Exporting an Access Inventory (AccessToSQL)

If you have multiple Access databases and you are not sure which ones to migrate into SQL Server, you can export an inventory of all Access databases in a project. You can then review and query the inventory metadata to determine which databases and objects within those databases to migrate. This inventory lets you quickly find answers to questions, such as the following:

  • What are the largest databases?

  • Who owns most of the databases?

  • Which databases contain the same tables?

  • Which databases have not been modified in the last six months?

  • Which databases contain private information?

Query examples that are used to answer these questions are provided at the end of this topic.

Exported Metadata

SSMA exports metadata about Access databases, tables, columns, indexes, foreign keys, queries, reports, forms, macros, and modules. Metadata about each of these categories of items is exported to a separate table. For schemas of these tables, see Access Inventory Schemas.

Exporting Inventory Data

To export an Access inventory, you must first open or create an SSMA project, and then add the Access database that you want to analyze. After you add databases to an SSMA project, you export metadata about those databases to a specified SQL Server database and schema. If necessary, SSMA creates tables to store the metadata. SSMA then adds the metadata about the Access databases to the SQL Server database.


An Access database can be split into multiple files: a back-end database that contains tables and front-end databases that contain queries, forms, reports, macros, modules, and shortcuts. If you want to migrate a split database to SQL Server, add the front-end database to SSMA.

The following instructions describe how to create a project, add databases to the project, connect to SQL Server, and then export inventory data.

To create a project

  1. Open SSMA for Access.

  2. On the File menu, select New Project.

    The New Project dialog box appears.

  3. In the Name box, enter a name for your project.

  4. In the Location box, enter or select a folder for the project.

  5. In the Migrate To combo box, select the target version to which you want to migrate, and then click OK.

For more information about creating projects, see Creating and Managing Projects.

To find and add databases

  1. On the File menu, click Find Databases.

  2. In the Find Databases Wizard, enter the drive, file path, or the UNC path that you want to search. Alternatively, click Browse to select the drive or network folder.

  3. Click Add to add the location to the list box.

    Repeat the previous two steps to add additional search locations.

  4. Optionally, add search criteria to refine the list of databases that are returned.


    The All or part of the file name text box does not support wildcard characters.

  5. Click Scan.

    The Scan page appears. This shows the databases that have been found and the search progress. To stop the search, click Stop.

  6. On the Select Files page, select the each database that you want to add to the project.

    You can use the Select All and Clear All buttons at the top of the list to select or clear all databases. You can also hold the CTRL key down to select multiple rows, or hold the SHIFT key down to select a range of rows.

  7. Click Next.

  8. On the Verify page, click Finish.

For more information about adding databases to projects, see Adding and Removing Access Database Files.

To connect to SQL Server

  1. On the File menu, select Connect to SQL Server.

  2. In the connection dialog box, enter or select the name of the instance of SQL Server.

    • If you are connecting to the default instance on the local computer, you can enter localhost or a dot (.).

    • If you are connecting to the default instance on another computer, enter the name of the computer.

    • If you are connecting to a named instance, enter the computer name, a backslash, and the instance name. For example: MyServer\MyInstance.

  3. In the Database box, enter the name of the target database for exported metadata.

  4. If your instance of SQL Server is configured to accept connections on a non-default port, enter the port number that is used for SQL Server connections in the Server port box. For the default instance of SQL Server, the default port number is 1433. For named instances, SSMA tries to obtain the port number from the SQL Server Browser Service.

  5. In the Authentication drop-down menu, select the authentication type to use for the connection. To use the current Windows account, select Windows Authentication. To use a SQL Server login, select SQL Server Authentication, and then provide a user name and password.

For more information about connecting to SQL Server, see Connecting to SQL Server (AccessToSQL).

To export inventory information

  1. In Access Metadata Explorer, expand Access-metabase.

  2. Select the check box next to Databases.

    To omit individual databases or database objects, expand the Databases folder, and then clear the check box next to the database or database object.

  3. Right-click Databases and select Export Schema.

  4. In the Select Schema for Export dialog box, select the target schema for the exported metadata, and then click OK.

Each time you export metadata, SSMA appends the data to the inventory. Existing data in the inventory is not updated or deleted.

Querying the Exported Metadata

After you export metadata about Access databases, you can query the metadata. The following instructions describe to use the Query Editor window in SQL Server Management Studio to run queries.

To query metadata

  1. From the Start menu, point to All Programs, point to Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 or to Microsoft SQL Server 2012, and then click SQL Server Management Studio.

  2. In the Connect to Server dialog box, verify the settings, and then click Connect.

  3. On the Management Studio toolbar, click New Query to open Query Editor.

  4. In the Query Editor window, enter a query. Some examples are shown in the following section.

  5. Press the F5 key to run the query.

Query Examples

Before you run any of the following queries, you should run a USE database_name query to make sure the queries are run against the database that contains the exported metadata. For example, if you exported metadata to a database named MyAccessMetadata, you would add the following at the beginning of the Transact-SQL code:

USE MyAccessMetadata;  

The following examples all use the dbo schema. If you exported the metadata to another schema, make sure to change the schema when you run these queries.

What tables and columns are in these databases?

The following query joins the tables that contain column, table, and database metadata, and then returns the names of all databases, tables, and columns, sorted by column name:

SELECT DatabaseName, TableName, ColumnName   
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryColumns C  
JOIN dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryTables T  
ON C.TableId = T.TableId  
JOIN dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryDatabases D  
ON T.DatabaseId = D.DatabaseId  
ORDER BY ColumnName;  

What are the largest databases?

The following query returns the database name, file size, and number of tables in each Access database, sorted by file size:

SELECT DatabaseName, FileSize, TablesCount  
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryDatabases  

Who is the owner of most of the databases?

The following query returns the database name and owner of each Access database, sorted by owner.

SELECT DatabaseName, FileOwner  
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryDatabases  
ORDER BY FileOwner;  

Which databases contain the same tables?

The following query uses a subquery to find all table names that appear more than once in the list of tables, and then uses this list of tables to get the database name. The results are returned as the database name and then the table name, and are sorted by table name.

SELECT DatabaseName, TableName   
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryTables T  
JOIN dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryDatabases D  
ON D.DatabaseId = T.DatabaseId  
WHERE TableName IN (  
SELECT TableName   
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryTables  
GROUP BY TableName   
HAVING count(*)>1  
ORDER BY TableName;  

Which databases were not modified in the last six months?

The following query gets the current date, gets the month value for six months ago, and then returns a list of databases with a modified date of greater than six months ago.

SELECT DatabaseName, DateModified  
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryDatabases  
WHERE DATEDIFF(month, DateModified, GETDATE()) > 6  
ORDER BY DateModified;  

Which databases contain private information?

Your Access databases might contain sensitive or personal information. You might want to move these databases to SQL Server to take advantage of its security features. If you know that columns containing sensitive data have a specific name, or contain specific characters, you can use a query to find all columns that contain that information. For example, you can find all columns that include the string "salary". The query then returns the database name, table name, and column name.

SELECT DatabaseName, TableName, ColumnName   
FROM dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryColumns C  
JOIN dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryTables T  
ON C.TableId = T.TableId  
JOIN dbo.SSMA_Access_InventoryDatabases D  
ON T.DatabaseId = D. DatabaseId  
WHERE ColumnName LIKE '%salary%';  

If you do not know the column name, you can write a query to return all columns. To do this, remove the WHERE clause from the previous query.

See Also

Preparing Access Databases for Migration