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What is a Database?

Think of a “data+base” or a database as a place where you can put data or information of different types for as long as you want.

For example, a database can store a customer’s details like name, birthday, address, order details, family details, occupation details, preferences, and much more. All of this data can be collected from various sources and put together in one place, and stored under a common name (such as customer_details).

Formally, a database is an organized collection of structured or unstructured information stored electronically on a machine locally or in the cloud. Databases are managed using a Database Management System (DBMS). The DBMS acts as an interface between the end user (or an application) and the database. Databases use a query language for storing or retrieving data.

Through this article, we will learn about the following:

What is a database used for?

Databases are used for various data processing operations, the most basic being the Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) operations.

Applications use databases via programming language code to store or get the necessary data. For example, when you create an online profile on a social media platform, the data you provide is stored in a database for future use.

Some typical uses of a database are:

  • Storing and retrieving different types of data.
  • Performing aggregation, sorting, filtering, and other preprocessing operations for data analytics.
  • Safely storing and persisting information for future use.
  • Providing reliable and secure access to data.
  • Defining the correlation between all the stored data.

Types of databases

For a long time, relational databases were the most common type of databases. However, as unstructured data continues to grow, storing and retrieving data using a traditional database has become difficult. This gave rise to non-relational databases like document databases, graph databases, and others. Some popular types of databases are:

Database examples

Examples of databases include MongoDB, Oracle, MS SQL Server, MySQL, Cassandra, and CouchDB. While MongoDB and CouchDB are document databases and Cassandra is a columnar database, the other database examples are relational databases.

Check out some database examples for different use cases.

Advantages of database systems

The most important advantages of DBMS are security, faster data access, data independence, and data integrity.

Data integrity

At any point in time, database systems ensure maximum consistency by providing provisions for regular archiving, backups, data audits, input validations, removing redundancies, and so on.

Faster access

By using database hosting, query optimization, indexing, and other performance optimization techniques, database systems ensure that users can retrieve and store data efficiently.

Data security

Database systems ensure data security and privacy by providing authentication and access control measures.

Backup and recovery

DBMSs can be configured to take care of periodic backup and recovery in case of a failure.

Data independence

Data independence helps in abstracting data representation details from application programs. Schema changes at one level do not impact the data at another level. For example, end-users and applications need not know the internal data storage structure and are not affected by internal schema changes. A DBMS achieves data independence at different levels: view, physical, and logical.

Common database challenges and how to overcome them

Although data integrity and security are key benefits of a good database system, these are also challenges that need constant attention because of the high volume and availability of data over the internet. However, thanks to modern databases, these challenges can be easily overcome.

Data security

Hackers are always on the move and security measures need to be upgraded every now and then. A good database should follow security best practices and provide end-to-end data protection.

Scaling

Your application data will increase as your user base increases. The database system should be able to handle the increase in data. This is achieved by database scaling. Scaling is complex, especially because the number of users can keep going up. Modern databases provide horizontal as well as vertical scaling capabilities.

Performance

When you test your application with 1000 users, the performance you get might not be the same as for a million or more concurrent users. Performance is a challenge that needs to be constantly worked upon by techniques like scaling, indexing, query optimization, and following best practices.

Resource utilization

Efficient utilization of resources like CPU, disk, or memory is essential for proportionate usage. Sometimes, one of these resources may be overused, and others may be underutilized. A good database server provides tools to measure and profile the workload and performance at different usage points to utilize the available resources effectively.

Conclusion

Through this article, we defined a database, explored types of databases, and shared how database management systems provide better data management. Modern databases like MongoDB can handle growing volumes of data and do much more than just storing and retrieving data. If you haven’t tried MongoDB yet, sign up for free today.

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Databases

Transactional Databases

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IOT databases

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Key Value Database

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Non-Relational Database

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FAQs

What are some examples of databases?

Some examples of databases are MongoDB, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, CouchDB, PostgreSQL, and Cassandra.

What is a database explain?

The database “explain” is a keyword that gives information about the statistics and execution plan of the given query. Explain results describe what processes take place, and in which order, during the execution of a query. This helps in analyzing the query performance and optimizing the query if needed.

What is a database and what is it used for?

A database is a structure that stores information of different types. For example, a database can store details about employees of an organization, students of a college, bank customers, and so on. A database is used to store and retrieve data as and when required by an application, and perform various operations on the data stored.

What is a database and its features?

A database is defined as an organized structure where information of different types can be stored. Databases make data storage and retrieval faster and more efficient. Modern databases like NoSQL databases can do much more than just store data. Some salient features of a database include:

  • Security, integrity, and privacy.
  • Persistent storage.
  • Minimal duplication or redundancy.
  • Efficient management of data.
  • Data independence.

What is the importance of databases?

Databases make data storage and retrieval more efficient and easy. Even with millions of concurrent users, database systems provide high performance and data security along with many other benefits. With the growth of unstructured data, databases have further gained importance because of their ability to search for the required data in a few seconds or less.

How is a database created?

There are many ways to create a MongoDB database. You can use the MongoDB shell, Compass GUI, or MongoDB Atlas UI to create a new database.

What are the types of databases?

There are many types of databases like non-relational, document, relational, and key-value. View the complete list of types of databases.

What is a database and its advantages?

A database is a structure where information of different types obtained from different sources can be stored for future retrieval. Databases offer many advantages like high data availability, data security, and consistency.

What is a database used for?

Databases are used to perform operations on data, like insert (Create), Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD). Further, databases can perform various sorting and filtering operations to organize data for easy retrieval and viewing.