When selecting a database format, companies must first consider its purpose. The decision typically comes down to a combination of access requirements and preferences. There are two general types of databases to be considered which each has its pros and cons, in this post, we will explore their applications and factors to look at when deciding which to apply when faced with a project.
Flat File Databases resemble a spreadsheet on the computer, consisting of formats like single and multiple record types designed around a single table. This database design culminates all database information into one table with fields to represent each parameter. This method relies on a vast number of columns to provide all the necessary information, and there is no connection to other tables or records.
Relational Databases, on the other hand, stores data of different formats in multiple tables utilizing methods or linkages for the tables to work together. Most relational databases can be shared over the internet, across networks, electronic devices, and other software systems.
When selecting the ideal database for the project, its purpose must be considered first. If the purpose is to collect large quantities of data that fall under various groupings and categories, with the hopes of compiling the information, a flat-file database would not be the ideal choice. In a scenario such as those mentioned above, the relational database may be the way to go. Relational databases, however, will require a database server to store and interpret the metadata defining the content. Therefore, relational databases typically require an interpreter too to decipher the data. We may have all come into contact with a relational database at some point without even realizing it, take, for instance, a library. Libraries utilize catalog software to keep track of the vast numbers of books. When persons query the library database for a specific subject, the database searches not only that library but several others for records of books relating to that subject.
If the project is a quick analysis with five groupings or less, a flat-file database may save much time. They also have the added benefit of storing information, manipulating fields, exchanging information with others over the internet or through email and printing, or displaying formatted information. Some cons of utilizing this database are files are prone to issues such as data corruption, there is also no automation between flat files, and so they need to be manually modified and changing information in one file has no bearing on other files and so each file would need to be manually updated.
Flat files are most similar to files in a filing cabinet, in that, they are single records containing standalone data. Flat files are virtually free but are limited by manually processing or structured programs. Relational databases are a collection of tables linked by common pieces of data that can be arranged to highlight specific information to answer queries. The relational databases are often more complicated; however, they provide advanced capabilities and efficient access options. The database most appropriate depends mainly on the nature and purpose of the data, the budget, technical expertise, and access requirements.