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access on network link to access on web server

Posted on 2011-09-16
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This is way out of the realm of what I normally do and I tried searching but could not find any answers.  I have 2 access databases that I have inherited.  One is the tables.  The other is a bunch of forms, queries and reports and the later was linked to the former on a network share.  If one has to be moved to a windows 2008 web server and the other is left on a network share would the one on the network share be able to link to the one on the web server.  Is this possible yes or no.  If so how so?  Thanks.
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Question by:thamilto0410
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by:DatabaseMX (Joe Anderson - Access MVP)
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Is there something special about the 'web server' ?
Can you 'see' it on the network?  If you can see it, then you should be able to link to it ...

mx
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To clarify a bit on what mx posted: You must be able to browse to the new Backend location (the database where you Tables are located) by using a standard Windows Explorer window. If you can do that, then you can link to the database at that location.

However, even if you can do this, you almost certainly should not do this. Working with Access-based data over a WAN - and especially when the endpoint of that WAN is a web server - generally leads to corruption and data loss, and performance is almost always far less than acceptable.

If your goal is to make your data available to different groups of users in different places, then you have several options:

-- Move the data to SQL Server, or some other server-based database that allows remote users. Many web hosts provide MSSQL or MySQL databases which can be used remotely. You then change your table links to the tables on the server, fix any issues you'll find (and there will be some), and you should be ready to do. There will still be some latency, perhaps, but in most cases performance if good.

-- Use remoting technology, like Terminal Services. This allows you to host the database locally, and have remote users log into a Remote Desktop to work with your app

-- Move the app to a full web-based application. This would entail a ground-up rewrite, of course.
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by:thamilto0410
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LMSConsulting --  Thank you for your response.    I am using what you have outlined above so far to outline to my client that maybe we are going down the wrong path.  Let me explain a little further and hopefully you can further educate me on possibiliites.  This was at one time for the end-user a working reservation application (stored on a network share) complete with an admin module allowing maintenance to some of the tables by 2 admins.

It stopped working.  Two options were discussed rebuild the entire system as you stated above from the ground up or for now just build the reservations piece for the intranet web leaving the admin piece alone.  I thought the complete rebuild the best option.  Sor the sake of time and rapid delivery though It was decided to go with reservation piece only.  This will be .net with one of the access dbs being the backend on a 2008 web server.  The other access db that handles the admin functions will be left on a network share as several admin users will need access to it and I am fairly certain they will not be given access to the web server.  Now if the database on the network share needed to link to the database on the web server to query and maybe even obtain updates would that be possible?  Or no?    
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Scott McDaniel (Microsoft Access MVP - EE MVE ) earned 250 total points
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The same concepts apply: The network share must be able to "see" the web server, as Databasemx pointed out earlier.

In other words, if you were to go to the physical machine that hosts that network share, you would have to be able to log onto that machine and navigate to the web server machine using ONLY Windows Explorer commands (i.e. no FTP, no browser, etc etc - just Windows Explorer). If you cannot do that, then that location cannot "see" the web server location, and your two databases could not work together.

The reason for this: Access is a file-server type of database, and doesn't support remote connections. It's little more than a structured text file with indexing and such, and doesn't provide features like the bigger server databases do.

You could perhaps provide a VPN connection to the web-server, and use that to allow the two to connect. This can cause as many problems as it resolves, however (i.e. what happens if the VPN crashes, how will the share machine log in, etc etc) and generally causes very poor performance in your application (although not so much if you're moving to a .NET frontend).

All in all, if you must store the data in a remote location, then your best chance for success is to move away from Access to a more robust database platform. SQL Server Express is free, and is quite easy to work with, and the upgrade path from Access to SQL Server is easy and quick.


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by:thamilto0410
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Thank you so much.  I needed some assistance in arguing why this project should move away from Access and into a web format with a more robust database and you helped me to get my thoughts in an outline.
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