While building a software application, the question arises where will you store your data and how? The traditional approach is a simple text file or CSV file which is not a good choice in today’s big data world. The solution is Database Management System(DBMS) which allows different user application programs to concurrently access the same Database. A Database Management system(DBMS) is a simpler, easier, reliable, faster, secure, and powerful software tool for Storing, Managing, and Retrieving data, and in this article, you will gain information about migrating databases from MS Access to SQL Server.

We will also look at the different features of Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, and the steps for migrating a database from Microsoft Access to SQL Server. Read along to find out in-depth information about migrating databases from Microsoft Access to SQL Server.

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What is Microsoft Access?

MS Access to SQL Server: MS Access
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Microsoft Access is a Database Management System (DBMS) by Microsoft that integrates a graphical user interface with the relational Access Database Engine (ACE) and software development tools. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite of apps, and it’s available as part of the Professional and above editions or independently.

Microsoft Access uses the Access Database Engine to store data in its own format (formerly Jet Database Engine). It can also immediately import or link data from other programs and databases.

Key Features of Microsoft Access

Some of the key features of Microsoft Access are as follows:

1) Ideal for individual users and smaller teams

Microsoft Access is a straightforward desktop application that does not require any special hardware or software to run. As a result, it is ideal for individual users and smaller teams who do not require larger and more complex databases at an additional cost.

Where the need for a database is not very high, Microsoft Access offers numerous advantages over database solutions such as SQL Server and Oracle. With the help of Microsoft Access, many smaller teams can now avoid purchasing massive resources for their basic and simple needs. Furthermore, unlike traditional client-server databases, they do not require anyone to administer or monitor Access in MS Access.

2) Easier than a client-server database to understand & use

Many applications that were previously relegated to a client-server database have been taken over by personal computer applications such as Microsoft Access. Access users do not need to undergo any special training to learn how to use the application. Using a readily available, well-organized set of templates, creating and administering a database is quite simple and easy.

Users of Microsoft Excel will find Access easier to learn because it is similar to Excel, even though the fundamental concepts of databases are vastly different.

3) Allows developers to create custom solutions using VBA code

Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is a programming language that can be used with Microsoft Access. Access developers can use VBA code to create custom solutions for their databases. VBA code is a powerful programming language that consists of a code/command for specific programs.

When the program is run, the instructions will cause actions to be taken automatically. This powerful feature enables developers to transform simple custom end-user solutions into professional solutions by incorporating advanced automation, data validation, error trapping, and multi-user support into their databases.

4) Allows building & publishing Web Databases easily

Microsoft Access users can either design their own database or use a readily available template to create a database that meets their needs. Those who are tech-savvy and familiar with Web Databases would ideally design their own database by creating a blank database and then creating the tables that their database would require in MS Access.

Those who require assistance or are unsure of which tables their project will necessitate can make use of the templates provided. Microsoft Access templates include a large collection of databases that are commonly used by users.

5) Allows output Reports in PDF format

Through the EXTERNAL DATA tab on the ribbon, MS Access users can create reports in electronic image files. Because the PDF file can be opened in Adobe Reader, these reports can be viewed even by users who do not have Access installed on their system.

Access applications have been significantly improved as a result of the reports and databases being shared in PDF format. Users appreciate this output type, which is a welcome addition because it makes it convenient and simple to distribute reports via email, saving paper, and contributing to green computing.

What is SQL Server?

MS Access to SQL Server: SQL Server logo
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SQL Server is a Relational Database Management System(RDBMS). It is also known as Microsoft SQL Server or sometimes as MS SQL. SQL Server is developed by Microsoft and was initially released on April 24, 1989. Its stable release is SQL Server 2019 released on 4 November 2019. MSSQL is written in programming languages like C and C++.

SQL Server is based on the relational model introduced by E. F. Codd. In RDBMS data is stored in tables and the relationships among the data are maintained between tables. In tables, data is organized in rows and columns format. Each column represents a particular field or feature and each row in the table represents an entry or a record.

