How to Fix ‘Access cannot open a database created with a previous version’ Error?

Summary: Are you having trouble opening a database (MDB) created with a previous Access version? Try the workaround discussed in this blog to resolve the issue. If the file is corrupted, you may use a professional Access repair tool to fix the corrupted file and retrieve its data.


How to Fix ‘Access cannot open a database created with a previous version’ Error?

When opening a database of an earlier version (.mdb format) in Microsoft Access version 2013 or later, you may encounter an error ‘Cannot open a database created with a previous version of your application.’

Cannot Open a Database Created With Previous Version Error

Workaround to Fix the ‘Cannot open a database created with a previous version’ Error

You can fix the error by converting the old database file format (.mdb) to the .accdb file format.

However, with the release of Access 2013, you cannot directly convert an .mdb file to the .accdb format. To work around this, Microsoft recommends opening the Access database (MDB) in Access 2007 or later versions, and then saving it in the file format you can open in Access version 2013 or higher.

The steps to convert the .mdb file to .accdb file format will vary depending on the Access version.

Steps to Convert Access 97 Database (MDB) to ACCDB Format

To convert an .mdb file of Access 97 database to .accdb file format, perform these steps:

  • In Access 2003, try opening your Access 97 database.
  • Go to the Tools menu, hover over Database Utilities. Next, choose Convert Database and then click Access 2002-2003 file format.
Access 97 MBD to Access 2002-2003 accdb
  • When prompted, enter the database name and then click Save.
  • Close your Access 2003 application.
  • Now open Access 2013/2016/2019. 
  • Go to the File menu, hover over Save As, choose Access Database (*.accdb), and hit the Save As button.
  • When the ‘Save As’ screen opens, choose Save.

The file will get saved in .accdb file format.

Steps to Convert Access 2000/2002/2003 Database (MDB) to ACCDB Format

For converting an Access 2000/2002/2003 (.mdb) file to the .accdb file format, do the following:

  • Open the MS Access application, click File > Open.
Open Access DB File
  • Select to open the Access 2000 or Access 2002 – 2003 database (.mdb) file you need to convert from the Open dialog box.
Save Access DB

Note: If you’re using a previous version of the Access 2000 database, a ‘Database Enhancement’ dialog box will open. To proceed, see the Steps to Convert Access 97 Database (MDB) to ACCDB Format.

  • Once the database file opens in MS Access, click File > Save & Publish. Next, click on the Save Database As option, select the Access Database option from the ‘Database File Types’ section. Click Save As.
Save Access DB File Type
  • In the ‘Save As’ window, specify the name of the database file in the File name box, and then hit the Save button.
Save as
  • Click OK when the message box “This Database has been upgraded to the Access 2007 File Format. The new database cannot be shared with users of Access 2003 or earlier versions” opens.
Access DB Upgraded Message

The database will get saved in Access 2007 database (.accdb) file format.

What If You Fail to Convert an Access Database (MDB) to the ACCDB File Format?

If you cannot convert the Access database .mdb file, it means that the file is corrupt. You can try to repair the database using the Access inbuilt ‘Compact and Utility’ feature. But if it does not work, use an Access repair tool to restore the database.

Stellar Repair for Access is a reliable tool that you can use to repair a corrupted MDB/ACCDB file. The software repairs the file and provides a preview of the recoverable file data. Once you’ve verified the data, you can save the repaired file. The detailed steps are as follows:

  • Launch the Access database repair tool from Stellar®.
  • A ‘Select Database’ window opens with options to browse or search the corrupt Access database file.
Software Main Interface
  • Select the file and then click Repair.
Select Corrupted Access DB
  • When the ‘Repairing Complete’ message box appears, click OK.
Access DB Repair Process Complete Message
  • Check the preview of the data you can extract from the repaired file.
Preview Recoverable Access DB Components
  • Once satisfied with the preview, select the Save Database option in the File section.
Save Database Option
  • When presented with a ‘Save At’ dialog box, click on the Default Location of File or Select New Folder option to choose the location of the repaired file.
Select Location to Save Repaired DB
  • Hit OK.

Navigate to the location where you have saved the file, open it, and access its data.

Conclusion

If you’ve encountered the Access error ‘Cannot open a database created with a previous version’, try the workaround discussed in this blog. If you fail to convert the .mdb file to the .accdb file format due to corruption, use Stellar Repair for Access software to fix the corrupted file and recover its data. The software can help recover macros, modules, forms, and other components from a corrupted Access database file.

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