Guest Author - Lisa Shea
One of the most basic ways to use ASP with a database is to connect to a Microsoft Access database file. This requires little technical knowledge but has limited scope.
Just about every Windows PC comes with a built in copy of Microsoft Access, and if your PC doesn't have Access on it, it is relatively inexpensive to buy a copy to add on. This is the 'low end' of database software. It is meant for small sites with only a few rows. Access lacks many of the automated utilities and integrity functions that larger database programs have. That all being said, Access is cheap - and it is fine for small systems. If all you want to do is maintain your 30 types of soap in an easy to use system, Access might be perfect for you.
In essence, on your home machine you work with Access to set up the tables and systems you want to use. Be sure to THOROUGLY read the Access manual and training material to do this properly. Once you are done creating and filling your tables, you now have a .MDB file on you hard drive. Let's say it is PRODUCTS.MDB
You would simply copy this file up onto your web server, and talk with your hosting provider about how to connect to the file from ASP. They will be able to give you the correct syntax to use. Voila! Your ASP can now read information from that database, update rows, and do other operations.
If you actually want to change the data structure, I highly recommend you download that MDB file to your own personal hard drive, work on the changes, and then load the fresh copy back on your web server. That is the safest way to make sure the changes are done properly. Also, I of course recommend backing up your file at least weekly, if not daily. You can write automated FTP scripts to drag the files down from your webserver onto your local hard drive to do this. I always recommend cutting your website to CD once a month, to keep a snapshot of what it looked like. Floppy disks are notorious for going bad. Magnetic tapes can do this as well. A CD is about the safest you can get in modern times, and at least that way if your site's machine crashes, you only lose up to 30 days of information.