FileMaker Pro Vs. Microsoft Access: Which is Better?

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For small to medium businesses that wish to make a choice between the best database management system, we give you a comparison between FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access.

Did You Know?
FileMaker was going to be a part of Microsoft Office, but was bought by Apple as part of their word-processing suite.

Databases are used for storing data that is synchronized with a server to retrieve it easily. It serves as an online inventory, and software companies protect it with an overzealous attitude in order to safeguard the privacy of users. Database management has evolved from a single server to a server-based database system that serves multiple users, and finally a web-integrated database the allows the updation and removal of data from almost anywhere. So, the question arises as to what features do we look for while choosing one? The two most popular database management systems currently trending are FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access.

FileMaker Pro Vs. Microsoft Access

FileMaker is a database management software that began as an MS-DOS based program, but now runs successfully on the Mac platform. It has a GUI-interface with drag-and-drop options for easy management of data. It is available on a variety of platforms, and the latest version has more themes and templates for the creation of iOS databases. It can connect to SQL databases, such as SQL Server and Oracle by installing an Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver. But the software has gone through major updates, and currently has an app that lets you manage data. One of the improved features is the Popover button, which pops over if a user taps or clicks it. FileMaker Pro occupies only 26MB on the disk. It has the capacity of storing data up to 8TB in a single file. It has 3 different versions according to your uses, namely, FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Pro Advanced, and FileMaker WebDirect to access your database from web browsers.

Microsoft Access has been available as part of the Microsoft Office suite, in conjunction with the Jet database engine, and has provided support for all programs such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc. It works well as a front-end application, while getting back-end support from databases such as Oracle, Sybase, etc. The application size on the disk is 160MB. Access allows data storage of 1TB on the SharePoint server, but only allows 2GB storage in a single file. In order to make a better decision, we take a look at the features of each.

Operating Platform

FileMaker is a cross-platform database system, compatible with Windows, OS X, and iOS.

Microsoft Access, from here on called Access, is suited to run on Microsoft Windows, and better adapts to the Microsoft Office suite.


FileMaker Pro has objects such as layouts, layouts with summaries, scripts, and plug-ins to build the database. It uses scripts and third-party plug-ins to access the database.

In Microsoft Access, you can include a number of objects, such as tables, queries, forms, reports, data access pages, macros, and modules. Access uses a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) as its development language, which is a subset of Visual Basic.

Number of Users

Access can support 255 users concurrently.

FileMaker Server, in conjunction with FileMaker Pro, can support 250 users at once.

Number of Modes

FileMaker Pro has 3 modes: design view to edit the design of the layout, the find view to search for records, and the browse view to display records.

Access has an Automated Safe mode to detect any problems within the file, and the User-Initiated Safe mode which makes it possible to run the file even if it’s corrupted.


FileMaker Pro has AES-256 bit encryption to secure data on a desktop or a server, used to protect classified information by the US government.

Access files can be secured by transferring to Microsoft SQL server. It gives additional protection by providing workgroup security, which requires a username and password, that can be used to specify if the particular person is given read-only or read-and-write privileges.


For a single user of FileMaker Pro, it charges USD 9.00 per month on an annual basis. For a single user of FileMaker Pro Advanced, it charges USD 15.00 per month annually. To manage a database server, you can employ the services of FileMaker WebDirect, which charges on the basis of its users. It charges USD 54.00 per month annually for 5 users, and USD 279.00 for 50 users. It charges differently for volume licenses, which can be installed on more than one computer.

Microsoft Access users can enjoy the full benefits of this software as well as the rest of the Office Suite for USD 6.99 per month, or USD 69.99 for the whole year. For households, you can enjoy it for USD 9.99 per month, or USD 99.99 per year. For business users, it charges USD 5.00 for Office 365 Business Essentials, USD 8.25 for Office 365 Business, and USD 12.50 for Office 365 Business Premium, according to the different versions.

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access, it can be summarized that, users with a paid license of FileMaker Pro can access the FileMaker Server for free. To run your solution on an iPad or iPhone, you can download the FileMaker Go app, which can be downloaded at no cost from the Apple Store. Microsoft Access is for programmers who are used to MS Office and its applications, while FileMaker can be used by non-programmers who are novices to database programming, due to its drag-and-drop interface.

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