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Database sharing

A

a okadmin

New Member
Hi,

It has been a while since my last post.

I am trying to find out the best way to make an Access database both secure and accessible to several remote users. I've heard that it is possible to host the database if your hosting company supports Access but that there can be security issues. Does anyone have any experience of this or any suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
Clare.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Clare,

Do you have any particular reason for using Access?

In general, if you need a database for a web-hosted application, I'd recommend a proper backend database such as SQL Server, Oracle or perhaps MySQL. These products all support the high transaction rates, and have security features built in. Also, MySQL and SQL Server are widely supported by hosting companies (and MySQL has the advantage of being free).

By contrast, Access is more suited to small, local systems with a low transaction rate, where security isn't the prime concern.

I'm not saying you should definitely not use Access in this case, but it's wouldn't be my first choice.

Mike
 
Jason

Jason

New Member
I have no experience myself using Access online.
I have used it plenty of times to create stand-alone databse applications that are shared and used within companies. This is what Access is particulary good at as it is quick and comes with it's own user interface design environment.

As you say though, you can use Access online as a backend database for your webserver.
Take a look at
SQL database hosting online: SQL vs Access

Best of luck

Jason
Popcorn Solutions » IT support for home and business users in Edinburgh
'Get the Popcorn in!'
 
stugster

stugster

Active Member
Verified Member
Clare,

What kind of data is it you're storing? Is there a PHP/MySQL solution out there that you can set up on a web-based system that'll work for you?
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
Hi All,

Thanks for your replies. The database in question is a membership database which has been built and used predominantly by one person. We are looking for a quick, easy, secure and not too technical way of allowing other users (who all work remotely) to access, update and query the data. At the moment we are considering and trialling MS Sharepoint and Zoho Creator. I know very little about these solutions. Does anyone have any experience or views?

Thanks,
Clare.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Clare,

No, Sharepoint is not a database. Forget that one.

Zoho Creator might be a better bet. I can't comment on it in detail, but it's certainly in the right direction. With tools like Zoho, you don't have to worry about hosting, configuring the database, or any other technical details. It's all done for you.

I believe you can sign up for a free version of Zoho, which limits you to just a couple of users. It should be enough to help you find out if it's right for you.

Mike
 
Canary Dwarf

Canary Dwarf

New Member
Access is easy to implement and if it's just the data you want to share, the easiest option might be to host the database online and query it through the web, which, as the others haev said can be done securely robustlly with MySQL for example. All queries from remote users can be made to the online database on a single server.

You might also look at an online contact management system such as Highrise, all remotely hosted and already built for you. (Highrise: Small Business CRM, Web-Based Contact Manager)
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
Hi,

Thanks again for the replies.

Mike - though Sharepoint is not a database in itself, am I right in thinking it allows you to share an MS Access databse? I've seen some functionality in Access 2007 which suggests that it is possible.

Regards.
Clare.
 
stugster

stugster

Active Member
Verified Member
How good are you at Access? Can you get a print-out of the relationships and send me it (tools > relationships)?

I personally believe that the best solution for you would be a PHP/MySQL system. But I'd need to see how clever your DB is first :)
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Clare,

Sharepoint is essentially a collaborative tool - a tool for sharing various kinds of data. It is certainly possible to use it to host a shared membership database, but it's a complex product, and would be overkill for such a relatively simple application. It also requires a fair amount of technical know-how, plus you need either a hosting company that is able to support it or the technical skills to host it yourself.

It seems to me there are two possibe appoaches you could take:

1. Look for a product like Zoho - or one of a dozen similar products. (Try a web search for on-line membership system, perhaps.) These are entirely non-technical; they're easy to set up; in most cases, you don't need to install any software and never any hardware; and you can be up and running in a couple of hours. The main disadvantage is that you are limited in the amount of customisation that's possible.

2. Develop you own system based on a common database, of which MySQL is the best example. MySQL is readily available, free of charge, from most hosting companies. It is well supported, and will easily cope with your requirements.

