"Unexpected Error from External Database Driver (8961)" error message when you try to import dBASE files into Access

Moderate: Requires basic macro, coding, and interoperability skills.

This article applies only to a Microsoft Access database (.accdb and.mdb).


When you try to import dBASE files into Access, you may receive the following error message:
Unexpected error from external database driver (8961)


This behavior may occur if the Borland folder exists on your computer and either of the following conditions is true:
  • The Borland Database Engine (BDE) was previously installed on your computer but was later removed, leaving an empty folder.

  • The BDE was installed incorrectly.


To resolve this issue, you can either reinstall BDE or use the following steps to remove it:
  1. Start Windows Explorer, and then browse to the Borland folder.

    If you cannot locate the folder, follow these steps.
    NOTE: Because there are several versions of Microsoft Windows, the following steps may be different on your computer. If they are, see your product documentation to complete these steps.
    1. Click Start, and then click Search.
    2. Click All files and folders.
    3. In the All or part of the file name box, type Borland.
    4. In the Look in list, click My Computer.
    5. Click Search.
  2. Rename the Borland folder as
    BorlandOld. (For example, rename C:\Borland as
  3. Import the dBASE files again.

More Information

If you remove or rename the Borland folder, Access uses its own indexed sequential access method (ISAM) driver to import dBASE data.

The third-party products that are discussed in this article are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, regarding the performance or reliability of these products.


For additional information about how to use dBASE data with Access, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
307455 ACC2002: How to Control Whether Access Loads the Borland Data Engine (BDE)
230125 How to use dBASE data with Access 2000 and Jet

283294 ACC2002: Supported Data Sources for Importing, Exporting, and Linking in an Access 2002 Database

For more information about how to link a dBASE file to an Access database or how to import a dBASE file into an Access project, click Microsoft Access Help on the Help menu, type import a dBASE file in the Office Assistant or the Answer Wizard, and then click Search to view the topic.