Mon, Apr
1 New Articles

TechTip: Run MS Access Apps for Free!

  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

With MS Access Runtime, users can run Access applications without buying a license.

Microsoft Access has always been a powerful tool that is easy to use for users of almost any skill. It can store relational data, interact with other Office applications such as Word and Excel, and present users with attractive forms and reports. For IBM i shops, it can even import and export data from other databases such as DB2 for i using ODBC. It can also be used programmatically using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). However, in spite of it being a useful tool, several major things have hindered widespread adoption of Access:

  • The combination of its power and ease of use gives untrained users the ability to create "monsters."
  • The price is prohibitive.
  • It's a (very) "fat client," requiring quite a few resources.
  • Installation and deployment create headaches.

Well, we can now kiss goodbye some of those Access woes—namely, price and part of the deployment issues. Starting with Access 2007, Microsoft has made a free end-user runtime edition that will allow users to use an existing database without having an Access license. Users of the Runtime edition can run forms and modify data but can't create a new database or make a design change to an existing one (which prevents them from creating monsters!). This is similar in concept to the free Word viewer or PowerPoint viewer applications; users who don't own Microsoft Office can download the viewer to "view" (but not modify) an Office document.

Unlike the other Office viewers, the Access runtime is a large download. It must be installed on every machine that will run an Access application. Although this is an inconvenience, this is similar to installing a Windows or browser add-in such as Adobe Reader, the .NET Framework, Silverlight, or Flash. While not ideal, it is better than installing a full-blown copy of Office Professional or Access.

If you've been involved in the Access world for a long time, you may remember that the "run time" edition of Access was a pain in the neck. Prior to Access 2007, there was a cost to acquire the "run time" tool, learning the tool required time, you'd need to create an EXE tool to distribute the application to the users, and finally, at least in early editions, the run time didn't always behave the same as the regular edition. The new run time has eliminated these problems.

Shown in Figure 1 below is a copy of a sample Access application running in the Access 2010 Runtime on Windows XP.

Figure 1: This Access application looks and acts the same in both environments. (Click image to enlarge.)

One other benefit worth mentioning is that this Runtime edition will allow IT departments to easily keep users on the latest version of Access without having to purchase the latest version for everyone. After just doing some recent Access 2.0- and Access 97-to-Access 2010 upgrade projects, this is a splendid development! I've known several companies that have kept their MS Office licenses back-leveled because of the cost or upgrade headaches. But as we all know, staying back-leveled will eventually present a large cost as well.

Two Potential Caveats with the Runtime Product

If you're going to use the Access runtime, there are a couple things to beware.

1. If you choose to deploy an Access database to users using the Runtime edition, bear in mind that the database window will not be available. So, if you're used to having users run a query or report directly from the database window, that approach will no longer work. Everything needs to be presented to the user from a form or menu.


Further, you will need to make sure that there is a menu or start-up form of some kind to present to your users. If this is not done (and without the database Window), the user will be faced with an empty Access Runtime window.


2. If the Access application is on a network drive, you will be plagued with the "trusted" dialog prompt, forcing users to confirm they'd like to continue. I had a database that used linked tables that wouldn't even run because the linked database couldn't be "trusted." In case you're unfamiliar with it, Office applications have a security concept called "trusted" sites. By default, Access databases located on a network drive are considered untrusted (due to potential security risks.) When a user requests to open a networked database, Access will prompt a user to confirm that he or she really wants to open a database from a non-trusted location, which gets annoying fast. However, there is an option in Access where you can define "trusted" network locations so that users aren't continually pestered by this behavior.

Inexplicably, Microsoft did not include a utility or even the original Access option in the Access Runtime to configure trusted locations. So how does one indicate for the Access Runtime trusted local and network locations? Fortunately, this problem can be fixed with a few registry entries. The text below shows a sample registry (.reg) file used to define a trusted location to drive X:\MyApp.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Access\Security\Trusted Locations]

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Access\Security\Trusted Locations\Location100]
"Date"="07.01.2011 00:00"
"Description"="My Access Application"

Registry files are plain text files, so you can use Notepad to create one. All you need to do is paste the registry entries into a text-based registry (.reg) file, save it ,and double-click to modify the registry on each user's machine. When these entries are placed in the registry, your application will be able to open the network databases without the annoying message.


The sample registry keys in the text above are shown for the Access 2010 Runtime (aka Access 14). For Access 2007 (aka Access 12), substitute 12.0 instead of 14.0 in the path references. The date reference in the registry file is in dd.mm.yyyy format. If I remember correctly, you cannot identify the root of a network drive as a trusted site.

Providing Easy Access to Access


With the Access Runtime, you can cheaply and easily keep your users on the latest version of Access. Also, there is an inherent "protection" built in because the run time edition keeps nosy users from peeping into the internals or modifying a database. One of the few drawbacks is that all functionality must be accessible via a menu or form because the database Window is no longer available. For more info on how the IBM i can interact with Access, see the references section.

