Encrypting Access 2013 Databases

Smart password protection

Password being tweezed from binary code

Philipp Theis / Getty Images

Password-protecting an Access database allows you to protect your sensitive data from prying eyes. Encrypted databases require a password to open. Users attempting to open the database without the correct password will be denied access. Additionally, users attempting to directly access the database's ACCDB file will not be able to view any of the data contained within it, as the encryption obscures the data from view by those without the proper password.

In this tutorial, we walk you through the process of encrypting your database and protecting with a password, step by step. You'll learn how you can easily apply strong encryption to your database that renders it inaccessible to unauthorized individuals. One word of warning: encryption can prevent you from accessing your own data if you lose the password. Be sure to use a password that you can easily remember.

These instructions are specific to Microsoft Access 2013.

There are separate instructions for Access 2007 and Access 2010.

Applying Encryption to Your Access 2013 Database

Microsoft makes the process of applying encryption to your Access 2013 database very straightforward. Simply follow these steps to secure your database content:

  1. Open Microsoft Access 2013 and open the database that you wish to password protect in exclusive mode. You may do this by selecting Open from the File menu and navigating to the database you'd like to encrypt and then click it once. Then, instead of just clicking Open, click the downward arrow to Open. Choose Open Exclusive to open the database in exclusive mode.
  2. When the database opens, go to the File tab and click Info.
  3. Click Encrypt with Password.
  4. Choose a strong password for your database and enter it in both the Password and Verify boxes in the Set Database Password dialog box. Once you've done this, click OK.

That's all there is to it. After clicking OK, your database will be encrypted. (This may take a while depending on the size of your database). The next time you open your database, you'll be prompted to enter the password before accessing it.

A Strong Password is Key

One of the most important things you can do when password protecting a database is to choose a strong password to protect the database contents. If someone is able to guess your password, either by making an educated guess or simply trying possible passwords until they correctly identify your password, all of your encryption is out the window, and the attacker has the same access level that would be granted to a legitimate database user.

How to Choose a Strong Database Password

  • Use a password that consists of at least eight characters. The longer the better. If you (and your users) can tolerate typing in a sixteen character password, go for it. Longer passwords are much harder to guess.
  • Combine multiple character classes in your password. You should use a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, digits, and symbols in your password.
  • Don't use dictionary words in your password. Attackers will use automated programs designed to guess dictionary words in an attempt to discover your password.
  • If you think you're being clever by taking a dictionary word and replacing the letter "O" with the digit "0" or replacing the letter "l" with the number "1", you're not. Attackers know these simple tricks and will use them in their guessing.
  • Don't use a password that is related to you, your family, or your company. Someone who knows you and is trying to hack into your database will immediately try guessing the names of your significant other and pet.

When used properly, database passwords can provide strong peace of mind and solid security for your sensitive information. Be sure to choose a strong password and safeguard it so that it does not fall into the wrong hands. If you suspect that your password has been compromised, change it immediately.

Was this page helpful?