ODBC: frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about ODBC.

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What is ODBC?

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is a technology that programs use to access a wide range of databases (or data sources). For example, ODBC can be used to import data from a MySQL database into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. To do this, your computer needs the correct ODBC driver and data source.

For custom programs, software developers use the ODBC Applications Programming Interface (API) to access data sources. ODBC is an implementation of ISO/IEC 9075-3 Information Technology—Database languages—SQL—Part 3: Call Level Interface (SQL/CLI).

How do I add a data source to my computer?

Follow these steps:

  1. Open ODBC data source administrator by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Additional Options, and then clicking Data Sources (ODBC). Administrator permission required If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. Click Add, choose the appropriate driver for the data source you're adding, and then click Finish.

  3. In the Data Source Name box, type a name for the data source (for example, you could type MySQL). You can also type a description to help you remember why you are using this data source.

  4. If you want, click Options to change data source specific settings. Click OK when done.


  • While you can choose some driver names from the list, you might have to install the driver separately to be able to create a data source.

Where can I find an ODBC driver?

Database programs often come with their own drivers, and many ODBC drivers are available in the list of drivers in the ODBC Data Source Administrator. You can also try searching the Internet or you can contact the manufacturer of the database program that you want to use.

How do I set up an ODBC connection?

In the database program you are using, follow the steps for importing data. Database programs vary widely, so refer to the Help documentation for each program to find detailed instructions about importing data.

How do I enable ODBC connection pooling?

Connection pooling gives an ODBC application the ability to reuse an existing connection from a pool, so that the application doesn't have to go through the complete connection process for any subsequent connection. For information about enabling connection pooling, go to How to Enable Connection Pooling in an ODBC Application on the Microsoft website.