As a database management system (DBMS), Microsoft Access has long been almost irreplaceable. The system became widespread due to its intuitive design, extensive functionality and numerous integrations.
However, the database management systems market continued to evolve and some competitors managed to catch up with Microsoft Access. Therefore, there are excellent alternatives to this system available on most major platforms today. In fact, many come for free, although there are quite a few premium variants.
This article tells you about the best systems to use instead of Microsoft Access.
Microsoft Access Alternatives
Unsurprisingly, MySQL is first on the list. This database management system represents a very popular powerhouse. It is used by some of the leading social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as Google’s own YouTube.
Globally high-profile companies and organizations such as PayPal also use MySQL. The reason is that the DBMS can handle complex systems and websites with many pages and high traffic.
MySQL is designed for heavy professional use. This means that the system is not very easy to use – after all, it is not built for beginners, but for organizations with specialized technical departments. This database management system is also quite pricey, with the standard plan costing $2,000 per year.
Unlike the first item, QuickBase is a low-code DBMS. Low code means that the program does not require too much coding and instead relies on the visual user interface.
QuickBase is very user-friendly and quite flexible, allowing users to connect the data with custom applications. This makes the DBMS ideal for creative use, both when building and displaying database information. The latter is possible thanks to the publishing tools included in the system.
QuickBase is reasonably priced compared to some other DBMS options. The most affordable plan costs $600 per month, while more advanced options for larger organizations have flexible pricing.
Zoho Creator represents another encryption-free database management system. It is an excellent solution for streamlining data management and automating tasks.
Zoho Creator has a very intuitive drag and drop user interface, making most of its functionality extremely accessible to users. In addition, this DBMS has advanced scripting. All these benefits make for easy app creation. Best of all, everything built into this system is compatible with mobile platforms.
In addition to creating apps, Zoho Creator comes with more than 50 ready-to-use business tools. Finally, the DBMS has numerous integrations with additional apps and services. It’s also quite affordable, with plans starting at $10 per month per user.
HyperBase is based on cloud infrastructure and is aimed at larger organizations. The database management system is widely used in IT, retail, finance, legal and healthcare.
The cloud-based structure of this DBMS makes it quite flexible yet powerful. Data collection and sharing is made as simple as possible, making HyperBase accessible to both non-experts and experienced users.
Like the previous entry, HyperBase has a monthly per-user subscription model that is inexpensive, especially when compared to most of the other options. Pricing for HyperBase starts at $8.30 per month.
Like HyperBase, TeamDesk functions largely online. This DBMS isn’t just low-code – it’s zero-code. Users can access all functions of the system without technical knowledge and can customize their databases in detail.
TeamDesk also has handy templates that speed up the workflow and every database created in the DBMS is customizable and scalable. Your databases can track the growth of your business.
Plans for TeamDesk have very popular prices, with the basic plan costing just $49 per month.
Microsoft Access Alternatives for Mac
For Mac users, Microsoft Access may not be the primary option for a database management system. This is because Microsoft Access is part of MS Office. While the Office suite is available for Mac, it is not the default solution on Apple devices.
This means that Mac users often start with an alternative built for universal use or specific to macOS. We’ll list some of the best picks here.
Tap Forms represents a Mac-specific database management system. It is built around an easy learning curve that allows for seamless database and form creation.
Databases created with Tap Forms can be enhanced with additional audio files and images, and can also be linked to other databases. Best of all, everything can be done without coding. This makes Tap Forms very welcoming to novice users and quite easy to use.
Like most DBMS apps, Tap Forms has a monthly subscription, which starts from $50.
Apple’s own FileMaker Pro, a veteran of the DBMS scene, is today owned by Claris International, an Apple subsidiary.
The main benefits of using FileMaker Pro are that the powerful system allows users to create custom databases for a variety of purposes, and you can get help from a professional at an additional cost. However, there are some drawbacks to FileMaker Pro.
In particular, the system does not allow direct MS Access import – instead files must be imported in CSV or XML format. It is also complicated to use. These features make the $20 per month price a little harder to justify.
Ninox Database has all the database building mechanisms of MS Access, but makes using them much less complex.
This software solution is quite powerful. It is a DBMS at its core, but can be easily used as a CRM or for project management purposes. Creating and modifying databases in Ninox Database is very easy, especially if users take advantage of the templates available. In addition, Ninox Database is much faster than MS Access and many other systems.
On top of all these advantages, this DBMS is not expensive at all. For a professional user, the system costs just $20 per month.
Widely regarded as the best Mac database management system, Knack is very easy to use, elegantly designed and quite powerful.
The DBMS is also low-code, although some coding experience can help for manual adjustments. Knack has been around for over a decade. In that time, many organizations have adopted it in daily practice, including tech giants such as Panasonic and Intel.
The base price for Knack is $39 per month. However, an annual subscription saves two months, making it very affordable for long-term use.
The Best Free Microsoft Access Alternatives
So far, we’ve only dealt with database management systems with monthly subscriptions or one-time payments. But the best solutions don’t have to come with a price tag. Here are some of the best systems completely free.
My visual database
Modern and easy to use, My Visual Database looks like a premium app, especially when compared to other free DBMS solutions.
This system allows users to create databases without coding and has many learning resources. My Visual Database lacks some advanced features, but is ideal for basic database management. The program is available for Microsoft Windows.
If universal usage is the name of the game, DBeaver could be the overall winner. This is an open-source DBMS suitable for commercial and personal purposes.
DBeaver can run on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It also supports multiple database file types, making it possible to import databases from many sources, including MS Access. Best of all, DBeaver not only deals with building a basic database, but also advanced options.
Just as the LibreOffice suite is an excellent open-source replacement for Microsoft Office, LibreOffice Base is a great alternative to MS Access.
LibreOffice Base supports sharing databases between different database types. It can be used to create database applications as well as websites, and users have a choice of embedded database frameworks. LibreOffice Base is open-source and available on all major platforms, including Windows, Mac, and Linux.
The Best Microsoft Access Alternatives in Linux
As you might assume, open source programs are at home on Linux operating systems. Since those programs are also freeware in most cases, entries on the previous list will also be a great MS access alternative to Linux. Specifically, we refer to DBeaver and LibreOffice Base, while My Visual Database is exclusive to Windows.
Apache OpenOffice Base
Like LibreOffice, OpenOffice represents an open-source, free alternative to Microsoft Office. At the same time, Apache OpenOffice Base is a similar solution to LibreOffice Base.
This DBMS contains many tools for personal and business databases with design wizards that make creation and customization hassle-free. It has cross-platform support and allows users to create various reports, forms, tables and more.
Kexi is part of another alternative office suite – Calligra Office. It can handle different database types from different sources and has many advanced features.
The developers of this DBMS and the entire suite to which it belongs have gone to great lengths to make their products as competitive as possible. Therefore, Kexi can be considered as an excellent stand-in option for Microsoft Access.
Manage your databases without MS Access
Microsoft Access is often considered one of the best database management systems available. While this may lead users to think that the system has no alternative, the opposite is true.
We’ve shown you a wide variety of options for creating and managing databases. There are alternatives to MS Access for every platform and, perhaps more importantly, for every budget. With the information from this article you can certainly make the right choice.
Which alternative to Microsoft Access did you choose? How does it compare to MS Access? Let us know in the comments below.