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A memo field can store a huge quantity of information, allowing up to 65,536 characters, with different choices. In the most recent release of Microsoft access database, it can store up to 1 GB of characters and enables rich text formatting. However, it is often advised to avoid the use of memo fields for grouping in Access.
In the 2009 edition of Microsoft Access and including the recent version, there was a bug in which the memo field would show incorrect and erroneous characters under specific circumstances. If the user used the‘GROUP BY’ query on a memo field or if the query contains a JOIN on un-indexed records, the memo field would display incorrect results. Microsoft Access would just show random characters in place of the contents of the given memo field.
MS Access fundamentally truncates the memo and the most widely known factors that cause the truncation are aggregation, uniqueness, formatting, and union queries. For instance, a union query that joins the records from various tables and then de-duplicates them. It analyses the memo field which then results in truncation.
Why Memo Fields Are Inefficient
The main reason why Access does not allow more than 255 characters is that it would hamper the performance to a great extent, as string operations are disk and processor intensive. Some data sources process strings as bytes while some use Unicode so it becomes incompatible. Though it saves the data to the table, still it becomes inefficient in working with the extra data.
The characters may not be similar under various settings and the JET engine (Microsoft database engine) is rigidly case-sensitive.
For example, you have two tables — Table1 and Table2 with the first having two fields (Field A and Field B) and the second having only one. In Table1, let’s assume that Field A is a number (long integer) and Field B is a long text and both fields contain two records. Table2 has a long integer number field that also has two existing records. The two tables do not have an index.
The query will combine the two tables and the groups with the fields in Table1. But in due course, it will display a wrong result for Field B. That is the reason for avoiding the use of Memo fields when grouping.
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