Microsoft Links

Access 2007 Runtime Download

Access 2010 Runtime Download

Free Sample Access Applications for Access 2007 and up

Links for Using Access and i/OS

"More AS/400 Client/Server Programming with ADO and VBA"

"Links, Imports, Exports: Using ODBC to Share OS/400 Data with Microsoft Access"

"Launching SQL Statements Through Microsoft Access Pass-through Queries"

"Invasion of the BLOBs"

as/400, os/400, iseries, system i, i5/os, ibm i, power systems, 6.1, 7.1, V7, V6R1

Michael Sansoterra is a DBA for Broadway Systems in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Support MC Press Online

$0.00 Raised:

Book Reviews

Resource Center

  • SB Profound WC 5536 Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application. You can find Part 1 here. In Part 2 of our free Node.js Webinar Series, Brian May teaches you the different tooling options available for writing code, debugging, and using Git for version control. Brian will briefly discuss the different tools available, and demonstrate his preferred setup for Node development on IBM i or any platform. Attend this webinar to learn:

  • SB Profound WP 5539More than ever, there is a demand for IT to deliver innovation. Your IBM i has been an essential part of your business operations for years. However, your organization may struggle to maintain the current system and implement new projects. The thousands of customers we've worked with and surveyed state that expectations regarding the digital footprint and vision of the company are not aligned with the current IT environment.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT Generic IBM announced the E1080 servers using the latest Power10 processor in September 2021. The most powerful processor from IBM to date, Power10 is designed to handle the demands of doing business in today’s high-tech atmosphere, including running cloud applications, supporting big data, and managing AI workloads. But what does Power10 mean for your data center? In this recorded webinar, IBMers Dan Sundt and Dylan Boday join IBM Power Champion Tom Huntington for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux. In this action-packed hour, Tom will share trends from the IBM i and AIX user communities while Dan and Dylan dive into the tech specs for key hardware, including:

  • Magic MarkTRY the one package that solves all your document design and printing challenges on all your platforms. Produce bar code labels, electronic forms, ad hoc reports, and RFID tags – without programming! MarkMagic is the only document design and print solution that combines report writing, WYSIWYG label and forms design, and conditional printing in one integrated product. Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Request your trial now!  Request Now.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericForms of ransomware has been around for over 30 years, and with more and more organizations suffering attacks each year, it continues to endure. What has made ransomware such a durable threat and what is the best way to combat it? In order to prevent ransomware, organizations must first understand how it works.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericIT security is a top priority for businesses around the world, but most IBM i pros don’t know where to begin—and most cybersecurity experts don’t know IBM i. In this session, Robin Tatam explores the business impact of lax IBM i security, the top vulnerabilities putting IBM i at risk, and the steps you can take to protect your organization. If you’re looking to avoid unexpected downtime or corrupted data, you don’t want to miss this session.

  • SB HelpSystems ROBOT GenericCan you trust all of your users all of the time? A typical end user receives 16 malicious emails each month, but only 17 percent of these phishing campaigns are reported to IT. Once an attack is underway, most organizations won’t discover the breach until six months later. A staggering amount of damage can occur in that time. Despite these risks, 93 percent of organizations are leaving their IBM i systems vulnerable to cybercrime. In this on-demand webinar, IBM i security experts Robin Tatam and Sandi Moore will reveal:

  • FORTRA Disaster protection is vital to every business. Yet, it often consists of patched together procedures that are prone to error. From automatic backups to data encryption to media management, Robot automates the routine (yet often complex) tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAManaging messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. Messages need a response and resources must be monitored—often over multiple systems and across platforms. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events? Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAThe thought of printing, distributing, and storing iSeries reports manually may reduce you to tears. Paper and labor costs associated with report generation can spiral out of control. Mountains of paper threaten to swamp your files. Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing. Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

  • FORTRAFor over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i. With batch job creation and scheduling at its core, the Robot Job Scheduling Solution reduces the opportunity for human error and helps you maintain service levels, automating even the biggest, most complex runbooks. Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:

  • LANSA Business users want new applications now. Market and regulatory pressures require faster application updates and delivery into production. Your IBM i developers may be approaching retirement, and you see no sure way to fill their positions with experienced developers. In addition, you may be caught between maintaining your existing applications and the uncertainty of moving to something new.

  • LANSAWhen it comes to creating your business applications, there are hundreds of coding platforms and programming languages to choose from. These options range from very complex traditional programming languages to Low-Code platforms where sometimes no traditional coding experience is needed. Download our whitepaper, The Power of Writing Code in a Low-Code Solution, and:

  • LANSASupply Chain is becoming increasingly complex and unpredictable. From raw materials for manufacturing to food supply chains, the journey from source to production to delivery to consumers is marred with inefficiencies, manual processes, shortages, recalls, counterfeits, and scandals. In this webinar, we discuss how:

  • The MC Resource Centers bring you the widest selection of white papers, trial software, and on-demand webcasts for you to choose from. >> Review the list of White Papers, Trial Software or On-Demand Webcast at the MC Press Resource Center. >> Add the items to yru Cart and complet he checkout process and submit

  • Profound Logic Have you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.

  • SB Profound WC 5536Join us for this hour-long webcast that will explore:

  • Fortra IT managers hoping to find new IBM i talent are discovering that the pool of experienced RPG programmers and operators or administrators with intimate knowledge of the operating system and the applications that run on it is small. This begs the question: How will you manage the platform that supports such a big part of your business? This guide offers strategies and software suggestions to help you plan IT staffing and resources and smooth the transition after your AS/400 talent retires. Read on to learn: