(Watch this great video tutorial as an introduction to what Microsoft Access is all about.)

Microsoft Access is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS), designed primarily for home or small business use.

Access was traditionally been known as a desktop database system intended to be run from a single computer, as opposed to a server database application, where the application is installed on a server and accessed remotely from multiple client machines.

However, since 2010, Microsoft Access has included a web solution, as well as the desktop solution, and is integrated with SharePoint and, since 2013, SQL Server. We will focus on the desktop application.

There are four major steps to using Microsoft Access:

  1. Database Creation: Create your Microsoft Access database and specify what kind of data you will be storing. A retail business might create a database to store all their sales information, i.e. items sold, customer, employee, commission, etc.
  2. Data Input: After your database is created the data the store gathers every business day can be entered into the Access database.
  3. Query: This is a fancy term to basically describe the process of retrieving information from the database.
  4. Report (optional): Information from the database is organized in a nice presentation that can be printed in an Access Report.

Note: Access is part of Microsoft Office. However, it is not included in the basic suite with Word and Excel. You need to get Microsoft Office Professional Edition to have Access.