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  1. #1
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    Unanswered: Remote Access to Microsoft Access

    Hi,
    I have been trawling around looking for a solution to my computer requirement, looking at www.logmein.com and Aledensoft's Remote Office Manager, but I am not sure they will do the job for me.

    Here are my requirements:
    I have a microsoft Access database running (preferably on my PC but could be anywhere such as a web space provider's network).
    I want 3 other people to be able to access the database remotely, not on the same network. (i.e they both live 40 miles away from me). They must be able to access it simultaneously.
    I want them to be able to make changes to the database and to be able to print off reports from the database on their own printer.

    Can anyone suggest a solution for these requirements please ?

    Thanks,

    graeme706

  2. #2
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    the question comes up so frequently - I've put together this set of information and copy/paste it in:

    Access is not designed to have the BE and FE separated geographically across the generic internet. The time delay will cause the application to hang – and in some versions one is not able to set up a table link using http syntax.

    Generic advice on remote Access database options where one has only generic internet and not a high speed private WAN with Terminal Services capabilities…

    Option 1 – stay with Access’ embedded replication feature (if .mdb format – not available with .accdb 2007 format) presuming you can co-locate or vpn them together.

    Option B is to go with web architecture. find a web developer - turn over to him/her your Access db for them to look at as the prototype design...and get their quote. You will pay to have them develop it and then there will be the recurring for the hosting company...

    Option III is the AccessTables.com - Home service; this allows everyone to operate a copy of the Access db locally and then you send in the tables - they consolidate/replicate all the data - - and return to everyone a consolidated set of tables. Is great as long as the requirement is not for instantaneous shared data. If periodic updates is sufficient and the user base are all part of a team - this can be a good solution.

    Option 3.5 is an online commercial db service - I would recommend DabbleDB.com Intuit also has a product : QuickBase - but it is quite pricey and intended for corporate users. Dabble is very reasonably priced and pretty cool. When using a db service you are in their sandbox and must live with the features and look they offer; the redesign using Dabble is a bit of work & learning and there is definitely missing many features one takes for granted in Access.

    Option 5 is to have users get into Access using a commercial VPN service such as www.GoToMyPC.com. This will also have a monthly fee. The PC must always be on for the user. A bit of a latency/lag experience. Only one user can log on at a time...and, importantly, the log on user will have the ability to see everything on the PC - not just the Access application....

    Option VI assuming you have Access07 or later in .accdb format you can get a sharepoint hub and use the publish/off-network function as a mode to work locally but push the data back & forth to a sharepoint hub. But sharepoint itself is another big element to manage and you might look to a shared sharepoint service from Microsoft or others.

    No right or wrong per se – just right or wrong for one’s situation…finding the right tool for the job…or redefining the job for the available tool…..

  3. #3
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    if I was picking one of NTC options I pick option 1B.
    hope this help

    See clear as mud


    StePhan McKillen
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  4. #4
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    Thanks very much for the replies, although some of the terminology goes right over my head.

    I will firstly put together the access database for how I want it to work then perhaps try option 5 to see how it works.

    Thanks again,

    graeme706

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NTC View Post
    Option 1 – stay with Access’ embedded replication feature (if .mdb format – not available with .accdb 2007 format) presuming you can co-locate or vpn them together.
    I personally would never every recommend MSAccess Replication. If a user has a dialup connection (or any unstable connection) and you try to synchranize code (or data), you have nothing but problems and corrupt data (plus users can wait up to 20 minutes just to syncrhanize data + double that time synchranizing code). Not to mention the ungodly record identifiers (such as -32343242233) that MSAccess assigns to the autonumber so the odds of record conflicts is less (even though relationships always get messed up should a user lose connection while synchranizing). Checking relational integrity between tables on numbers in this range is simply not fun.

    Not to mention if your "Master" database somehow get's corrupted (which is easily done), you then have to start from restoring a non-replicated copy of the mdb and then re-do the Replication schema (which is confusing in itself knowing what Replication type to use.) I had so many issues with MSAccess Replication that it took up to 90% of my time just fixing issue after issue.

    I've used Citrix for many, many years without any problems. Although pricey per license, it's well worth the cost. User's connect into the network via citrix (which can also be done via web) and then open the mdb/mde on the network drive.

