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How do I open an MDB file without using Microsoft Access?

Last Reviewed:
1st March 2012

The Access ODBC driver lets you open an MDB file without using MS Access. The Access ODBC driver enables applications that support ODBC to connect to an MDB file on Linux and UNIX machines (platforms on which Microsoft Access is not available). The ODBC-ODBC Bridge provides an alternative way to connect ODBC applications to an MDB file on Linux and UNIX platforms. These two products are described here.

Both the Access ODBC driver and the ODBC-ODBC Bridge can also open an ACCDB file, the database file format introduced in Microsoft Office Access 2007.

Access has four components: a structure to hold data (tables), a way to manipulate that data (the Microsoft Jet Database Engine), an environment to create a front end for the data (Design view of forms and reports) and tools that can run the front end (Data view of forms and reports). Access data is stored in a database file, which has the extension .mdb.

A DBMS-based ODBC driver accesses the data in a database through a separate database engine. Microsoft’s Access ODBC driver is a DBMS-based ODBC driver that accesses an MDB file through the Jet Database Engine. (The ODBC-ODBC Bridge uses Microsoft’s Access ODBC driver to connect to an MDB file.) A file-based ODBC driver accesses the data in a database directly. Our Access ODBC driver is a file-based ODBC driver that can connect to a MDB file that is visible through the local file system on the machine where the driver is installed.

ODBC drivers support SQL, the database query language that Access generates in Query Design View or lets you enter directly. Some ODBC applications, for example OpenOffice.org Base, provide a graphical interface that let you interact with the Access database in a similar way to the Access front end application.

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