How to Install the Northwind Sample Database in Microsoft Access

Smiling young businesswoman using her laptop
Shannon Fagan/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Sample database files give you a good start on how to use a particular type of file in Microsoft Access, with data already prefilled for you.

The Northwind database is the basis for many tutorials and books on using Microsoft Access and is a popular learning tool for users new to Microsoft Access.

How to Install the Database in MS Access 2003

When you install Microsoft Office Access 2003, the sample Access database is installed along with it.

This MDB file is called Northwind.mdb, and the ADP project it belongs to is named NorthwindCS.adp.

Here's how to get it:

  1. Open Microsoft Access.
  2. From the Help menu, choose Sample Databases.
  3. Select Northwind Sample Database to open the Northwind.mdb file.
  4. If you've already installed Northwind, it opens immediately. If this is the first time you are using the database, you'll be walked through the installation process.
  5. If prompted to do so, insert the Microsoft Office CD requested by the installation process.

Here's how to install the Northwind sample Access project (the ADP file):

  1. Access the Help > Sample Databases menu.
  2. Choose Northwind Sample Access Project.
  3. Follow the on-screen installation steps.

Note: These instructions are for Microsoft Access 2003. See Installing the Northwind Sample Database in MS Access if you're using a newer version of Access.

What Is the Northwind Database?

The Northwind database ships pre-installed with the Microsoft Access 2003 application and is based on a fictitious company named Northwind Traders, which imports and exports specialty foods around the world.

The database contains some great sample tables, queries, reports, and other database features. It incorporates sales transactions between the company and its customers, along with purchasing details between the company and its vendors.

This database also has tables for inventory, orders, customers, employees, and more, which is a perfect way to learn more about how to use MS Access.

You might want to use this particular database to experiment with designing queries using the Orders table, and other related tables for trend analysis since they contain records for a three-year period.

With the Northwind sample database, you can practice with tables, forms, reports, macros, inventory, invoices, and VBA modules.

Microsoft Access Uses

Microsoft Access provides a robust way for small companies to track data and projects. It takes more time to learn than Microsoft's other programs like Excel and Word, but it also lets you build projects and budgets, and forecast growth.

Access makes it easy to run charts and reports against your data. Plus, it comes with templates to make the process user-friendly.

With Access, companies can track all the information for every client, including order information, addresses, invoices and payments. Advanced features allow the mapping of client addresses to plan routes for deliveries.

Access can monitor marketing and sales information. With existing client information in the database, Access makes it easy to send email, flyers, coupons, and regular mail to promote sales or special offers.

Was this page helpful?