MS Access 2010 multiple online users

I have developed a simple accounting program with MS Access which now works with MS Office 2010 version. Right now I am availing of MS Sharepoint which caters to my needs. But the issue is that my current server provider is not reliable and the alternatives are few or expensive.

I was thinking of utilizing the same platform to allow multiple users to work online live contemporary on the same table source linked to the program which is installed and opened in their PC. Thought of a cloud service such as the one offered by google or dropbox. Would these allow a similar service provided by MS Sharepoint? Is there any alternative option to host the source table online and have multiple users to access the same file live? Maybe converting it into an MySQL file and host it in my current hosting package would solve the issue (while complicating my life due to having to create users etc?)

Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Nicola SiottoDirectorAsked:
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Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
<<Would these allow a similar service provided by MS Sharepoint?>>

  No.  First thing is what type of database did you develop, a regular desktop database or a web database?

 The two are distinctly different.   The latter only work on-line through Sharepoint for A2007 and A2010, so I'm going to assume for the moment that you did a desktop database.

 That being the case, you cannot run the DB over any type of file sharing on the web like dropbox.  The database engine in Access was designed to run over a local area network (LAN), and not over a wide area network (WAN).   You can get away with it on some WAN's, but it needs to be  a very high end WAN.   A connection over the internet does not fall into that category.

  Right now, you have two fundamental options:

1. Run it on a terminal services server - you host it on a TS server and your users remote into that.  The app runs locally and only KVM (Keyboard, Video, and Mouse) runs over the connection.

2. Along the same lines, but not quite the same, is the service www.eqldata.com.   They make your DB available on-line through a web browser.

<<Is there any alternative option to host the source table online and have multiple users to access the same file live? Maybe converting it into an MySQL file and host it in my current hosting package would solve the issue (while complicating my life due to having to create users etc?)>>

  This is another option if you want to change the app.   You can use a database engine other then the default (which is ACE) to hold the data.  The app is split (which is something you should do anyway even the way it is now) into a Front end, which has everything but data, and a Back end, which is only the data and the only thing that is shared.   Each user would get their own copy of the front end.

 If you change to MySQL or SQL server for the BE, you can run over the internet, but it's not as simple as that.  In general, the app needs a full re-write.   Most operations need to be pushed server side by using pass-through queries, views, stored procedures, and triggers.   Also the approach in the app needs to be different.  For example, you would never simply bind a form to a table in an app.   Instead, you would let a user locate a record through a search of some type, then fetch one record at a time as needed.   It's a different approach to development of an app.

Unless you start that way, performance will never be great.  But if the number of users is small and they all have broadband connections, you can get away sometimes doing some simpler things.   It won't run well at all the way it stands currently.

Jim.
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Nicola SiottoDirectorAuthor Commented:
Dear Jim, thanks for your input. Honestly SharePoint works fine for my needs. The only problem I have is that the current service provider from time to time disappears and my data are trapped. Of course I do back up from time to time but I can't have a daily backup to overrule this disservice. I have searched for alternative sharepoint hosting providers but these are expensive for the minimal use we have (it's really minimal, three users, maybe once every couple of days). This is the reason behind my will to find alternative solutions and found out that cloud it's a remote storage rather than a real live platform that consents multiple users working simultaneously.

I will now evaluate eqldata.com as suggested by you and it's costs. Meanwhile I will also wait for some further inputs and consideration by other users. Hope this will happen in the next 48 hours and based on this I will positively close this question.

Thank you and kind regards.
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Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
<<The only problem I have is that the current service provider from time to time disappears and my data are trapped. >>

 If that's your only issue, consider using Microsoft Office 365:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/business

 Microsoft won't be dis-appearing anytime soon...

Jim.
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Jim Dettman (Microsoft MVP/ EE MVE)President / OwnerCommented:
Here's a link for detailed service descriptions by the way:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj819284.aspx

Jim.
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Nicola SiottoDirectorAuthor Commented:
It's something we're evaluating but the issue is that we'd need to update everyone's office versions which is another cost, while now we are running MS Office of various versions.
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Boyd (HiTechCoach) Trimmell, Microsoft Access MVPDesigner and DeveloperCommented:
I totally agree with  Jim's comments.

It is possible to have multiple users working simultaneously in the cloud. Did you know this site is a cloud application with multiple users working simultaneously?

Unfortunately the JET and ACE (.mdb and .accdb format) database engines are not true client server database. They do not have the ability to have  remote connections through the internet. By switching your back end to an SQL Server then you can do what you want. As previously pointed out, there will probably be some things that wioll need to be redesigned for client/server.

There are hosting services that will host an SQL Server database (MS SQ;, mySQL, Oracle, etc)  for you or you can do it yourself.  You can use Access, VB6, .Net, etc to create a front end that connects to the remote SQL Server. to allow multiple users to work simultaneously

I have VB6, VB.net and Access applications that connect to a remote SQL Server (mSSQl and mySQL) . This allows multiple users working simultaneously from many locations.


If your app is a really simple app then you may consider converting it to be browser based with a tool like Iron Speed ( http://www.ironspeed.com ) and host it with  a service like Discount ASP ( http://www.discountasp.net/).
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Nicola SiottoDirectorAuthor Commented:
Dear TheHiTechCoach, thanks for your explanation. The fact is that we need a local interface, not web, as it prints formatted docs such as physical cheques, which web apps can't.

JDettman has understood my needs and his solutions are probably my best options I need to work on.
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Boyd (HiTechCoach) Trimmell, Microsoft Access MVPDesigner and DeveloperCommented:
Dear TheHiTechCoach, thanks for your explanation. The fact is that we need a local interface, not web, as it prints formatted docs such as physical cheques, which web apps can't.
That is not actually true. Web apps can absolutely print checks.

Quickbooks online does it and my own commercial Access and  web based accounting system does it.

FYI: I have been designing, developing,  and selling  VB/Access/SQL Server based accounting systems for 15+ years . My system also includes a browser based front end that can print the checks to blank check stock  including the MIRC encoded routing/accounting information.  I have 100's of remote users.

Note: Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services can be used by web apps and it is more power than Access reports.

If you have not looked into it, I would highly recommend checking out Quickbooks online. It does everything you will need and will be a lot more reliable.  You could be up in a few days not a few months or longer trying to learning to it yourself.

Otherwise, I would recommend hosting it yourself on your own Terminal server.  I have over 500 remote users running Access applications this way. My office works almost 100% of the time in a RDS/RDP session. All the local users in the office work like remote users off the Terminal Server.
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Nicola SiottoDirectorAuthor Commented:
TheHiTechCoach, thanks for your info. Your input will become subject of discussion.
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Boyd (HiTechCoach) Trimmell, Microsoft Access MVPDesigner and DeveloperCommented:
You're welcome. Good luck with your project.
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