Can I share an Access database using Google Drive, OneDrive or DropBox?

The simple answer is “No”, it either isn’t going to work, or it will work but you risk corruption, data loss, and poor performance; plus there are better, more reliable, ways of sharing your database.

Why can’t I share Access using Cloud Storage?

When you edit a document e.g. Word or Excel saved in cloud storage such as Google Drive or OneDrive, you’re basically creating a 2nd copy which is then reloaded on top of the original when you save. This works OK with documents, but databases are far more complex. If multiple users tried to open an Access database they would each end up with their own copy, and the last person to save would wipe out any changes made by the other users.

The other reason Access won’t work with cloud storage is that it is designed to work on a fast, local network, or stand alone on a PC. Access needs to make continuous read/write transactions to its backend database. Even though modern fibre broadband is potentially as fast as an office network used to be, it is still not reliable enough, and the slightest packet loss could corrupt your database.

I read a good analogy online with someone comparing it with the teleport in Start Trek, imagine you’re half way through the fizzy shimmery bit when your connection to the planet goes down, Scotty would be in bits, literally. The same thing would happen with your Access records if the internet had a “blip”.

How else can I share Access using the cloud?

To decide on the best solution for sharing Access you first need to look at how your organisation works.

  • Where are your users based? Are they all together in the same building, or are they in different sites, working at home, or out on the road?
  • What IT equipment do you already have?
  • What devices do your users use? PCs, Macs, Laptops, Tablets?
  • What were the reasons you wanted to share Access using OneDrive or DropBox before you read this article?

If your company just runs Windows PCs and has some IT equipment already in place, a network, a file server or NAS, then the simplest solution will be to share Access over the network. You should split the database so that copies of the front-end sit on users’ PCs and the back-end sits on a file server or NAS. You will get better performance this way and reduce corruption or data loss issues. See this article to discover more about splitting your database.

If you were looking for ways to share Access using Google Drive, DropBox, or OneDrive then chances are you need the flexibility of cloud computing. Maybe you have users in multiple locations, or no on-site IT equipment, possibly you have users running other operating systems like Macs, iPads or Android devices. In this case a good solution is to use a hosted remote desktop service, or hosted desktop for short.

A hosted desktop is a bit like having all your PCs, your local network, a file server and a full team of IT guys to look after it all, all in one box, accessed over the Internet. On a hosted desktop the database (both front-end and back-end) sits on the remote desktop server. Unlike trying to run Access using Google Drive, everything stays on the remote desktop server, nothing is copied or run on your local PC, so there is no risk of corruption caused by poor internet.

The only thing that does travel over the Internet are your keyboard and mouse clicks one way and the screen refreshes the other. Even if your internet speed is really slow it only has to keep up with your typing. If you did lose your internet connection, the remote desktop and the Access database would just sit there waiting for you, and will be back, just as you left it, once your Internet recovers.

Probably the only benefit of using Access with DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and the like is a way of saving backups of your database, i.e. you’re just copying files to the cloud storage, never opening them.

Contact us about running Access on a hosted desktop

Your Office Anywhere have been hosting Access databases on remote desktops since before anyone was using the term “cloud computing”, so have developed some expertise in hosting these applications. You can take a look at our microsoft access online hosting page or have a chat with a technical sales consultant who can talk you through the best way of architecting the solution. You can also try a quick demo of the solution or upload your own database to a test server to try it for yourself. To find out more visit our contact page here or call us on 01282 500 318.

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