I've had several folks write and ask me what program I use to keep track of my cards. The short answer is a program called The CardCollector 7.0 (found here).
I have gone through several different methods of keeping track of my collection. I "grew up" using Microsoft Access for any database that I had to program myself. So, once I decided to move from paper to computer, I created my own very rudimentary database. The problem was that I wanted a pre-populated database. That is, I wanted something that someone else had already loaded up with cards, manufacturers, etc, so that I could just look up cards and add my quantity to the program.
That is when I discovered a program called WinCards (from the now defunct www.wincards.net). WinCards was an Access-based program that came pre-loaded with a lot of cards. It was not perfect (as I have found that no one program will ever be), but it let me put in my cards and it let me add sets for cards that were not already in there. I did not care for the reports it generated, and from what I remember, I could not easily create custom reports. The other problem I had was support. The guy who wrote it did it as secondary to his main job (which I can understand), but the updates and fixes were slow in coming. The program was supposed to be updated monthly, and for a while it was. Eventually, it was bought out by another company, but soon even they couldn't keep it going. The Access-based application was showing its age - database size limitations, the Access 2.0 backend would conflict with newer versions of Access, demand for updates, delays in updates, etc.
I tried Beckett's online inventory thing, but that is way too cumbersome for me. I need to be able to input cards quickly, and web-based interfaces just are not as fast/friendly as I need. So, that got scrapped pretty quickly.
After that, I looked online for free card collecting software (hey, I'm cheap!). There are a lot of programs out there. None of the free ones I found come pre-loaded. For me, that was a big deal. For you, it might not be. Frankly, I didn't want to have to take the time to create sets, add cards, etc. So, free was out for me.
After giving up on those programs, I really didn't do much at all as far as electronic record-keeping goes. I decided that I wanted to wait until I found a program that met my criteria: Updated regularly, allowed for custom reports, allowed for custom sets, easy to use, came with players assigned to their pictured team, allowed for import and export of information in comma separated files so that I could manipulate the data myself if needed, and whatever other features I thought were cool.
I have not found that program yet, but CardCollector was close enough for me. It has all the features I want except the export/import from fully comma-separated files. Evidently, that is not a big deal to most collectors. I can live with that. CardCollector comes with a TON of cards pre-loaded, is updated monthly, lets me add my own card sets for those that have not been added already, allows me to create custom reports (though sometimes that is a bit frustrating), and allows for rapid entry of large inventory. It does let you export to a comma-separated file, but it is not very user-friendly (that is, I can't take it into Access or SQLExpress and manipulate the data very easily). Before you run out and buy the program, let me say that once I started entering my own custom sets, I haven't bought an update yet. I am going to buy the current update so that I can see if it hoses my collection (that is, if it wigs out when it finds a collection I have added that it then tries to add). I'll let you know how that goes. Also, before you try to run any reports, be sure you click the "Save Changes" button. I spent hours entering data without leaving the program and without saving (I didn't know it did not auto-save), and when I tried to run a report, I chose something that caused the program to crash and I lost all the entries I had done up to that point. UGH!
I think the two main features that I use regularly are the ability to only display cards from a given set by team and the use of the keyboard shortcuts. By limiting the view to, say, Topps, baseball, 2005, Chrome, Indians, I can easily use the keyboard to add cards and move to the next player. In this example, I would hit the "+" key to add a card, then hit "PgDn" to move to the next card in line. This is great for going through a stack of Topps Chrome cards from 2006.
The downside to this program (to me) is that I have not found a way to bulk-enter cards by player. So if someone sends me a stack of Sabathia cards, I have to sort them by manufacturer, then by year, then by "model" (Chrome, etc) before I can put them in the database. Not too bad for, say, 20 cards. But, not too fun for, say, 150 cards of the same player. UGH.
When I first started putting my cards into the computer, I had about 4500 Indians cards and about 2500 non-Indians cards. It seemed like a daunting task, but I eventually just sat down and started putting the cards in. I'll warn you now: when you first start out, it may seem overwhelming. But, take it in steps, and before long, you'll find that your collection is in the computer. Now, when I get cards, I place them in a "To Be Recorded" box. When the box gets full, I sort the cards and then enter them into the computer. Once a card is entered, it goes into a "To Be Filed" box that has has dividers with the years marked on them (I used the dividers like the ones you can get from BCW). After I enter all the cards, I simply pull the cards from their year's section and put them in my binders. Because I collect Indians cards, it is easier for me to organize them by year. My Non-Tribe cards are organized by player's last name, so the "To Be Filed" box for Non-Indians have dividers with the beginning letter of the last name. I'm not saying this is the way everyone should do things, it's just the way I do it. If it helps, then feel free to steal the idea! :-)
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I figured I would share my ups and downs in the hopes that it helps someone else. :-)