MS Access vs. MySQL - Which is the Right DBMS for the Job?

Let’s say you have a need for some small-scale relational database work. You do your homework and everything you see keeps bringing you back to the same choices; Microsoft Access or MySQL. While there are other choices out there, these two products seem to be the first or second people consider for a relational database platform. Now that you have narrowed it down, let’s look at how these long-lasting heavyweights stack up so you can pick one.

First, let’s take a look at cost. As with all Microsoft Office products, Access pricing is based on whether you buy it standalone or as part of the Office suite. In the most common configuration, Access comes as part of a ‘professional’ suite package. Those start at about $200. You may find it cheaper if you can use a Microsoft educational license but if not, you probably want to budget for that number. One of the benefits of Access is that it is ideal for someone to use to develop simple databases and publish them to a web host for end users to access. This is a common use of Access in corporate environments.

MySQL, which at one time was the most popular free-to-use open source database now charges for the privilege. The database has several variations (Standard, Enterprise and a Clustering edition) with the Standard edition costing $2000. Yes, that is an extra zero when compared to the price of MS-Access. There is a significant difference in price but there is also a significant difference in the capabilities of each product.

Access works with the Windows operating system. You can create databases that are accessible through various interfaces on other platforms but the database creation and management tools are strictly Windows. MySQL works with many more operating systems. Mac OS, Windows, Linux, and BSD are just a few of the operating systems that MySQL will allow you to work in. One benefit of being open-source is that developers can easily create variations based on operating system needs. As operating systems (particularly Linux flavors) come and go you can feel pretty certain that MySQL will satisfy the need to work on various platforms.

Access has a simple, easy to use graphical user interface. MySQL is easier out of the box as far as setting up a quick database but beyond that, the interface is not as intuitive as the one for Access. Access provides 'wizard' type features that you expect from Microsoft. This is a particularly important feature to the many network managers and support people who only develop and maintain databases occasionally. MySQL is easy to use as well but you should be proficient in SQL database structure and processes before tackling the program.

In the area of higher end functions, MySQL is dominant. Access does not allow for merge joins, MySQL does. Both allow for inner and outer joins. MySQL offers native network encryption as well as functions, procedures and triggers. Access does not offer any of these.

Not to diminish what is a powerful and wildly successful product but Access is geared towards client side database management while MySQL is a full featured RDBMS intended for scaleable server operation. Which one you want to use is largely dependent on your budget, your experience level and development needs.

About the Author
Victor is a regular contributor of Techie-world, who enjoys sharing tips on tech-related issues. He is currently involved in currently access to mysql converter development. With plenty of experience as a consultant he contributes regularly to several tech blogs and publications.

Related Posts
« Prev Post