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Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access is a database management system. It is an exceptional tool for storing, editing, and searching through various kinds of data. Excel is also used for many similar projects, but lacks certain abilities. I will briefly discuss some situations where it is advantageous to use Access instead of Excel.

Access stores data in a table. Each column of data corresponds to a specific attribute and each row corresponds to a new entry. For a contact database, the attributes would be name, number, address and each row would be a different person. The strength of Access is that if each person has a large amount of data associated with it, such as a call history or purchase history that varies from person to person, then another table is required to store this data. Access stores this data in a separate, but related table. All of the data in all of the tables can be sorted easily and efficiently. Also, Access can be linked to external databases which can then manipulate the data in different ways.

Excel is a spreadsheet software program, and it stores units of information in rows and columns of cells, called worksheets. Excel can easily store lists of data, such as contact lists, but just in one table. This data can be sorted by column or row, but Excel cannot relate different tables. Excel is a numerical program and is meant to mathematically manipulate data. Therefore, Excel is best primarily for calculations and statistical comparisons on data.

I have used Access both for myself and on previous jobs. I have created several databases for contact management systems for storing information about various people I have met through networking, previous jobs, and interviews. This has helped me keep track of my professional relationships easily because of Access's ability to easily sort by type of relationship, company, date, etc. I have also used Access at a previous job for maintaining an image database. This database allowed easy access to thousands of different images, all searchable by type, size, location, etc.