Free Database Tutorials

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What is a database?

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What is a database?
A database is an organized collection of data.
It is stored electronically in a computer system and controlled by a database management system (DBMS).
The data and the DBMS and related applications are called a database system. Mostly we say ‘database’.

Organization of data
Data in most databases is stored in rows and columns of tables. A row is a record and a column is a field or header.
Such data organization makes processing and querying of data efficient.
We can now easily access, manage, modify, update, control and organize data. Most databases use structured query language (SQL) for writing and querying data.

What Is Structured Query Language (SQL)?
SQL is a programming language. We use in most relational databases to create, query and manipulate data.
Relational databases are organized as tables and this database technology provides an efficient and flexible way to access information from tables.

What is the Difference Between a Database and a Spreadsheet?
Spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel are great for a single user or small number of users. Databases allow multiple users to securely access and query data using complex logic and language.
Databases are designed to hold massive amounts of data. For example, Microsoft Access helps analyse large amounts of data and manage related data more efficiently than Microsoft Excel.

Types of Databases
Relational databases store data as tables with columns and rows. This database technology provides an efficient and flexible way to work with data.
Object-oriented databases (OODB) are databases that represent data in the form of objects and classes similar in principle to an object-oriented programming language.
A distributed database has two or more files located in different sites. The database may be stored on multiple computers, located in the same physical location, or scattered over different networks.
Data warehouses are a central repository for data specially designed for fast query and analysis.
A NoSQL database allows storage and manipulation of unstructured and semi-structured data. It’s also known as non-relational database.
A graph database stores data as entities called nodes (a person, place, thing, category or other piece of data) and the relationships between entities.
An OLTP (Online Transactional Processing) database is a speedy, analytic database designed for large numbers of transactions performed by multiple users.
An open source database has code that is open and free for download, modification and re-use.
A cloud database is a database service built and accessed through a cloud platform. Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data.
JSON database stores, retrieves and manages document-oriented information in JSON format rather than rows and columns. JavaScript Object Notation is an open standard file format, and data interchange format, that uses human-readable text to store and transmit data objects. They consist of attribute–value pairs and array data types.
Self-driving databases are cloud-based and use machine learning to automate database tuning, security, backups, updates, and other routine management tasks traditionally performed by database administrators.

What Is a Database Management System?
A database requires a database software program known as a database management system (DBMS) which acts as an interface between the database and its end users. This allows users to retrieve, update, manage and optimize the data.
Examples of popular DBMSs include MySQL, Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, FileMaker Pro and dBASE.

What is Microsoft access?
Microsoft Access is a database management system (DBMS) from Microsoft. It combines the relational Microsoft Jet Database Engine with a graphical user interface. It also provides software-development tools. It is more economical than other larger systems. A novice Access developer can create simple databases quickly. It can also import or link directly to data stored in other applications and databases like MS SQL, Oracle, MySQL, etc.

What Is a MySQL Database?
MySQL is an open source relational database management system based on SQL. It was designed and optimized for web applications. It can run on platforms like Linux & Windows. Web developers and web-based applications like to use it. eCommerce businesses use it manage multiple transactions.
Airbnb, Uber, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube make use of MySQL.

How Are Databases Used
Banks use databases to keep track of customer accounts, balances and deposits. Retail stores use databases to store prices, customer information, sales information and inventory.
Websites use them to store content, customer login information, etc.
Warehouses manage inventory levels and storage location using databases.
Large organizations collect huge amounts of data. Using databases and business intelligence tools, they can run their businesses more efficiently and take better decisions.

Database Challenges Today
Ensure Data Security: Data must be kept secure and at the same made available to users easily. Hackers are devising innovative ways to breach data security.
Managing and maintaining databases and infrastructure: As databases become more complex and data volumes grow exponentially, companies must hire qualified manpower to monitor and tune their databases.
Keeping up with demand: companies need real-time access to their data to take timely decisions and advantage of new opportunities.
Newer DBMSs are using cloud-based technology and machine learning to automate many of the routine tasks such as tuning, security, backups and updates.

Further reading: What is a database?