Use ACE Drivers and PowerShell to Talk to Access and Excel

Summary: Quit using deprecated JET drivers to talk to Microsoft Access and Excel. Learn how to use Windows PowerShell and ACE Drivers.

Hey, Scripting Guy! Question  Hey, Scripting Guy! How do I get data out of Microsoft Access and Excel files and into SQL Server by using Windows PowerShell?


Hey, Scripting Guy! Answer Hello MC, Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson, is here. We are at the center of SQL Week in honor of SQLRally next week, and our guest blogger today is Chad Miller.

Chad Miller (Blog|Twitter) is a SQL Server DBA and the senior manager of database administration at Raymond James Financial. In his spare time, he is the project coordinator and developer of the CodePlex project SQL Server PowerShell Extensions (SQLPSX). Chad leads the Tampa Powershell User Group and is a frequent speaker at IT Camps, SQL Saturdays, and Code Camps.

Microsoft Access and Excel have been called the desktop database, and companies have a lot of data stored in them. It is inventible that you will need to load some of these files into a SQL Server database.

Note: There are a variety of tools provided by Microsoft to assist in migrating your data into a SQL Server database. In addition Windows Azure, Microsoft Access Services, and Microsoft Excel Services for SharePoint provide alternative solutions, which should be considered as possible strategies. Other solutions may be better suited than the Windows PowerShell scripts demonstrated in this blog post.


Connectivity to a data source is accomplished through ODBC drivers or OLE DB Providers. When we connect to a data source, we first need to determine which connectivity components to use. A Windows operating system includes the ODBC driver and OLE DB Providers for connecting to a variety of data sources, including SQL Server. However, newer Microsoft Office connectivity components are not included with the operating system. Instead, Microsoft Office connectivity components are installed with Microsoft Office or alternatively through something called the Access Control Entry (ACE) driver.

One of the cool things about ACE is first, its name. But more importantly, ACE is completely free, and it even includes a 64-bit version.

Important: ensure that you have the ACE driver/provider installed on your machine or else the Windows PowerShell scripts demonstrated in this post will not work! Before you proceed, go to Microsoft Access Database Engine 2010 Redistributable, and download AccessDatabaseEngine.exe or AccessDatabaseEngine_x64.exe, depending on your operating system. The ACE drivers are supported by Windows 7; Windows Server 2003 R2, 32-bit x86; Windows Server 2003 R2, x64 editions; Windows Server 2008 R2; Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2; Windows Vista with Service Pack 1; and Windows XP with Service Pack 3.

When you you have ACE drivers, there is no reason to use the old deprecated JET drivers—even for older versions of Microsoft Access and Excel. A common mistake I see, even with seasoned developers, is to drop to JET for .mdb and .xls files when you don’t need to. I have made this mistake myself past.

I found a helpful blog post on MSDN from the CSS SQL Server Engineers that talks about different data providers and discusses a migration strategy.

Installing the ACE Module

Having addressed the issue of connectivity, we can now look at a simple Windows PowerShell module that provides a function over the ACE driver, which I call ACE.

To install the ACE module, perform the following steps.

  1. Create a folder named ACE under Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules.
  2. Save the ACE script from the Scripting Guys Script Repository as ACE.psm1 in your Documents\WindowsPowerShell\Modules\ACE folder. This is shown in the following image.

Image of folder 

To use the module, you need to import the module into your current Windows PowerShell session. This is accomplished by running the following command.

Import-module ace

The ace module consists of one exported function called Get-ACEData. To see Help including examples of usage, run the following command.

Help Get-ACEData –full

Using the ACE Module

Now that the ACE module is installed and ready to use, let us look at couple of examples.

Getting Excel Data

I am going to use an Excel file called backup.xlsx as shown here.

Image of Excel file

First, let us list the worksheets that are part of the backup.xlsx spreadsheet.

PS C:\Users\u00\bin> Get-ACEData -FilePath .\backupset.xlsx -TableListOnly



TABLE_NAME    : Sheet1$





DATE_CREATED  : 4/19/2011 9:41:11 PM

DATE_MODIFIED : 4/19/2011 9:41:11 PM



TABLE_NAME    : Sheet2$





DATE_CREATED  : 4/19/2011 9:41:11 PM

DATE_MODIFIED : 4/19/2011 9:41:11 PM



TABLE_NAME    : Sheet3$

To shorten the output, I will pipe the results to Select-Object and specify the TABLE_NAME property only.

