Access on the web

Visit almost any database forum and ask whether you should use Access to support a data-driven Web site and you're bound to start a wildfire! It's almost as much fun as watching a debate on the superiority of surrogate versus natural primary keys. You see, many database and IT professionals reject Access as nothing more than a toy, but I know too many Access developers making good money to accept that.

Now, Microsoft maintains that Access can handle 255 concurrent users. I think the trick to using Access successfully in a multiuser environment is understanding the difference between concurrent users and concurrent connections.

A concurrent connection is a processed request -- some sort of action. A concurrent user is simply a user who is connected to the database. A concurrent user may consume none or several connections. The key with any database, not just Access, is to open connections only as needed and then close those connections as soon as the request is completed.

I'd like to hear from anybody using Access to support a data-driven Web site:

  • Is it standing up to usage?
  • Would you use Access again and why?

Personally, if I had to make this decision now, I'd go with SQL Server Express, but that doesn't help those of you with existing Access databases on the Web.