Quickly Link SQL Server Tables in Access

Long gone are the days when I did much application development in MS Access.  However, I still find it a darn good tool for querying, reporting and doing quick edits to data stored in other platforms.

I wrote this code ages ago to allow me to quickly create linked tables in MS Access for SQL Server tables/views. It is much faster than the manual UI approach and doesn’t require setting up a DSN on the local system to make the connection


Use the immediate window (ctrl-G) to enter these commands:

Link every table in a SQL database(“MYDB”) from SQL Server Instance (“MYSQLSERVER”)

Link a single table(“MySQLTable”) in a SQL database (“MYSQLDB”)  from SQL Server Instance named “MYSQLSERVER”
? LinkTable(MyTableAliasInAccess, MYSQLSERVER,MYDB,MYSQLTABLE,True)

The Code

Just paste this code into a new module in the Access database and you are ready to go.

Sub LinkAllTables(Server As String, database As String, OverwriteIfExists As Boolean) 'Usage Example (link all tables in database "SQLDB" on SQL Server Instance SQO01, overwriting any existing linked tables. 'linkalltables "SQL01","SQLDB", true 'This will also update the link if the underlying table definition has been modified. Dim rsTableList As New ADODB.Recordset Dim sqlTableList As String sqlTableList = "SELECT [name] as tablename FROM sysObjects WHERE (type = 'U')" rsTableList.Open sqlTableList, BuildSQLConnectionString(Server, database) While Not rsTableList.EOF If LinkTable(rsTableList("tableName"), Server, database, rsTableList("tableName"), OverwriteIfExists) Then Debug.Print "Linked: " & rsTableList("tableName") End If rsTableList.MoveNext Wend rsTableList.Close Debug.Print "Done." End Sub Function LinkTable(LinkedTableAlias As String, Server As String, database As String, SourceTableName As String, OverwriteIfExists As Boolean) 'This method will also update the link if the underlying table definition has been modified. 'The overwrite parameter will cause it to re-map/refresh the link for LinktedTable Alias, but only if it was already a linked table. ' it will not overwrite an existing query or local table with the name specified in LinkedTableAlias. 'Links to a SQL Server table without the need to set up a DSN in the ODBC Console. Dim dbsCurrent As database Dim tdfLinked As TableDef ' Open a database to which a linked table can be appended. Set dbsCurrent = CurrentDb() 'Check for and deal with the scenario ofthe table alias already existing If TableNameInUse(LinkedTableAlias) Then If (Not OverwriteIfExists) Then Debug.Print "Can't use name '" + LinkedTableAlias + "' because it would overwrite existing table." Exit Function End If 'delete existing table, but only if it is a linked table If IsLinkedTable(LinkedTableAlias) Then dbsCurrent.TableDefs.Delete LinkedTableAlias dbsCurrent.TableDefs.Refresh Else Debug.Print "Can't use name '" + LinkedTableAlias + "' because it would overwrite an existing query or local table." Exit Function End If End If 'Create a linked table Set tdfLinked = dbsCurrent.CreateTableDef(LinkedTableAlias) tdfLinked.SourceTableName = SourceTableName tdfLinked.Connect = "ODBC;DRIVER={SQL Server};SERVER=" & Server & ";DATABASE=" & database & ";TRUSTED_CONNECTION=yes;" On Error Resume Next dbsCurrent.TableDefs.Append tdfLinked If (Err.Number = 3626) Then 'too many indexes on source table for Access Err.Clear On Error GoTo 0 If LinkTable(LinkedTableAlias, Server, database, "vw" & SourceTableName, OverwriteIfExists) Then Debug.Print "Can't link directly to table '" + SourceTableName + "' because it contains too many indexes for Access to handle. Linked to view '" & "vw" & SourceTableName & "' instead." LinkTable = True Else Debug.Print "Can't link table '" + SourceTableName + "' because it contains too many indexes for Access to handle. Create a view named '" & "vw" & SourceTableName & "' that selects all rows/columns from '" & SourceTableName & "' and try again to circumvent this." LinkTable = False End If Exit Function End If On Error GoTo 0 tdfLinked.RefreshLink LinkTable = True End Function Function BuildSQLConnectionString(Server As String, DBName As String) As String BuildSQLConnectionString = "Driver={SQL Server};Server=" & Server & ";Database=" & DBName & ";TRUSTED_CONNECTION=yes;" End Function Function TableNameInUse(TableName As String) As Boolean 'check for local tables, linked tables and queries (they all share the same namespace) TableNameInUse = DCount("*", "MSYSObjects", "(Type = 4 or type=1 or type=5) AND [Name]='" & TableName & "'") > 0 End Function Function IsLinkedTable(TableName As String) As Boolean IsLinkedTable = DCount("*", "MSYSObjects", "(Type = 4) AND [Name]='" & TableName & "'") > 0 End Function

9 Responses

  1. Nice article. I, too, have old, deep MS Access roots and developed routines for linking. Now, in the 21st century, the question I have is — do you know if Azure (or other SQL in the cloud, like Amazon) supports linking from desktop to cloud?

    • I think that depends more on the DB platform than the cloud. I haven’t worked with Azure very much yet, but with Amazon and most other Hardware-as-a-service providers it should be no different than working against a DB server in a remote part of the building. You just have to make sure to configure the “virtual” firewall correctly for whatever ports/protocols you expect to communicate with the DB over.

  2. Hi…
    I’ve been looking for this codes…how can i use it to MySql as Back End

    • Just change the connection string in BuildSQLConnectionString to the appropriate one for your MySQL Server. It should work without modifications to the rest of it.

      • Thanx a lot John…do you always use linking tables method ? i’ve heard a lot issues that linking tables is not recomended for network and multi user…i have not tried Lingking Tables in the network….

        • As opposed to what, exactly? Linking tables always seems to work just fine for me.

          If you have seen any information to the contrary, please come back and give me a link, but as far as I am concerned this is as good a technique as any.

          What you may be confusing is that using an Access DB as a backend can be problematic over unreliable network connections or with large numbers of concurrent users. However, those problems have nothing to do with using Access as a front-end with linked tables to another RDBMS.

  3. Wow, thanks a lot man.
    Just what I needed. I feared I had to do 100+ tables by hand. 🙂
    I found your link on stackoverflow.

  4. Any chance that this code can be developed to include linking to stored procs as queries? I have been looking around with no luck in finding the right code.

    • Not from the client/consumer side. You would need to somehow construct a view that called the stored procedure on the SQL side. Here is some discussion on StackOverflow on how you might do that.

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