    I also like VPN, especially connecting to my work computer (via vpn and then remote desktop). We've been experimenting with VPN and all the results have been positive. Using SQL Server as the backend and putting the frontend mde's on the user's desktop, users bypass any need to connect to the network and have a fast connection to the data source. For extremely slow user connections, I'd recommend using the unbound forms design in your application. VPN is not that expensive but it does require a good network admin to help set it up correctly.

    I did this setup for the 5+ million energy star records we updated externally and even slow dialups were able to utilize the database with very short delays. (I did use unbound forms and simply linked the SQL Server tables in the mdb application.) Even the slowest dialup user connections could retrieve 1 of the 5 million records and update it within seconds without any problems.
    Last edited by pkstormy; 03-21-10 at 01:15.
    Expert Database Programming
    MSAccess since 1.0, SQL Server since 6.5, Visual Basic (5.0, 6.0)

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by NTC View Post
    Option B is to go with web architecture. find a web developer - turn over to him/her your Access db for them to look at as the prototype design...and get their quote. You will pay to have them develop it and then there will be the recurring for the hosting company...
    A web application will be extremely limited when compared to the functionality that MSAccess provides with forms,reports/modules, controls, etc...) Someone will most like need to write php scripts for a lot of web applications to communicate with the source data or the data ends up hosted on the developers site. I personally like to keep confidential type data in-house.
    Last edited by pkstormy; 03-21-10 at 01:01.
    Expert Database Programming
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by NTC View Post
    Option 3.5 is an online commercial db service - I would recommend DabbleDB.com Intuit also has a product : QuickBase - but it is quite pricey and intended for corporate users. Dabble is very reasonably priced and pretty cool. When using a db service you are in their sandbox and must live with the features and look they offer; the redesign using Dabble is a bit of work & learning and there is definitely missing many features one takes for granted in Access.

    As with out-sourcing or going with any outside commercial service, program changes during development process (as any project usually entails), can be problematic and sometimes not even an option with the company. As with any outside, be careful. I've worked with Intuit's database structure set before and was not impressed.
    Expert Database Programming
    MSAccess since 1.0, SQL Server since 6.5, Visual Basic (5.0, 6.0)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkstormy View Post
    A web application will be extremely limited when compared to the functionality that MSAccess provides with forms,reports/modules, controls, etc...) Someone will most like need to write php scripts for a lot of web applications to communicate with the source data or the data ends up hosted on the developers site. I personally like to keep confidential type data in-house.
    Enter SSRS...

    I've never, ever worked a project where I kept a customers data assets on my own servers. Is this a common experience for you? I'm also surprised to hear you speak to limited functionality for web applications. What do you think Access can do that a PHP or ASP.NET application can't? I can think of several things web apps can do that Access can't (without significant tomfoolery), but I'm hard-pressed to go the other way...
    oh yeah... documentation... I have heard of that.

    *** What Do You Want In The MS Access Forum? ***

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by pkstormy View Post
    A web application will be extremely limited when compared to the functionality that MSAccess provides with forms,reports/modules, controls, etc...) Someone will most like need to write php scripts for a lot of web applications to communicate with the source data or the data ends up hosted on the developers site. I personally like to keep confidential type data in-house.
    Enter SSRS...

    I've never, ever worked a project where I kept a customers data assets on my own servers. Is this a common experience for you? I'm also surprised to hear you speak to limited functionality for web applications. What do you think Access can do that a PHP or ASP.NET application can't? I can think of several things web apps can do that Access can't (without significant tomfoolery), but I'm hard-pressed to go the other way...
    oh yeah... documentation... I have heard of that.

    *** What Do You Want In The MS Access Forum? ***

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teddy View Post
    Enter SSRS...

    I've never, ever worked a project where I kept a customers data assets on my own servers. Is this a common experience for you? I'm also surprised to hear you speak to limited functionality for web applications. What do you think Access can do that a PHP or ASP.NET application can't? I can think of several things web apps can do that Access can't (without significant tomfoolery), but I'm hard-pressed to go the other way...
    Teddy - I always keep my data in-house (ie. at the hospital I work for). Especially since most of our data is highly confidential and must meet HIPPA compliance. I would never recommend outsourcing data to another server unless it's simple survey type data (which we outsource to a web program called Qualtrics.) I tend to worry when outsourcing data on another web server as to what the data will look like when we download it. Qualtrics seems to do a very nice job of exporting survey data in a nice format but I've been hesitant to ever keep any actual customer type data on another server.

