The main advantages of Microsoft Access, available with some versions of Microsoft Office, are low cost, ease of use and integration with other Microsoft services. There are no additional licensing fees beyond Microsoft Office, nor does the program require the server and administrative investment of most relational databases. The graphical interface is familiar to Microsoft Office users, and the programming environment is the same as for Office macros. For those using Microsoft services such as SharePoint, Access integrates well.

In many cases, users create Access databases as an alternative to Excel data storage. Access has more sophisticated data analysis and reporting tools. Although it is possible to create something approaching a database in Excel, it's not particularly efficient and rapidly grows hard to maintain. If an application needs mathematical or accounting features, the Office back-end allows interaction between Excel and Access.

When Excel no longer performs well because of large amounts of data or a user wants to provide data entry forms and reports for others, Access is a good choice. Access has wizard interfaces to aid in form and report creation, so creating small database applications is within the reach of any Office user.

There are some significant disadvantages to using Microsoft Access with multiple users. Access has inherent limits on database size and number of users that make the software inappropriate for use beyond small business. Security in Access is not robust, so it's a poor choice for sensitive data. Additionally, Access is not available in all versions of Microsoft Office, even on Windows platforms.