Deploying Microsoft Access Databases Linked to a SQL Azure Database to Users without SQL Server Installed on their Machine

Written by: Luke Chung, President

Microsoft SQL Azure

In my previous paper, I described how to link a Microsoft Access database to a SQL Server database hosted on Microsoft SQL Azure.

By using Microsoft's cloud computing Azure platform, your can easily host an enterprise quality SQL Server database with high levels of availability, bandwidth, redundancy, backups, and support. SQL Azure databases range from 1 to 50 GB, and you pay for what you use starting at $5 per month.

Microsoft Access and Cloud ComputingIn that paper, I showed how you needed to have SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) for SQL Server on your machine to manage a SQL Azure database and create the data source network file (DSN file) to connect to the SQL Azure database. With this file, your Access database can link (or import) data from your SQL Azure database.

So how can you deploy your database to users who don't have SQL Server installed on their machines?

Deploying a Microsoft Access database using a SQL Azure database is similar to deploying any Access database using a SQL Server back end database. For our purposes, this can include Access Jet databases linked to SQL Azure tables directly (MDB or ACCDB formats) or your VBA code that references the SQL Server tables via ADO.

The users of your applications do not need to have SQL Server installed on their machines, just the ODBC driver. Once that's installed, they can use your database. If they need to link to the tables from their own database, they simply need to have the DSN File you created along with the password for the database.

The file you need to run on each machine is the SQL Server client installation program. You can download the SQL Server client installation program from the Microsoft site.
(Note: The latest ODBC Driver Versions are backward compatible.)

Microsoft SQL Server Native Client 11.0 is installed when you install SQL Server 2016 (13.x).

For more information on each Microsoft ODBC Driver version, visit Release Notes for Microsoft ODBC Drive for SQL Server on Windows.

The version to install should match the bitness of your operating system. NOT the bitness of your version of Access. So if you are running Windows 10, 64-bit with the 32-bit of Office/Access, choose the x64 (64-bit) version. Run the msi program and follow the instructions:

Microsoft ODBC Driver 18 Setup Program for SQL Azure and SQL Server 2019
Initial screen of the Microsoft ODBC Driver 18 Setup Program for SQL Azure and SQL Server 2019

For more details, read this MSDN article about Installing SQL Server Native Client. This article also includes silent installation instructions to install the ODBC driver without the user interface prompting your users.

You can download and distribute:

For security reasons, SQL Azure (like standard SQL Server) lets you specify the IP addresses for direct interaction with the database. This is required with SQL Azure under Firewall rules. From the Azure portal for your database, choose "Set server firewall", then add the IP addresses. For more information, visit this Microsoft web page on managing SQL Azure firewall rules.

Not sure what your IP address is? Use the site to get your current IP address.

Hope this helps you create Microsoft Access databases with SQL Server more easily. Good luck and I hope to learn what you're doing or would like to do with Access and Azure.

FMS Development Team BlogBlog about it here.


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