    I can't say I'm very versitile on ASP.NET but from everything I've read on the posts in this forum, they seem to be problematic. Eventually I'd like to get involved with it but I think time-wise, vb.net might be a better investment.

    Regarding web functionality - I'm talking about the way you can design (in MSAccess) certain form 'looks' with a bit more functionality on the controls you can utilize within that form (manipulating subforms and recordsets as needed) versus the controls you can design on a web application and working with subforms. That along with the flexibility of easily writing many vba functions to do things fairly easily such as in query expressions or returning data to forms which I've seen difficult to do on a web application. From what I've seen from web designs (and maybe you're the exception), is that there is less functionality how web forms are manipulated (or look) for different ways data can be returned/updated compared to MSAccess forms and the time invested to match the same functionality in MSAccess is usually significantly more time for the web design (again, I'm just going by what I've experienced from seeing different web applications and what they could/could not do). I've also found the report designer in MSAccess far exceeding any other program (or web designed reporting application.)
    Last edited by pkstormy; 03-22-10 at 00:27.
    Expert Database Programming
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  11. #11
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    I think I may be spoiled with .NET...

    Data binding in particular is a cinch. Depending on how one goes about it, there may be zero lines of code necessary. Parameterizing queries is oddly similar to how access does things. Manipulating UI objects in an arbitrary manner strikes me as being a strength in web based platforms whereas one can control the actual markup that is responsible for rendering a control. Couple this with a robust DOM and a bunch of convenience tools and you have yourself a pretty flexible platform.

    Heck, you can even get full featured web based DICOM/PACS viewers now days. That's where we're at in the web world. There are few if any barriers to reproducing a "desktop" application UI in a web based medium.

    Quick and dirty reporting has always been the shining star of Access. Whatever ill folks may speak of it, you can't beat the report designer for balancing ease of use with features and power. SSRS is coming along though. It feels a whole lot like Access-lite based on my initial forays.


    Anywho, I didn't mean to derail the thread. It just struck me as unusual to see Access placed above web applications on the grounds of flexibility or functionality. Those are usually two of the more important metrics I use (right after scalability) when determining whether a project has outgrown what Access can do on its own.
    oh yeah... documentation... I have heard of that.

    *** What Do You Want In The MS Access Forum? ***

  12. #12
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    .NET is the one thing I want to dive into.
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  13. #13
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    I've yet to see anything 'outgrow' MSAccess capabilities. Even though sometimes little 'tricks' and unbound forms need to be utilized for large recordsets (I always use SQL Server though for tables). Other than that, I've always 'found a way' in MSAccess to do 'anything' I needed to do. I have seen difficulties though accomplishing the same thing by some web developers, especially when recordsets need to be bound to the form (with subforms) to accompish the task (according to them).
    Last edited by pkstormy; 03-22-10 at 00:40.
    Expert Database Programming
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  14. #14
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    Geographic disparity is one of those things that makes Access use tricky... That and scaling to hundreds or thousands of concurrent users.

    I think you'll find ASP.NET pretty interesting. When I first got started with it (coming out of a VB and Access background), I remember thinking "this is sweet, it's like web development for application programmers". Made a WHOLE lot more sense to me than classic ASP or PHP at the time. I believe there may have actually been an audible "click" while blowing through that first "for dummies" book...

    The barrier to entry is startlingly low too. Of course it's all an elaborate bait and switch routine designed to lull one in to a false sense of security before throwing them in to the deep end, but it's fun while it lasts.
    oh yeah... documentation... I have heard of that.

    *** What Do You Want In The MS Access Forum? ***

  15. #15
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    I have worked on several MSAccess systems remotely and can suggest a solution, but it may be a bit expensive. If you can afford to have a number of PCs adjacent to the server, people can connect to them remotely using the rdp program. This allows them physically to take charge of an on-site PC and it works exactly as though they were present on site.
    With regards to printing reports remotely, we organised it through a VPN network and an ftp web connection. Each user had a private reports directory which was pointed to by their ftp connection. Reports were not printed but redirected to the appropriate directory for download. You could even use a product such as CutePDFWriter (which looks like a printer) which converts the report to PDF format thus bypassing awkward security features which mistrust Word and text documents.

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