The disadvantage of this approach (and it's a big one) is that you will need to develop some software to run your system. A database like MySQL is merely the storage. You also need a way to enter your data, query it, keep it up to date, generate reports, etc. In short, you need a front end. You don't need anything complicated - possibly just a few web forms if your needs are simple. But don't make the mistake of thinking that you can set up a database and immediately be able to access and update your data.

If you have the necessary technical skills, and are willing to invest some time in developing the front end (or some money to pay someone to do it),option 2 will give you a better product.

But if you just want to get up and running quickly, option 1 is a better bet. (Note that I'm not specifically recommending Zoho, but it is a good example of the class of product I have in mind.)

Hope this makes sense.

Mike
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
That's great Mike, I shall have a think about it - thanks!
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
How good are you at Access? Can you get a print-out of the relationships and send me it (tools > relationships)?

I personally believe that the best solution for you would be a PHP/MySQL system. But I'd need to see how clever your DB is first :)
Thanks Stuart. I will try to give this a go and let you see what you think.
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
Hi Stuart,

Was thinking, we need to be able to create new queries/reports etc. fairly frequently. I've never used a PHP or MySQL system before and to my knowledge neither has anyone else involved with the databse. How user-friendly and flexible is it?
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Clare,

I'm sure Stuart will give you a good answer, but, in the meantime, if I may jump in again ...

You asked about the user-friendliness of PHP and MySQL. The point about these products are that they are not end-user tools. They are intended for programmers. PHP is a programming language. MySQL is a database that stores the data which the PHP program (or other program) accesses. So there is no question of them being user-friendly or otherwise.

Looking back over this thread, a point has struck me. You were originally using Access for your membership system. Access is a database. You now want a better membership system. So you conclude that you want a better database.

This is an understandable mistake, especially given that Access is unusual in that it also has end-user features such as forms and reports.

In fact, what you should be looking for is not a better database, but rather a better membership system. It's true that a membership system will be built on a database, but that should not concern you. It's the system that's important to you, not the tools used to build it.

If you were to develop your own membership system (or pay someone to do it for you),the choice of database and programming language will become important. But that's unlikely to be necessary in your case.

So, to summarise, focus your search on a membership system that meets your needs. Don't get sidetracked by worrying about databases or programming languages.

Mike
 
stugster

stugster

Active Member
Verified Member
Don't really need to add anything more than what Mike's already said :)
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
Thanks Mike and Stuart.

I think I need to sit down with the relevant people, or have a discussion to get a clear picture of what is required as I am getting a bit lost in all the possibilities. However, Mike's post has made things a bit clearer so I will try and keep focussed.

Thanks again.
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
The option we are now looking at is to share the data in a spreadsheet using a Document Sharing solution such as Google Docs or Zoho Docs. We would then design our queries in Access and pull in the data to run report from the spreadsheet. We would also allow people to update the data directly and take a regular backup of the file. Any new records would be uploaded by one Administrator.

So how about document sharing and security - any experience or knowledge of these free systems?

Thanks again - I know I have asked a lot of questions......
 
stugster

stugster

Active Member
Verified Member
This sounds to me like a very complicated and potentially disasterous way of managing your information to be honest Clare.

Can you give me an idea of what information you're using, what kind of reports you need, and all that kinda gumph? There might be, as Mike has suggested, an open-source/alternative system to Access for you to use. There's also the potential for designing a custom one.
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
Hi,

The organisation is a charity. The information contains details of members and volunteers, most of whom have completed one or two training courses, details of when they joined, when they started training, when they finished, who their tutor is, which area they are in, when their membership is due for renewal etc. So the type of queries we would need would be which memberships are due to be renewed, addresses for mailing lists, how many trainees we have at any one time and such like.

What do you think the concerns would be with the proposed solution - security?
 
A

a okadmin

New Member
I should also mention that at present there are over 1500 records in the database. Also, at present we do not need it to integrate with the website i.e. online registration.
 

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