Microsoft Access Database

In short

Proprietary, binary, closed format.

item info
types Database
preferred ❌ no
extensions .accdb, .mdb
related formats CSV, dbase, HDF5, SIARD, SQL, XML
wikipedia Microsoft_Access


Microsoft Access is widely used for creating databases. The Access .mdb and .accdb formats are, however, very poorly supported outside the commercial versions of Microsoft Access. Owing to the different versions of these formats, even Access itself will not always support the files very well.

DANS has enabled many databases created with Microsoft Access to be processed in a sustainable and accessible manner by storing the tables from the database as separate CSV text files.


Export data as CSV and data description as PDF/A.

When storing the tables as CSV files, only the tabular data from a database are retained.

In Microsoft Access databases, the Database Documentation feature can be used to generate a document with column descriptions and table relationships. This document has data type Text (formatted) and can be stored as a PDF/A file.

It must be ensured that all codes and variables used can be explained. This may mean providing more detailed descriptions in a separate document or “code book”.

See also