DMW logo

Microsoft® Access 2002 Form Loses Subform During Design

Observations on the seemingly random loss of an Access database subform by its parent form.

Last updated on 2020-05-26 by David Wallis.

Background to the Problem

“When working in the design view of a form we added a subform and established the links between it and its parent. In form view the parent form failed to display the subform. On other occasions the parent duplicated one of its other subforms in place of the one we were having trouble establishing.

“We were developing the database in Access 2002. The main form had a number of sub forms but not so many as to approach Access limits. Nothing we included in the design of the main form or of the sub form was anything special or unusual for us.”

“Any ideas, David?”

Attempts to Find a Solution

These are the main routes I followed in attempting to achieve a stable form design:

I applied different sequences of the above over hours of testing.


I couldn’t believe this was a widespread problem because I hadn’t found links relating to it elsewhere on the web. But at the time I was anxious that I might meet it as a bug in other databases on which I was working.

During design work on another Access 2002 database I experienced the same problem. But there was no common pattern to the design processes between the two databases that I could identify to help explain the problem.

The process I applied to both recalcitrant databases to get them working properly was to create a new database. Into that I imported all objects other than the main form and its subforms, which I then created afresh.

Your Support for DMW TIPS

Please support this website by making a donation to help keep it free of advertising and to help towards cost of time spent adding new content.

To make a contribution by PayPal in GBP (£ sterling) —

To make a contribution by PayPal in USD ($ US) —

Thanks, in anticipation.


The progress of history has, thank goodness, come to my rescue. No longer do I receive requests to mend an Access 2002 database: requests now are for converting to Access 2013 or 2026.

“My software never has bugs. It just develops random features.”

Author unknown