Microsoft SQL Server offers a variety of editions with different functionally: Express, Enterprise, Standard, Web, Developer. Express edition is freeware for small and entry-level applications while others are licensed-based editions used for bigger projects on commercial levels based on the service required. SQL Server supports XML data type format and dynamic management views.

To install SQL Server click here.

Key Features of SQL Server

MS Access to SQL Server: SQL Server architecture
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The main features of SQL Server that make it highly usable are:

1) Cloud Database Support

Microsoft SQL Server offers editions that can be integrated with Microsoft cloud or Azure SQL with built-in security and manageability. Cloud database support makes SQL Server highly available, fast failover with minimum uptime.

2) Ease of Management

Microsoft SQL Servers can easily be used with Windows and Linux systems. SQL Server deployment and its management is easy with Kubernetes.

3) High Security

Data in SQL Server is encrypted and highly secured. Schemas and Tables can be password protected easily and can be accessed with permissions only.

4) End-to-End Business Data Solutions

SQL Server mainly focuses on commercial needs so it provides end-to-end business data solutions. Microsoft SQL Server offers tools for Data Administration,  ETL solutions, Online Analytical Processing(OLAP), and Data Mining purposes. It additionally provides Option Reporting, Interactive Analysis, and Visual Data Exploration using SQL Server BI tools.

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Steps For Migrating Database from MS Access to SQL Server

Because Microsoft Access ODBC drivers are only available on Windows, Microsoft Windows is necessary. The destination SQL Server can be on the same system or on another computer in your network.

In this section, we are going to learn how to migrate MS Access database to MS SQL Server using SQL Server Migration Assistant for Access, also known as SSMA for Access.


There are a few things to check off the list before you can begin your migration:

  • Have access to SSMA for Access.
  • Check if the source environment is supported.
  • Finally, get the required connectivity and other permissions for the source and the destination.

Step 1: Create an Assessment

  • First, you’ll need to open SSMA for Access.
  • Next, select File and then proceed to select New Project.
  • Once done, you’ll have to create a project name and enter the location to save your project. Select, SQL Server from the options in the dropdown as the destination and hit OK.
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  • In the next step, you’ll need to Add Databases and consequently, select the database that you want to add.
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  • Once done, you’ll need to right-click on the database you want to assess and hit on Create Report, in the Access Metadata Explorer.
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  • For any insights on the conversion statistics, errors or warnings, you’ll need to review the HTML report. If you’d like to, you can open the report in Excel too. The storage location of the report is as follows:

Step 2: Validate the Default Data Type Mappings

  • Go to the Tools menu and hit on Project Settings.
  • Next, you’ll have to select the Type Mappings tab as shown in the image below.
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  • Select the table in the Access Metadata Explorer to change the type mapping for each table.

Step 3: Convert Database Objects

  • Enter the connection details after selecting Connect to SQL Server.
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  • The next step would be to right-click on the database in Access Metadata Explorer, and hit Convert Schema.
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  • Next, in the output pane, select Review Results, if you wish to take a look at the errors in the Error List pane.
  • Finally, select Save Project to save the project locally.

Step 4: Run the Migration Process

  • Connect to SQL Server and enter the connection details, if you hadn’t already.
  • Right-click on the database in SQL Server Metadata Explorer and choose Synchronize with Database to publish the schema.
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  • In the next step, consider reviewing the mapping between the source project and your destination.
  • In this step, you’ll be finally be migrating your data. Right-click the database you wish to migrate in Access Metadata Explorer and choose Migrate Data. Note that if you want to migrate the entire database, you’ll have to check the box that’s next to the database name. However, if you want to migrate data from individual tables, you need to expand Tables after expanding the database, and then check the boxes next to the tables. Clear the boxes if you want to omit any data.
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  • At this point your migration is complete, and you can check the Data Migration Report for a comprehensive view of the process.
  • Finally, validate the migration by reviewing your data and schema by connecting to your SQL Server instance using SQL Server Management Studio.
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In this article, you have learned about Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, and their key features. This article also provided information on the steps for migrating a database from Microsoft Access to SQL Server in detail. For further information on MongoDB vs SQL Server, A Guide to SQL Server Migration, Setting up Airflow SQL Server Integration, you can visit the following links.

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