Monday, August 30, 2010

Access vs. Excel

Here's a question I get asked a lot. When do I use Excel and when do I use Access. Thanks to the Crabby Office Lady, here is your answer.

When you want toUse this programWhy you should take Crabby's advice
... deal with a very large amount of data. (If you're a Kennedy, that's thousands of entries).AccessAccess is a handy-dandy organizer, accessing Cape Cod houses full of information in a quick and easy way. A few clicks of the mouse and you can make sense of all those toothy entries.
... manage a fairly small amount of data.ExcelIf you can simplify your life, by all means do it. Because once the big day hits, simplification will go right out the window. Don't use a database when an organized list will do nicely.
... spend less time plugging in the same information again and again, and more time playing around with it.AccessIf you want to make sure all your relations' variables are accounted for, create a relational database. One table can contain their names, and the other tables can contain seating, dietary, and lodging requirements. Each guest probably has more than one requirement, so you need a database that can cross-reference all of them.
... create a very simple list with limited amounts of cross-referencing.ExcelWhy get all tangled up in relationships if you don't have to? (Spoken like a true familial misanthrope.) You have a list of guests in one column, the corresponding "Yes, he's coming" or "No, she's banished" in the next column. Easy as pumpkin pie.
... rely on multiple external databases and run complex queries.AccessIf you need to compare the last decade's worth of information about seating arrangements, dietary preferences, and who ran for Congress in which state, don't even try this in Excel.

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