A play on words – the Axis of Evil, three countries that foster or promote terrorism. This is not a history lesson or political discussion, go here for that.

So what is the Access of Evil? I would propose that the following practices conspire to bring down any well-ordered collection of data:

  • MS Access
  • MS Excel
  • SELECT *.
  • So do I have anything meaningful to add to this discussion at this point, or was I just pleased with myself for coming up with a funny blog title?

    When I show off software that helps move data FROM or TO Excel and Access, people go ‘oooooh’ and ‘ahhhhhhh.’ When I follow-up with a disclaimer that you should really think about why you are doing so, I get lots of nervous laughs and giggles.

    Terrorism, really?

    Harsh words perhaps, but there are enough horror stories out there to fuel the debate.

    I do not think any of these things by themselves are evil, but I do think a whole lot of evil has been accomplished with their help. I would even take a step further and say that they encouraged bad things to happen. Folks that normally would not be trusted with production data are now ’empowered’ by tools that do not require a lot technical or data quality skills.

    Don’t be the guy or gal that made a business decision based on a spreadsheet someone made 4 months ago. And especially don’t be the guy or gal that builds the Access database that uses an ODBC link to SQL or Oracle that uses multiple SQL * FROM table1,table2,table3, … tableN statements.


    I'm a Distinguished Product Manager at Oracle. My mission is to help you and your company be more efficient with our database tools.


    1. You are blaming a PEBCAK problem on the software. Shame on you.

      Anyone in any environment can write inefficient SQL that will bring a system to its knees.

      • JeffS

        Software shouldn’t make some things easier. For example, Toad has a button for truncating a table. I always blame the software over the user 🙂

        Access by default writes inefficient SQL. I won’t back down from that comment. Putting production data in an Access file so you can share it with the non-database people is something I would think twice about, and I see that happen ALL the time.

        I won’t abdicate folks of their responsibility, but I wouldn’t give a gun to a 2 year old either. That’s probably not a fair analogy, but it’s what came to mind.

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