Encrypting an Access Database

Access offers strong encryption for Access databases in ACCDB format

Security-conscious database users have long called for the ability to use strong encryption in Microsoft Access. With the release of Access 2007, Microsoft answered these pleas and introduced a robust encryption feature that enhances the security of Access databases.

Note that these instructions are for Access 2007. If you are using a later version of Access, read Password Protecting an Access 2010 Database or Password Protecting an Access 2013 Database.

What Is Encryption?

Encryption protects your database file from prying eyes. It transforms the way data is stored on your disk so that individuals who do not know the database password cannot open the database or use other techniques to view the file contents. Security professionals recommend the use of encryption to protect sensitive information.

How Do I Encrypt an Access 2007 Database?

Access 2007 users may encrypt databases stored in ACCDB format by password-protecting them. Note that this feature is not available for databases stored in the older MDB format.

  1. Click the Microsoft Office button in Access 2007.
  2. In the Office menu, click Open.
  3. Select the database you want to encrypt and click on it one time.
  4. Click the downward facing arrow located just to the right of the Open button.
  5. Select Open Exclusive from the drop-down menu to open the database in exclusive mode.
  6. In the Database Tools tab, double-click Encrypt with Password.
  1. Enter a password for the database in the Password and Verify fields of the Set Database Password dialog box.
  2. Click OK to encrypt the database.

How Do I Decrypt an Access 2007 Database?

If you want to open an encrypted database for use and then re-encrypt it when you are finished, Microsoft Access handles the mechanics for you.

Simply open the database as you normally would and enter the database password when prompted to do so. Access decrypts the database for your use and then saves a new encrypted copy when you make changes.

If you want to remove encryption from an encrypted Access database, open the database in exclusive mode and then click “Decrypt Database” in the Database Tools group.

What Type of Encryption Does Access 2007 Use?

Access 2007 uses the Microsoft Cryptographic API so it supports any cryptographic algorithm available in Windows as a Cryptographic Service Provider (CSP). This is a great improvement over earlier versions of Access, which only supported a built-in, weak encryption algorithm.