Why Do I Need a Database?

In this Access 2007 lesson you will learn what an Access database does and how to decide whether you need one to manage your information.

Why do I need a database?

What is a database?

A database allows you to store information related to a specific topic in an organized way. In addition to storing data, you can sort, extract, and summarize information related to the data. One of the software programs that allows you to do this is Microsoft Office Access 2007, which is a database creation and management program.

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Why not use Excel?

There are many types of data you may need to store and manage—text and numbers, for example. Depending on what you want your data to do for you, you may or may not need to use a database. You might be able to use a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. How do you know which data can be adequately managed with Excel and which data requires Access to manage it more efficiently? It depends on how much data you have to manage and what you want your data to do for you. Let's try to answer this by looking at a bookstore scenario.

If you work for a bookstore business, you might have to keep track of your customers and their orders. You could use Microsoft Excel to store and manage this type of data; however, Excel is a spreadsheet software program that is traditionally used to manage numerical information, like totaling up all purchases by one customer. While it can do an adequate job of storing some types of text-based data—like a customer's name and contact information—it's not really what Excel was designed to do.

The examples on the following pages will show you why an Access database may be a better choice for the bookstore business.