What Are Some Advantages & Disadvantages of MS Excel & Access?

Written by bonnie conrad
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What Are Some Advantages & Disadvantages of MS Excel & Access?
You can bring Access data into Excel with the click of a mouse. (Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Access and Excel are both part of the Microsoft Office suite of products, and both are widely used in the business world. Access is a powerful yet relatively easy to use database program, while Excel is a fully featured spreadsheet program. Both of these products have a number of advantages, as well as some drawbacks potential users need to be aware of.

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Flexibility

Since Access and Excel are both part of the Microsoft Office suite of products, it is easy to exchange data between the various programs in that suite. You can, for instance, create a table of names and addresses in Access and use that table to create mail merge letters and labels in Microsoft Word. You can also exchange data easily with other Microsoft products, and with products from other vendors as well.

Ease of Use

One of the selling points of products like Microsoft Access and Microsoft Excel is how easy they are to learn and use. There is a bit of a learning curve to Excel and Access, especially for inexperienced users, but these products are much easier to learn than more complicated software by SAP, Oracle and other vendors. In addition, database administrators can set up very complicated spreadsheets and databases, then give users the limited access they need to run queries and reports, all while protecting the integrity of the underlying data.

Cost

The basic version of Microsoft Office 2010 starts at around £65, a not insignificant sum for many computer owners. With entry-level desktop and laptop computers selling for less than £260 or £325, that additional software cost can add considerably to the price of the computers you buy. While businesses often need a standard product like Microsoft Office, which includes both Microsoft Access and Excel, home users may prefer to use Open Office or a similar free product instead.

Scalability

While Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access are capable of producing large spreadsheets and databases, they are not always the ideal tools for very large projects. Companies that need to design enterprise-wide spreadsheets and databases may be better off with a more scalable product like Microsoft SQL Server or a database solution from Oracle. Some companies choose to build their initial spreadsheets and databases on the Microsoft Office platform, then port those documents to SQL once they exceed a certain size or level of complexity.

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