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Access: Files

By Crystal Long
February 1, 2020
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As you begin to create and use Access databases on your own, keeping track of files during development is essential, including where they’re stored and their file names. In addition, Access files don’t behave the same way as other Microsoft Office files, so knowing the differences and planning accordingly are important.

 

FILE NAMES

 

When you create an Access database, the first thing you must do is give it a name. That’s simple enough if you’ve already decided what you’ll call your project, but many users accept a default name. That’s fine to start.

 

If you create a database by choosing “Blank desktop database” from the templates, the default file name is Database1.accdb. If you choose another template, the database name will have the template name, such as Projects.accdb or Contacts.accdb. In the New file dialog, the folder where the database will be stored is listed below the file name (see Figure 1). You can change either the file name or folder before the database is created by clicking on the browse folder icon. Navigate to the folder you want to use and enter the file name.

 

 

You can also create a new file without first opening Access. In Windows File Explorer or My Computer, go to the folder you want to use. Then right-click your mouse and choose New, Microsoft Access Database from the shortcut menu. The default name will be New Microsoft Access Database.accdb.

 

When you’re ready for a more descriptive name, you can—and should—rename the file. Close the database, open File Explorer, then locate the folder the file is stored in and change the name there. If you’re unsure of the file’s location, before closing the file in Access, first go to the menu and choose File, Info. The file name and path will be displayed there.

 

STORING DIFFERENT VERSIONS

 

Each time you open an Access database, the file is saved and the file modification date (and time) is updated—even if you don’t change anything in the database. This is unlike other Microsoft applications such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, where the modified date doesn’t change just by opening the file. Therefore, as you’re developing a database or creating a backup, it’s a good idea to add a yymmdd date code to file names. For example, “Contacts 200115.accdb” represents the Contacts database from January 15, 2020.

 

If you use Details view in File Explorer and sort by Date Modified in descending order, the files saved most recently will be at the top of the list. Right-click in the column header area to show or hide columns. It’s helpful to show Name, Date Modified, Size, and Type. Then add any other columns you may want to see, such as Date Created.

 

It’s also wise to display file extensions in File Explorer so you can see the exact file name. Go to View on the ribbon and choose Options, Organize, Folder and Search Options. Uncheck “Hide extensions for known file types.”

 

LACCDB

 

Access databases have an .accdb file extension. When you open an Access database, another file is created with the same name as your database but with an extension of .laccdb (or .ldb for earlier Access versions), as shown in Figure 2. This is a Lock ACCess DataBase file to keep track of the users who have the database open. It prevents multiple concurrent users from changing the same data simultaneously.

 

 

When you close the database normally, the LACCDB file disappears if you’re the only user. Sometimes Windows doesn’t refresh the file list right away, and the LACCDB file still appears in File Explorer even though it’s gone. Press F5 to refresh the view, or right-click and choose “Refresh” from the shortcut menu.

 

If the LACCDB file is still there even though the database is closed, then try to delete it. Make sure you aren’t selecting the ACCDB file. One good check is file size; a LACCDB file is small. If you can’t delete the LACCDB, close all Access applications you have open. If you don’t see any, open the Windows Task Manager, select “Microsoft Access” from the list of programs/apps (if it’s there), and choose End Task.

 

If you can’t delete the LACCDB file and Access isn’t open on your machine, that means that someone else, or another process, is connected to the Access file. This shouldn’t be the case while a database application is in development, so reboot your computer if it happens. If the LACCDB file still doesn’t go away, make a copy of the database with a different name and use the new version.

 

SF SAYS

 

Know where your Access database is and what it’s named. If an Access database is open, there will be an LACCDB (or LDB) file in the same folder as the database.

 

Crystal Long teaches and develops with Microsoft Access, Excel, and Office and specializes in remote training. She connects and helps as your project is built. Visit www.MsAccessGurus.com for information.
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