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Moving and backing up your Access 2013 web apps

This post was written by Bob Piper, a Program Manager on the Access team.

When files live on your computer’s hard drive, there’s a risk that they could be damaged, lost, corrupted, or deleted. To protect against this, most savvy businesses make copies of important files in separate locations. In a similar way, Microsoft takes many precautions to make sure your Access 2013 web apps on Office 365 are backed up and always available. However, making your own backups is still a good idea. How can you make a copy of your apps that can be restored to a different location?

Access 2013 web apps, just like all SharePoint apps, can be stored in a special type of file known as an App Package. You can create backup copies of your databases in App Package files and restore them by uploading them to any SharePoint 2013 site. Knowing how to do this would also be useful if you wanted to move an app from one Office 365 account to another.

Saving your App

When you visit your Access app in the browser, you will see a gear icon in the upper-right corner of the screen.  Clicking this gear allows you to open the app in the Access 2013 client.  In the client you will be able to customize the app, or, in this case, save it as a package.

With the app open in the client, simply click on “File” in the upper left corner, and choose “Save as”.  Then click “Save as Package”. 

You will be asked to name the app package, and you can decide whether to include data. If you uncheck this box, the resulting app will contain all the views, tables, macros, and queries in your app, but none of the records that are personal to your business. This could be useful if you wanted to share the design of your app with another person without exposing your business’ data.

After you click OK, you can decide where to save the app.  A moment later, your app will be saved to that location.

Uploading your app to another SharePoint Site on Office 365

Now that the App Package file is saved to your machine, you can load it onto any SharePoint Online site. To do this you will be using the “App Catalog.” The App Catalog is a place that stores the apps that are available for someone to add to a SharePoint site. In order to make apps available on the catalogue, you’ll need to have Owner or Administrator permission for the site.

In the version of SharePoint included in Office 365 Small Business Preview, you’ll need to go to a special URL to access the catalogue. To find this location, go to any page on your site. You’ll notice that the URL in your browser will look something like this:

https://mycompany.sharepoint.com/_layouts/15/start.aspx#/SitePages/Home.aspx

Just remove the portion after “…sharepoint.com”, and replace it with “/sites/AppCatalog” so it looks like this:

https://mycompany.sharepoint.com/sites/AppCatalog

Then click “Apps for SharePoint” in the menu on the left:

On the Apps for SharePoint page, click Add new item, and upload your app using the dialog.  When complete, you’ll see the app in the list:

Your app is now available to add to your site. Go to the “Site Contents” page from the menu on the left. From there, when you click “Add an App”…

…you will see the app under “Apps you can add”:

Just click the app and then click Trust It:

You’ll be taken back to the Site Contents page, the app will load, and you are all set to begin using your app on the account.

Now that you know how to package your app and restore it on any site, you’ll be able to make backups of your Access 2013 web apps and the data inside. This will enable you to keep snapshots of your app at any given time. You’ll also be able to move the apps that you design using one account to any other account.

Try it out for yourself using the Office 365 preview. In order to try out Access 2013 web apps, be sure to choose one of the plans for business: Small Business Premium or Enterprise.

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4 comments
  1. seems like the web app doesn’t work well on mobile device, will there be a mobile friendly web app possible in the future?

  2. Leon,
    In what way did the web app not work well on a mobile device? I’ve used it on a tablet and that was OK.

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