PS C:\Users\u00\bin> Get-ACEData -FilePath .\backupset.xlsx -TableListOnly | Select-Object TABLE_NAME






We can see that the three worksheets that make up the spreadsheet are returned. Next, let us return the data. To return all data from every worksheet, run the following command.

$ds= Get-ACEData -FilePath .\backupset.xlsx

If we look at the $ds variable through Get-Member, we see that the function returns the DataSet shown here.

Image of command output

This DataSet is made up of a collection of DataTables. To see how many DataTables, run the following command.



To see the DataTable names, run the following command.

$ds.Tables | Select TableName






If we want look at the data, we would run:


To see only the first DataTable, specify the collection index or the name of the DataTable, for example:

$ds.Tables[0] or $ds.Tables[“Sheet1$”]

If you want to return only the first and second worksheets, we can specify either the Table or the Query parameter as shown here.

$ds= Get-ACEData -FilePath .\backupset.xlsx -Table ‘Sheet1$’,’Sheet2$’

To restrict the rows that are returned from a worksheet, use the Query parameter as shown here.

$ds = Get-ACEData -FilePath .\backupset.xlsx -Query “Select * FROM [Sheet1$] WHERE [dbname] = ‘db1′”

The ACE driver supports .xls (Excel 2003) and . xlsx (Excel 2007 and higher) files.

Next, we will query a Microsoft Access file.

Getting Access Data

I am going to use the sample Northwind Microsoft Access database, which is available from File>>New>>Sample Templates as shown in the following image.

Image of template

Just as I did with the Excel file, we will get a list of tables. However, Microsoft Access has different table types, including views and system tables, which we’ll need to filter out and load into a variable as shown here.

$tables = Get-ACEData -FilePath .\Northwind.accdb -TableListOnly | where {$_.TABLE_TYPE -eq ‘TABLE’ } | Select -ExpandProperty TABLE_NAME



Employee Privileges


Inventory Transaction Types

Inventory Transactions


Order Details

Order Details Status


Orders Status

Orders Tax Status



Purchase Order Details

Purchase Order Status

Purchase Orders

Sales Reports




To load all of the regular tables contained in the Northwind Microsoft Access file, run the following command.

$ds = Get-ACEData -FilePath .\Northwind.accdb -Table $tables

To see the number of tables in the DataSet, run:



Like in the Excel example, we can specify queries by using the Query parameter or specific tables with the Table parameter. The ACE Driver supports .mdb (Access 2003) and .accdb (Access 2007 or higher) formats.

Importing Microsoft Office Data

At this point, we have retrieved data from Excel and Access files. Next we will look at loading this data into a SQL Server database. I am going to use the free, SQL Server Express version. If you do not have a SQL Server instance available, you can download and install SQL Server Express. I am also going create a database called hsgb in SQL Server Management Studio as shown in the following image.

Image of folder


In a previous Hey! Scripting Guy blog titled Use PowerShell to Collect Server Data and Write to SQL, I demonstrated three functions that I will use to load and query the data in SQL Server. Download each script from the following locations:

Next, source each function in Windows PowerShell as follows (note that this is dot space dot forward slash).

. ./Invoke-SqlCmd2

. ./Write-DataTable

. ./Add-SqlTable

Running Data Imports

We are ready to import our Excel and Access data.

To import our Excel data, run the following command.

$ds= Get-ACEData -FilePath .\backupset.xlsx -Table ‘Sheet1$’

Add-SqlTable -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -TableName $($ds.Tables[0].TableName) -DataTable $ds.Tables[0]

Write-DataTable -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -TableName $($ds.Tables[0].TableName) -Data $ds.Tables[0]

By running Invoke-SqlCmd2, we can see our newly inserted data as shown here.

Invoke-Sqlcmd2 -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -Query “select * from [sheet1$]” | Out-GridView

Image of command output

To import a group of Microsoft Access tables, run the following command.

$ds = Get-ACEData -FilePath .\Northwind.accdb -Table Customers,Suppliers

$ds.Tables | foreach {Add-SqlTable -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -TableName $($_.TableName) -DataTable $_ }

$ds.Tables | foreach {Write-DataTable -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -TableName $($_.TableName) -Data $_  }

By running Invoke-SqlCmd2, we can view the data in our new SQL Server tables as shown in the following examples.

