Access 2013 desktop - mdb - Old Version -

Posted on 2014-08-13
Last Modified: 2014-08-13
I have a customer who is going to install Access 2013 desktop who has a number of apps some of which go back to Access 97.  So 3 questions.

Can I use/open mdb format (queries / forms / reports / code) with Access 2013 desktop?
I've read a number of places that you can link tables to the mdb format, but you can't open or convert a mdb with Access 2013.

Can I keep old version of Access with Access 2013 desktop?
I'm a programmer and have Access 2003 and Access 2010 (among other versions) installed on my machine.  Will Access 2013 leave the old version so they still work.  In the past an install asked if you wanted to keep the old versions.

Does Access 365 come when you buy  Access 2013 desktop?

Thanks in advance.
Question by:LJG
    LVL 84
    1. You cannot directly convert a 97 database to 2013. I believe you must first convert it with (at least) 2003, then move up from there. You could link to the database, however, from a 2013 front end.

    2. Access will overwrite earlier versions unless you take care to not do so. The installation of 2013 should come to a point where it informs you that earlier versions are on the machine, and you can then choose to overwrite those earlier versions. You'd choose No at the prompt, and enter a path where you want to install the new versions. Note too that many people advise that you NOT install 2007+ on a machine with 2003 or earlier. I have personally experienced data loss when doing so. If you must keep an older version around, the best way to manage multiple versions of Access is through virtual machines, or something of that nature.

    3. No.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Thanks Scott

    Questions #2 & #3 are answered - but #1 I should have been more specific.

    1) If I have many mdb front-ends (queries / forms / reports / code) that were created with Access 2003.  Now used every day with Access 2010.
        a) Can it be opened and used using Access 2013?  (only version of Access on their machine 2013)
        b) Can it be converted to a accdb using Access 2013?

    LVL 84
    You cannot open your 97-era .mdb file in Access 2013 and use the Forms, Reports, etc. You must convert it first.

    See here:

    That article also has step-by-step instructions to convert it. As i mentioned earlier, you have to have 2003 or earlier, and then convert it to that platform first, then continue the conversion to 2013.

    If you've converted them up to 2003, then 2013 will convert them over to 2013 - but your comments are not clear as to exactly what format these .mdb files are currently in ..
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    LVL 84
    The link is wrong (or vague, at least).

    You can open mdb files that are in the 2000-2003 format, and you can convert them up ( just did it in my Access 2013 with a 2000-formatted database to prove this out).

    You CANNOT do it with a 97-formatted mdb. You must use 2003 to move it up to that format, then use 2013 to move it up to the 2013 format.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Scott - Thanks - the points are yours.

    So my understanding from what you say -

    If the the below is true - you can open the db in Access 2013 and use it in the same way as if the user has Access 2010 installed.
         1) the format is mdb
         2) the mdb file was created in Access 2000 or newer version
    LVL 33

    Expert Comment

    I think it was Jet 3.6 that was actually deprecated and A97 was the last version that used that version of Jet.  A2000 - A2003 all use Jet 4.0 and A2007 is the first ACE version.

    Just FYI - the version of Office 2013 that you download via your O365 subscription is IDENTICAL to the boxed version you buy from a retail outlet (assuming the same "level").  Not all boxed versions contain all Office apps but I'm not sure whether there is any distinction among the O365 versions.   For example, there are student versions of Office that contain only Word and Excel and possibly Outlook.  The difference is what else comes "packaged".  The retail, boxed, versions of Office are what you have always used.  Depending on price you get additional apps and usually you have to get to some "pro" version to get Access.  You get what you have always gotten 2 installs and a perpetual license.  So, as long as you have the original media, you can install on new computers.  At some point you'll run afoul of the license count issue since each install phones home.  Once you convince the person at the other end of the line that you aren't violating the license agreement, they will give you a key that lets you proceed.  For O365 (varies with level) you get Office 2013 and 5 licensed installs for "family".  This is very convenient for a household with up to 5 computers/laptops/tablets since you can keep them all updated.  In addition, you get a cloud account with storage and some free Skype time.  Some levels include SharePoint sites also (only these levels can create Access Web apps).  However, this license is annual.  What I have described goes (depending on promotions) for about $100 per year.  When the year is up, if you don't renew your subscription, your O2013 install becomes a doorstop.

    Although the SharePoint site comes with some O365 levels in the subscription model, if you have your own SharePoint installation (whatever the latest version is), you can use your boxed A2013 to create web apps also.
    LVL 84

    Accepted Solution


    However be advised that we've seen quite a few reports of .mdb files that were rendered unusable by earlier versions, once they were opened in 2013. If you are going to leave the files as-is, and NOT convert them to .accdb, then be sure to make regular backups - and don't say we didn't warn you :)
    LVL 2

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks for the info - but I promised the point to Scott who did much work.

    Thanks for all the back and forth - I have the answers now to let my customer know.


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