Using Spreadsheet & Database Programs
Nell Heard called to say she had created a directory of retired parishioners for her church, using the MSWorks spreadsheet program. However, the new computer she bought came with Excel (the MSOffice spreadsheet program) and Nell asked how to copy her MSWorks data into the program.
Well, there are two issues here; getting files from an old computer to a new one, and then making a particular program's data compatible with another program.
My favorite way to migrate files is to copy them onto a USB-connected external hard drive, then re-connect the drive to a USB port in the new PC, followed by dragging and dropping them onto the new PC's hard drive.
If you have only a few files to move, using a USB "flash-memory drive" (a.k.a. "thumb drive" or "stick drive") may be easier than using a full-fledged external hard drive.
Yet another file-transfer method is to send the data from one PC to another as email attachments.
As for compatibility issues between different programs, I've put a
www.pcdon.com that discuss specific versions of several popular programs.
Compatibility between Spreadsheet Programs
As for compatibility between one spreadsheet program and another, you can usually copy a worksheet by going to Edit>Select All and Edit>Copy. Then create a blank spreadsheet in the other program (be it Excel, Corel Quattro, or OpenOffice Calc), click into the A1 cell and do Edit>Paste. All the cells will be filled in as they were on the previous program. In Nell's case, her spreadsheet file was relatively simple with no mathematical calculations involved — so copying and pasting it into a competitive program would be effortless.
Having said this, however, it's important to understand that Excel is a much heavier-duty program than the MSWorks spreadsheet. Thus large Excel files with complex mathematical data may not copy properly into the MSWorks spreadsheet program.
Huge Musical Database Has Run Out of Space
Another reader used the MSWorks Database program to create a file with information on his vast music collection. However, when the list of songs reached 320,000 rows (records) he got a message saying he had reached the the MSWorks Database capacity limits. So he asked if I knew a way of increasing the limits. I asked him to send me a copy of the file.
Again, I copied his MSWorks Database file and pasted it into a blank Excel spreadsheet. Excel, technically, is NOT a database program, but it works very well with this simple (albeit very large) database file — and Excel has a virtually unlimited number of rows and columns available. Adding more data will be no problem.
Differences between a Spreadsheet and a Database
To better understand all the above, it's helpful to have a basic concept of spreadsheet and database programs in general.
Spreadsheets are useful in doing complex math calculations and estimating answers to "what if" questions. Arriving at the bottom line on a Profit & Loss statement is a typical example. Programs like Quicken and TurboTax are basically spreadsheet programs on steroids.
Databases are used mainly to cross-reference and compare various types of data. The examples above are considered — flat — databases. A "relational" database, such as can be built with Microsoft Access, is more sophisticated and often used to organize lists of, say, every nut, bolt, and washer in the manufacture of an automobile, along with all the other parts.
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