Invoke-Sqlcmd2 -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -Query “select * from customers” | Out-GridView

Image of table

Invoke-Sqlcmd2 -ServerInstance “Z003\SQLEXPRESS” -Database hsgb -Query “select * from suppliers” | Out-GridView

Image of table

This blog demonstrated how to query and load the Microsoft Excel and Access files into a SQL Server table. The functions Get-ACEData, Invoke-SqlCmd2, Write-DataTable, and Add-SqlTable can be used to easily automate your Excel and Access data loads.

MC, that is all there is to using Windows PowerShell and ACE Drivers to get data out of Microsoft Access and Excel files and into SQL Server. SQL Week will continue tomorrow when guest blogger Michael Wells will talk about how to automatically create tempdb files in SQL Server.

Thank you, Chad, for an awesome blog post.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy 

Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous says:


    I haven't tested the ACE drivers with Office 2000, only 2003, 2007 and 2010. I'm not sure if they work against 2000 or not. If you do test with an Office 2000 XLS file, let us know your results.

    For loading data into Oracle, one possible solution is to convert the XLS file to CSV and then use Oracle's SQL Loader utility (or external tables). Here's an example of converting the XLS file to CSV using PowerShell:

    import-module ace

    $ds= Get-ACEData -FilePath .backupset.xls -Table 'Sheet1$'

    $ds.Tables[0] | Export-Csv ./backupset.csv -NoTypeInformation

  2. Anonymous says:


    Set is slightly more difficult. To update existing Excel spreadsheets and MS Access files, I treat them like databases and use ADO.NET. I did presentation about this for the South Florida IT Camp 2011. The slides and scripts demonstrate updating Access and Excel in PowerShell using the ACE driver and ADO.NET directly. You can download presentation/scripts here:…/south-florida-it-camp-presentation

  3. Klaus Schulte says:

    Hello Chad,

    GREAT! And just the stuff i would definitely use each day from my office!

    I'm SO sorry, that I can't test anything @work because we have STILL !!! Office 2000 !!!

    and Oracle (mostly).

    My co-workers still use a lot of Excel data. And some Access DBs, too.

    Strange enough most of the data lives in some Oracle DBs but of course never in the same

    kind of representation that they carry around, update, read, write and import/export on their own.

    So there is aways reason enough to be able to get the back into a DB, update other data sources and

    transfer them as newly exported excel sheets to other users. I get my daily Excel spreadsheet via email

    and not seldom, I have to get some data back into our DBs. The Powershell approach would be of great help

    in many occasions, if you don't want to end up in a "copy&paste editor orgy" to send a bunch of nearly

    handcrafted SQL commands to a DB server :-(((

    I hope, I can use it somehow even with the old office version and oracle …

    kind regards,

    Klaus (Schulte)

  4. AP says:

    any Set-ACEData command available with ACE?

  5. Dave Rugh says:

    I'm using the module to pull out a dataset from an XLS and finding that some cells from the source are inexplicably missing from the dataset.

    $ds= Get-ACEData -FilePath $FilePath


    In this case, column 13, 'Business Zip' is missing:

    …<F11>Business City</F11> <F12>Business State</F12> <F14>Business Country</F14>…

    Are there any tricks to debug this to figure out what's going on?


  6. Great article.
    Needed to start the x86 ISE to get things working on Windows 7 x64. Included that a check in my code.

    Also I added support for xlsm with the following line in the Get-ACEConnectionString function

    '.xlsm$' {"Provider=Microsoft.ACE.OLEDB.12.0;Data Source=`"$filepath`";Extended Properties=`"Excel 12.0 Macro;HDR=YES`";"}

  7. Marcel Bernards says:

    I ran into an issue sing text based ACE.OLEDB using a schema.ini and fixedwidth files.
    When I used a schema.ini entry:
    it did not work. I get a:

    Exception calling "Fill" with "1" argument(s): "Cannot update. Database or object is read-only

    when I changed the file extention in the schema.ini and the accompanied filename to

    it all starts working.

    Is suppose there is a (hidden?) requirement for file extentions in the ACE.OLEDB driver?

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