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I have a desktop database I created in Access. I'd like to share the database with a single collaborator, who can have full privileges to the database (table access). However, my collaborator is much less tech-savvy so to make it easier for him, I have set up forms to make table updates, so table access is not a must for him. With that in mind, I am willing to split up the database if this would be a better option.

I had considered sharing the database with him over a Sharepoint website, but have little experience with this and would not know where to begin. I also do not think it would be worth the (relatively low) monthly price to share with a single person. I do not expect our team to grow either, so there is no need to prepare for this. I think the best option is to share the database on Dropbox so that we both have the same version to work with. I've read some forums posts on doing those and all seem to discourage sharing Access databases like this. However, I've had a hard trouble understanding, as I am a novice. There is no need for us to both be able to work on the database at the same time, but I have no idea how I can restrict access to a single user at a time. Can you please explain what the problems are with sharing an Access database in simple terms and what workarounds there is, if any?

Please don't suggest other options as I am trying to keep this project as simple as possible and my experience with SQL is minimal. Plus, I need to keep this simple for my collaborator as well and this is a sort of personal project I don't have a ton of time and resources for.

Thank you for the help!

2 Answers 2

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To put it simply - it would work if only one of you were editing the database at a time. If both of you were to edit the database, it could corrupt the file, discard each other changes or cause sync issues.

By the way, have you considered Google Docs?

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  • OK, I will see how we can make sure that only one of us edits at a time. Any suggestions? When you say Google Docs, do you mean storing the Access file on Google Drive or does Google Docs have some free database service I am unaware of?
    – Mickster37
    Commented Sep 12, 2014 at 18:26
  • When I mentioned Google Docs I was thinking about Fusion Tables - google.com/fusiontables
    – Lauris
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 14:10
  • It looks like Fusion Tables lacks the forms functionality that Access has. I would have to use the Fusion Tables API to create forms that displayed data from the tables and then could update the data in the tables. Correct?
    – Mickster37
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 2:58
  • I haven't used Fusion Tables with forms, but I think that you are right and it would require using Fusion Tables API. However Google Forms + Spreadsheets have been pretty decent combo. It all depends on what are you trying to achieve.
    – Lauris
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 13:27
  • I think I prefer sticking to Access. Any ideas on how I can restrict access to one user at a time if I put the database in Dropbox?
    – Mickster37
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 14:31
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I assume you meant having frontend interface and backend database sitting on DropBox. Because simply sharing an Access DB through DropBox and allowing the DB user to copy and run the DB on their own PC/laptop poses no issue.

For Access backend databases to work, it has to be a real-time synchronous drive. This means that any changes to any files on such drive happens to just one version of the file, and changes takes place immediately.

But, online storage is not real-time and synchronous. In layman explanation: If a user has a dropbox folder on his PC and the PC is disconnected to the Internet. The files in the dropbox folder still exists for the user to change and delete. Once the PC gets connected again. The changes in the local copy will be synchronized to the online copies.

But the same thing happens to a backend DB file, it means there will be data inconsistency from time to time and this means the database is ineffective.

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