Fix MS Access Database Error 3049: Cannot Open Access Database

Summary: The blog outlines reasons that may result in ‘MS Access error 3049 – cannot open database’ issue. It also describes some manual methods to fix the error such as using the MS Access built-in compact and repair utility, and Windows built-in drive tool to repair the ACCDB or MDB database files. Plus, you can try recovery tricks like importing data into a new db or restoring a backup to salvage data from corrupt file. The article also discusses how Stellar Repair for Access software can help fix the issue when the manual methods fail.

Sometimes, when importing data, running an action query or adding new records in MS Access, you may encounter runtime error 3049 along with the following message:

Cannot open database. It may not be a database that your application recognizes, or the file may be corrupt’.

Can't open Access database error
Figure 1 – MS Access Cannot Open Access Database Error Message

In order to find the correct solution to fix ‘Access error 3049’, it is important to know the actual reasons behind it.

Reasons behind Access Database Error 3049

As you may know, Microsoft Access 2007 and higher versions by default create databases in ACCDB file format. MS Access 2003 and earlier versions create db in MDB file format. If you can’t open the ACCDB or MDB file, it’s very likely that the file has turned corrupt and results in Microsoft Access cannot open the database error.

Access database file corruption may occur due to the following reasons:

  • Access database size limit has reached or exceeded 2 GB.
  • Hardware or software inconsistencies and conflicts.
  • File damage due to storage of large volume data.
  • Unintentional deletion of data or storage media format.
  • When the structure or header of an ACCDB file is damaged.
  • Incompatibility of the file created in Access 2003 or earlier versions.
  • The database is restored from invalid backup.

How to fix Access Cannot Open Database Error 3049

Following are some methods to fix MS Access cannot open database error:

NOTE: Attempting to repair the corrupt Access database manually may cause further corruption, leading to permanent data loss. So, make sure to create a backup copy of the db, even if it is in a corrupt state before performing any manual method.

Method 1 – Run Access Compact and Repair Utility

If you are receiving the error message “Cannot open database.  It may not be a database that your application recognizes, or the file may be corrupt.”, check if the database has reached or exceeded the 2 GB limit. If so, running MS Access built-in ‘compact and repair’ utility may help.

To run ‘compact and repair’, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open MS Access application.                           

Step 2: In the window that pops-up, double-click Blank desktop database.

blank desktop database in access
Figure 2 – Blank desktop database

Step 3: Go to File, and then click Close.

Close access database
Figure 3 – Select Close

Step 4: In the window that appears, click Database Tools, and then choose Compact and Repair Database on Tools menu.

Figure 4 – Compact and Repair Database

Step 5: In Database to Compact From dialog box, find and select the database you want to compact and repair.

access database to compact from
Figure 5 – Database to Compact From Dialog Box

Open copy of the compacted and repaired database. The copy will be saved in the same location as your previously saved original database.

Also Read: Repair access database when compact and repair did not work

Method 2 – Import Everything into a New Database

Attempt to import and restore data from the corrupt db into a new Access database. To do so, follow these steps:

Step 1: Create a new database file, by clicking Blank desktop database (refer to Figure 2).

Step 2: Click the External Data tab, and select Access on Import & Link menu.

external data option in access database
Figure 6 – External Data Option

Step 3: In Get External Data – Access Database dialog box, browse the source (i.e. corrupt) db.

get external data - access database window
Figure 7 – Get External Data

Step 4: Click OK.

Step 5: In Import Objects dialog box, click the tab depending on the objects you want to restore. For instance, choose ‘Forms’ to import forms from the source db into the new one.

NOTE: Click the ‘Select All’ button if you wish to restore all the objects.

Figure 8 – Import Objects Window

Step 6: Click OK to finish importing the selected objects into the new database.

Method 3 – Use Windows Built-in Drive Tool

If you cannot compact and repair the Access database, or have failed to import data into a blank db, using Windows built-in drive tool may help. The tool can help repair corrupt database and deal with errors such as 3049.

Here’s how you can use the drive tool to repair corrupt database:

Step 1: Open File Explorer, and navigate to the following location:


Step 2: In the window that appears, search for odbcad32.exe file.

Step 3: Double-click odbcad32.

search and find odbcad32.exe file
Figure 9 – Select odbcad32

Step 4: The ODBC Data Source Administrator (32-bit) window is displayed. From DSN, select MS Access Database under Name, and then click Add.

odbc data source administrator dialog box
Figure 10 – ODBC Data Source Administrator (32-bit) Window

Step 5: In Create New Data Source window, select ’Driver do Microsoft Access (*mdb), and then click Finish.

Figure 11 – Create New Data Source

Step 6: In ODBC Microsoft Access Setup dialog box, click Repair.

NOTE: Click ‘Select’ under Database to choose the type of database (.mdb or .accdb) file you want to repair.

Figure 12 – ODBC Microsoft Access Setup Dialog Box

Step 7: From the Repair Database window, select the drive followed by the folder in which the corrupt MDB file is stored. Click OK.

Figure 13 – Repair Database Window

Step 8: If repair is successful, you will receive a message saying the database was successfully repaired.

access database repaired message
Figure 14 – Database Successfully Repaired Message

Step 9: Click OK and check if you can open the db.

Method 4 – Convert Access MDB File to ACCDB

NOTE: This method only applies to users using Access database in MDB file format.

Access offers a manual procedure that can help export data from MDB file format to ACCDB format, in order to view the incorporated content. To get started, it is imperative to close all programs and files associated with MS Access.

Perform the following steps to convert MDF file to ACCDB file format:

Figure 15 – Convert MDB File to ACCDB File

Step 1: Open MS Access, click the File tab, and then click Open.

Open File in MS Access
Figure 16 – Access Database Open Window

Step 2: In the Open dialog box that appears, open the Access MDB file that needs to be converted to the ACCDB file format.

Browse Files
Figure 17 – Open Dialog Box

Step 3: Under the Database File Types, click Access Database (*.accdb).

Database Types
Figure 18 – Save Database As Option

Step 4: Click Save & Publish.

If any of the Access database objects are open at this stage, the application will prompt to close them first and then proceed. Click ‘Yes’ to instruct the application to close the object or alternatively click ‘No’ if you want to cancel the entire conversion process. Access will then prompt to save the changes being made recently (if any).

Step 5: Next, provide a name to the converted file in the File name field, and then click Save.

A copy of the database will be created and opened by the application. The original database will be automatically closed by MS Access.

Also read: How to Backup and Restore Access Database?

What If Nothing Works?

If none of the above method helps fix Access database error 3049, you can try restoring the last known good backup copy of the db.

In case nothing works and backup is also not available, use Stellar Repair for Access software to resolve the issue. The Access repair software helps repair and recover Access database (ACCDB and MDB) files. It also helps retrieve all deleted, formatted, or lost data from the database file.

Here’s a video to help you understand how Stellar Repair for Access software can be used to repair corrupt database files.

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