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Software Decisions: Access vs. Excel

Updated on February 5, 2007

A main question I hear people asking when it comes to Microsoft (MS) Office software are which programs to use for certain tasks. For instance, Access or Excel, this can be a tricky issue and I have seen many people use the wrong program on many instances.

In some cases this is a matter of preference; by this I mean which program are you more proficient with using.

In other cases this is a matter of ignorance; a common lack of knowledge in regards of software applications, and this extends to even professional positions.

Check below to see how they compare...

Similarities:

  • Both programs allow you to register, maintain, manipulate, and then print data...they're relatively inexpensive and universal software, for both businesses and personal uses.

  • Both programs are great tools for managing data and performing calculations.

So the question remains, which program do I use?

Differences:

Excel -

Accurately this program is considered spreadsheet software, for novice users Excel is used to track basic info; such as employee schedules, names, phone numbers, and simple calculation inputs.

Yet for advanced Excel users, such as myself, Excel is an excellent tool for performing mass calculations and analyzing data on a large scale. By knowing how to create versatile formulas, utilizing Pivot Tables, and other features such as data validation and macros, Excel can accomplish nearly any task.

Examples of uses would be tracking employee 401K plans, figuring the weekly wages of your employees, and even personal uses like figuring a retirement plan...and all of this could be accomplished using a versatile worksheet, instead of creating a new one each time.

Access -

This program is considered a relational database, this means that data functions both independently and interdependently (using tables) to allow the database user to combine data from multiple sources and analyze and/or report information in almost limitless ways.

Access can store tons of data in different forms and yet still be intertwined for easy referencing and analyzing. Other types of relational databases are sites that reference keywords and display articles, etc. that contain the keywords (Google, Yahoo, and the biggest one - the internet), Access is just on a much smaller scale.

When they work best:

Excel functions best with calculations...Take it from any CPA or financial expert, spreadsheets were created to simplify and organize financial data. Using Access for calculations is like using a butcher's knife to butter your bread.

Access works best at storing vast amounts of info that have relational fields, this way you can easily reference the data and keep it maintained. For instance, if your storing peoples name, address, and phone number it might be best to just list it on Excel, or use your MS Word Mail Merge feature (which is ideal) but that's another story. However, if you plan to store additional information such as personal information, hobbies, job information, gift buying history, networking details, etc., which may apply to more than one contact, you will probably want to use Access.

A great thing to remember with software...Use the easiest and simplest program, as long as it accomplishes your goal!

Comments

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    • profile image

      fukt ard 5 years ago

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    • profile image

      ALI 7 years ago

      XCEL 2007 is over a million rows and Just 1 sheet tab has 17 BILLION CELLS

    • profile image

      xylah 7 years ago

      good explanation

    • profile image

      LT 8 years ago

      Good work on clearing the difference, its very useful and clear.

      what are some good sites that provide clear and easy tutorials for both access 2007 and excel 2007?

      If you can think of any can you please email the links at:;

      ram10_7@hotmail.com

      thanks again.

    • profile image

      lucky singh 8 years ago

      that was good...but better if give more details

    • profile image

      Graham Durham Gay 8 years ago

      Im torn between Dani and Azza :'(

    • profile image

      Robert 8 years ago

      Your Silly

    • profile image

      RUMOOOO! 8 years ago

      JJJOOOOODDDDDDDIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

    • profile image

      Matt Barker 8 years ago

      I AN A GREASY WEASEL AND I POOP MY PANTS AT SCHOOL AND IM 16!!!

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      and grandpas

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      and grandpas

    • profile image

      BEn ROLPH 8 years ago

      I like grannies

    • profile image

      BEn ROLPH 8 years ago

      I like grannies

    • profile image

      BEn ROLPH 8 years ago

      I like grannies

    • profile image

      Gary Chick 8 years ago

      This program is a piece of poo and take it off the internet and I love Kiam

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      KAKA is good

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      KAKA is good

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      KAKA is good

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      I like men

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      I like men

    • profile image

      Kiam Chick 8 years ago

      This was very good, these other peopleare retards.

    • profile image

      Ben Rolph 8 years ago

      I like birds they are just like me

    • profile image

      bird of prey 8 years ago

      kakakakakakkakkakakakkakaakakakakakak

    • profile image

      graham durham  8 years ago

      i broke azza's cod 5 and my cat sat on his xbox also you smell and this was utter crap you fat american, go to mcdonalds that's where you belong also michael guilbert cannot mark and header at the same time and chris oneill is a facking retard, also there is a beaver in my school and a man/woman who smells like the local chippy, cigarettes and 2 yr old spunk

    • profile image

      Robert 8 years ago

      Your silly

    • profile image

      yourmum 8 years ago

      this was excellent apart from the fact that everything you said was utter crap get a life you smell like poo and my gran could do better........!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Chris Oneil 8 years ago

      I scored a goal last night. Yeh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Chris Oneil 8 years ago

      This was a piece of rubbish, give up on life poooooooooo

    • profile image

      yourgran 8 years ago

      this sucked my dog could do better, you seroiusly need a life you smell like poo

    • profile image

      Rogue 8 years ago

      This is a load of innacurate rubbish you pretentious arrogant prat

    • profile image

      islam-boy 8 years ago

      keep up the good work

    • kabery profile image

      kabery 8 years ago from Ohio

      good overview - accurate.

    • profile image

      sss 8 years ago

      gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

    • profile image

      Skelly Golden Gun 8 years ago

      what did i tell u u made da boi fail

    • profile image

      MR.E 8 years ago

      This site was prooven absolutly usless, i coppied and pastede the info and failed my exam

    • profile image

      skelly golden gun 8 years ago

      its shit

    • profile image

      SSC 8 years ago

      wrong! devil

    • amerdad profile image

      amerdad 9 years ago from California

      You've done a really good job of clearing up the difference between the two, thanks.

    • profile image

      El_Che 9 years ago

      these are two other main considerations when deciding which one to use:

      1. Excel worksheets can only hold 65000 rows, obviously if you are trying to import data this might become an issue.  Excel is ideal for charts and graphs, but if you want to merge different tables then it becomes difficult to manage. 

      2. Access doesn't have a 65,000 row limitation but, its database file system can only hold about 2Gigs of data.  But can use the power of SQL, Reports, and Forms with Access more effectively.

      Bottom line, if you need graphs and charts and are handling small amounts of data then Excel is the way to go, but if you are trying to merge data from different tables and require up to 2 gigs of space then Access would work best.

    • profile image

      Jon Mileteche 10 years ago

      Thanks...it appears a lot of people in my office have been using these programs wrong.