Connect to data in an Access database (Windows Forms)

Note

This article applies to Visual Studio 2015. If you're looking for Visual Studio 2017 documentation, use the version selector at the top left. We recommend upgrading to Visual Studio 2017. Download it here.

You can connect to an Access database (either an .mdf file or an .accdb file) by using Visual Studio. After you define the connection, the data appears in the Data Sources window. From there, you can drag tables or views onto your forms. If you want to understand how the project system in Visual Studio manages these local database files, see How to: Manage Local Data Files in Your Project.

Prerequisites

To use these procedures, you need a Windows Forms application project, and either an Access database (.accdb file) or an Access 2000–2003 database (.mdb file). Follow the procedure that corresponds to your file type.

Creating the dataset for an .accdb file

You can connect to databases created through Access 2013, Office 365, Access 2010, or Access 2007 by using the following procedure.

To create the dataset

  1. Open the Windows Forms application to which you want to connect data.

  2. On the View menu, select Other Windows > Data Sources.

    View Other Windows Data Sources

  3. In the Data Sources window, click Add New Data Source.

    Add New Data Source

  4. Select Database on the Choose a Data Source Type page, and then select Next.

  5. Select Dataset on the Choose a Database Model page, and then select Next.

  6. On the Choose your Data Connection page, select New Connection to configure a new data connection.

  7. Change the Data source to .NET Framework Data Provider for OLE DB.

    Change Data Provider to OLE DB

    Important

    Although a data source of Microsoft Access Database File (OLE DB) might seem like the right choice, you use that data-source type only for .mdb database files.

  8. In OLE DB Provider, select Microsoft Office 12.0 Access Database Engine OLE DB Provider.

    OLE DB Provider Microsoft Office 12.0 Access

  9. In Server or file name, specify the path and name of the .accdb file to which you want to connect, and then select OK.

    Note

    If the database file has a user name and password, specify them before you select OK.

  10. Select Next on the Choose your Data Connection page.

  11. Select Next on the Save connection string to the Application Configuration file page.

  12. Expand the Tables node on the Choose your Database Objects page.

  13. Select whatever tables or views you want in your dataset, and then select Finish.

    The dataset is added to your project, and the tables and views appear in the Data Sources window.

Creating the dataset for an .mdb file

You create the dataset by running the Data Source Configuration Wizard.

To create the dataset

  1. Open the Windows Forms application to which you want to connect data.

  2. On the View menu, select Other Windows > Data Sources.

    View Other Windows Data Sources

  3. In the Data Sources window, click Add New Data Source.

  4. Select Database on the Choose a Data Source Type page, and then select Next.

  5. Select Dataset on the Choose a Database Model page, and then select Next.

  6. On the Choose your Data Connection page, select New Connection to configure a new data connection.

  7. If the data source is not Microsoft Access Database File (OLE DB), select Change to open the Change Data Source dialog box and select Microsoft Access Database File, and then select OK.

  8. In the Database file name, specify the path and name of the .mdb file to which you want to connect, and then select OK.

    Add Connection Access Database File

  9. Select Next on the Choose your Data Connection page.

  10. Select Next on the Save connection string to the Application Configuration file page.

  11. Expand the Tables node on the Choose your Database Objects page.

  12. Select whatever tables or views you want in your dataset, and then select Finish.

    The dataset is added to your project, and the tables and views appear in the Data Sources window.

Security

Storing sensitive information (such as a password) can affect the security of your application. Using Windows Authentication (also known as integrated security) is a more secure way to control access to a database. For more information, see Protecting Connection Information.

Next Steps

The dataset that you just created is now available in the Data Sources window. You can now perform any of the following tasks:

See Also

Connecting to Data in Visual Studio
Preparing Your Application to Receive Data
Fetching Data into Your Application
Bind controls to data in Visual Studio
Editing Data in Your Application
Validating Data
Saving Data
Data Walkthroughs