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Old 07-22-2016, 07:42 AM
clarinetist clarinetist is offline
Join Date: Aug 2011
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Originally Posted by JMO View Post
Snobs around here look down on Access. But it's useful. If you get a chance to be introduced to SQL, that would be a great alternative. But if Access is what's available, go for it.
There is more to preferring SQL over Access than just being a snob.

When I was an actuarial analyst, too much of my work involved working with a six-million row x 12-column Access table and having to create a MakeTable query requiring 10-20 JOINs. One of the things I learned rather quickly is that Access has a 2GB limit, and if any Access database surpasses this - even if it's from creating a new table through a routine MakeTable query - the query will crash, corrupting your database. I got good at making backups of my Access databases once I realized this problem.

Now you think, there's gotta be a way to get around this problem! Well, there is. What you have to do is create one Access database per table and link them to an Access database with nothing in it, and run the MakeTable query in there. It goes unsaid how tedious this is. But of course, if your MakeTable query is 2GB or more on its own, you're screwed.

I hated dealing with this back when I was an actuarial analyst, and I would never wish this upon anyone. The department I was in was too cheap to pay for SQL Server Management Studio, which I use daily in my current job.

That said, I think people should know how to use Access when the need arises. Not every database will be as large as the ones I worked with back when I was an actuarial analyst, for which Access is fine for most purposes. The OP should learn how to execute every type of query that is available in Access and to create a calculated field. Knowing this will give the OP an edge over most EL candidates.
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Why I hate Microsoft Access.

Studying/Reading: Measure-theoretic probability, concurrent and distributed computing.

Last edited by clarinetist; 07-22-2016 at 07:51 AM..
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Old 09-10-2016, 11:03 PM
bravesandfalcons bravesandfalcons is offline
Join Date: Dec 2013
College: Georgia State University
Posts: 267

I'm not as experienced as some of the others who have replied to your post, but SQL will take you very far and will help you pick up Access much quicker. As for how to learn SQL and VBA, I have used the Wise Owl Tutorials Channel on YouTube to get the basics. Both series are very well taught and I've gotten a lot out of both of them. As for projects, the best way unfortunately is to have something that you need to automate or a database you need to extract data from at work or on your own time. Just like anything else, if you don't use it you lose it.

I hope you find this helpful.

Last edited by bravesandfalcons; 09-26-2016 at 02:09 PM..
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Old 09-11-2016, 09:15 PM
Arlie_Proctor Arlie_Proctor is offline
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: N.J.
College: Indiana University
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Originally Posted by jx98199 View Post
What makes SQL Server superior to Access? Does the former allow you to do more sophisticated things with the data? Is it more user-friendly? Does Access have a history of technical problems? I'll admit I'm pretty far out of my depth here.
Access is extremely limited in what it can handle in terms of large data sets. The specifications are available here:

Enterprise level databases like SQL Server and Oracle can handle MUCH larger data sets and provide support for more advanced query techniques like analytical functions and queries that combine both inner and outer joins.

That said, Access is a tool that every actuary should know...sometimes it is your only available choice, so time spent learning it is not wasted.
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