Compare two versions of a database (Database Compare)

Suppose the design of your Microsoft Access database (Microsoft Access database: A collection of data and objects (such as tables, queries, or forms) that is related to a particular topic or purpose.) has changed (new or modified tables, queries, field properties, forms, or reports) and you want to see a history of these changes. If you’re using Office 2013 Professional Plus or Office 365 ProPlus, you have Database Compare. You can use Database Compare to compare the one version of an Access database to another. You’ll see difference, such as new or changed tables, queries, fields, field properties, and so on, in a SQL Server Reporting Services report that you can export to Excel or save in PDF format.

In this article

Compare two Access databases

  1. Open Database Compare 2013. You’ll see a simple dialog box that has two tabs: Setup and Results.
  2. On the Setup tab, next to the Compare box, use the Browse Browse button button to find the database you want to use as the "baseline" (or the earlier version). When you find the file you want, click Open.
    Compare and To boxes, and report options
  3. Next to the To box, click the Browse Browse button button to find the database that is "changed" (or the most recent version).
  4. In the Report Options section, choose the database objects (tables, queries, macros, modules, reports, forms, or pages) you want compared by checking the boxes next to them.
  5. In the Report Values section, choose Full or Brief to specify how detailed you want the results to be.
  6. Click Compare to run the comparison.

After the comparison has occurred, a SQL Server Reporting Services report opens on your screen. You can export this report to Excel or save the report in PDF format.

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Create backup versions of your database

The best way to keep track of the design changes to your database is by saving one or more backup versions. Backing up your database is a different process than just saving a copy.

  1. Click File > Save As.
  2. Under Save Database As > Advanced, click Back Up Database.

Your backup is saved with the year, month, and date appended to the file name. If you save multiple backups on the same day, an underscore and a number in parentheses is added after the date. Multiple backups of a database named Inventory.accdb from one day (3/13/2012) might look like this:

  • Inventory _2012_03_13.accdb
  • Inventory _2012_03_13_(1).accdb
  • Inventory _2012_03_13_(2).accdb

In earlier versions of Access, your backup is saved with the same file name pattern as Access 2013. To find the Back Up Database command in earlier versions of Access:

  • In Access 2010, click File > Save & Publish > Advanced > Back Up Database.
  • In Access 2007, click the Office Button > Manage > Back Up Database.
  • In Access 2003 and earlier versions, click File > Back Up Database.

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Did you get an "Unable to open Access database” error message?

If you get an “Unable to open Access database” error message, most likely, at least one of the databases is protected by a password. Click OK in the dialog box, and then enter the password. Otherwise, the comparison can't run.

To learn more about how to store passwords in Database Compare, see Manage passwords used to open files for comparison.

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Did you get an “Unhandled exception” error message?

If you get an “Unhandled exception” error message when you attempt to use Database Compare, most likely, some prerequisite components are not installed on your computer. Although Database Compare is included in Office 2013 Professional Plus and Office 365 ProPlus, certain prerequisites that are necessary for Database Compare to work correctly are not installed automatically. For more information, see Database Compare troubleshooting: 'Unhandled exception' error message.

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Applies to:
Database Compare 2013, Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise admin, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 Midsize Business admin