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How to Fix Microsoft Access Unrecognized Database Format Errors

Microsoft Access users often encounter the "Database Format Unrecognized" error. This error can occur for several reasons. Let's review the causes of the “database format not recognized” error and the plausible solutions.

Cause 1: Insufficient permissions to access the database

Upgrading Windows Server, e.g. from Windows 2003 to Windows 2008 R2, involves a series of steps, namely removing the old property and permission, saving all files on an external hard drive, creating new owners, assigning permissions to new owners, providing full access, and more.

However, even after carefully following these steps, only the domain administrator is allowed to open the Microsoft Access database. But when the other users try to open the Access DB file on the same server, they get an error message - "Database format not recognized, database is damaged or in an inconsistent state".


  • If the domain administrator can open the Access database on the server with full access rights, the problem is with the permissions for the domain or the folder in which the Access database is located. Granting full permissions to all users on the network share can help resolve the “Database format not recognized, the database is corrupted or in an inconsistent state”.
  • If the problem is still not resolved, assign Local Admin rights to all users on this server.
  • Finally, check the custom permissions on the database showing the "Database format not recognized" error.

As a primary check, the domain administrator should ensure the following regarding the users accessing the Access database:

  1. The users are logged on to the domain in which the Access database is located.
  2. The users have local and custom administrator rights to access the database, as required.

Cause 2: Using Access 2016 together with Visual Studio 2012

A similar error can appear when a user tries to access the Microsoft Access 2016 database while working with Visual Studio 2012. The sequence of events includes:

  1. The user selects the source type Database and the database model Dataset.
  2. The software asks which database connection should be used to establish the connection to the database. When the user clicks on “New User” and selects the Microsoft Access database file (in this case OLE DB).
  3. The application then confirms the type of database connection to be used when the user says: “New connection”.
  4. The user clicks on “New Connection” and chooses the file name - Microsoft Access Database File (OLE DB).
  5. When the file name is displayed, the user selects an appropriate file - “xyz.accdb”.
  6. The user verifies the connection by clicking Test Connection which results in an unrecognized database format error: Unrecognized database format ’C: …… \ xyz.accdb.

In this case, the problem is likely due to the difference caused by the line provider or the Microsoft Ace OLE DB version on the line provider. Therefore, installing the updated version in Server Explorer can help to resolve the problem, as in this case Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.4.0 is updated to Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0.


The error can be corrected by upgrading the Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.4.0 application to Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0. To perform the update, connect the Access 2016 using the following steps:

  • Add a new data source and click Database followed by Dataset.
  • Go to New Connection and click Microsoft Access Database File.
  • Select ACCDB file
  • Click Advanced to change the name of the provider.
  • Click OK to add connection windows and test and verify connection.

You should have Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0 and not Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0 (as the earlier version cannot recognize a database in ACCDB format).

Cause 3: Different versions of the database opened and abruptly closed.

  1. Saving and opening the Access DB file with a different version can lead to incompatibility in the MS Access database due to version conflicts.
  2. Suddenly closing a database file or database system while the database is in the process of completing a backend operation can result in a Microsoft Access Unrecognized Database Format Error. Forcibly closing the Access file or the system that the file is being logged on will result in incomplete search resolution, resulting in Access database corruption and error situation.
  3. Similarly, closing the system without completing the “Save the Access File” process can also lead to inconsistencies in the Access database and display the following error message: “Database format not recognized, the database is damaged or in an inconsistent state”. Abrupt closing of Microsoft Access is more common when the database is stored on a common network. Multiple users can try to access the database at the same time, and changes made by one of the users may not be saved due to an abrupt file closure, which can lead to Access database corruption.
  4. The user was using the Microsoft Access database and tried to enter some values ​​using a form but was unable to enter the values ​​using this form due to an error. The error message is as follows: “Unrecognized database format S: \ folder name \ sub folder name \ xyz.accdb”.

Solution 3

Inaccessible Access database can lead to corruption, which can be fixed with the help of the following measures:

Use the Microsoft recommended auto repair option or the Compact and Database Repair utility:

  • Start Microsoft Access and go to the Database Tools.
  • Select the “Compact and Repair Database” database utility option.
  • A new window is opening up. Select the database file that shows the error code.
  • Click compakt to start the Access database repair process.

Note: Make a backup of the Access database before starting the repair. The reason for this is:

  • The Compact and Repair program may not repair all damaged units. During the repair, Access may truncate some data that it may be able to restore from the backup.
  • Does not repair interface objects such as forms or reports. If the backup copy is not available, the user may lose data that is available in forms and reports.

restrictions of the compact and repair program:

  • Repairs non-badly damaged and large databases.
  • The drive must have enough space to store the compressed and original databases.
  • Not all components of the database can be repaired.

Repair Access DB with the help of Stellar Repair for Access software.

Stellar Repair for Access helps to fix corruption errors in Access files like "Microsoft Access Undetected Error in Database Format".

  • Open the software and click Browseto select the corrupted Access database file. Alternatively, you can also click Search Click to check for a corrupted Access database between the drive, folder or subfolder.
  • Click the Scan for Deleted Records option to capture the deleted records and save the repaired database.
  • Select Repair to initiate the repair process. Once the software has completed the database repair process, it will generate a log report of the fixed components and display the message “Repairing of selected database completed”.
  • Click Ok and the software will preview the tables.
  • Check the components of a repaired database and click Save to start the database save process.
  • Click Browse to specify the location of the repaired database.

The tool repairs severely damaged large Access database and restores all database components as well.


“Microsoft Access Unrecognized Database Format Error” may occur while upgrading the system or when a user tries to access the Microsoft Access database file through another application such as Visual Studio. The error can also be caused by Access database corruption which can be caused by abrupt or improper shutdown.

In the case of various plausible causes of errors, it is necessary to find the exact cause and correct it with the help of the correct solution.

All causes and their solutions are explained above. It is important to keep in mind that the Compact and Repair method may not be effective with large and badly damaged database files. In such cases, specialized Access database repair software might be a more effective choice.

The software based solution method also helps in recovering the deleted records from Microsoft Access database.

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