The trouble with managing data in Microsoft Excel

With the recent news of 16,000 coronavirus cases going unreported in England due to them being accidentally deleted within Excel, we sat down for a virtual chat with our Digital Applications Manager to discuss the benefits and pitfalls of using Excel in comparison to databases.

Excel relies on manual data input and analysis and so is open to human error. It is very easy when distracted or under time pressure to accidentally delete some of the data or mistype key information. This is essentially because Excel is not designed as a data management solution, which is what many people are using it for. It is not a database. Within our database Apollo KnowHow™, we have safeguards in place to ensure data isn’t deleted accidentally. This way mistakes can be caught much more easily, limiting impact.

Another issue with using Excel for storing data is that there is no audit trail. This means that Excel relies on human intervention to catch errors rather than them being alerted to errors – this can be a particular issue with multiple, concurrent users of data. A well-designed database logs all activity for review so you can see when data has been edited or deleted, what the data is, and which user edited or deleted it. This means it can be reinstated and the data is never truly lost.

Excel is often not hosted on a secure platform meaning there is not the same level of security safety permissions. Apollo KnowHow™ is securely hosted on Microsoft Azure meaning you can choose who can access what data and give permissions, this allows for further peace of mind.

Excel is a great tool for displaying some data (typically not business critical) and sorting through it, but it is not designed for storing and managing your data securely. If information has vanished in your organisation, you will know the damage and expense that this can cause to operations.

If you are still using Excel to manage data and you think you would benefit from storing your information in a more secure database, get a quick 15-minute demonstration by emailing