its size gets bloated. While working on MS Access, it is advisable to keep an Access fix tool nearby to deal with any incidents of data corruption.
Vivian Stevens is a data recovery expert in DataNumen, Inc., which is the world leader in data recovery technologies, including sql repair and excel recovery software products. For more information visit www.datanumen.com