At first glance, a database looks almost like a spreadsheet. It has arranged columns and rows and holds data just as a spreadsheet does. However, things get a lot different from this point forward. Databases are far more powerful than spreadsheets, allowing you to do a lot more with them. This is why businesses and organizations large and small use databases to efficiently run their operations.
Below are three important things to know about databases.
1. Databases are relational and can cross-reference records in different tables.
Most databases are relational, which means you can create relationships between tables to compare and contrast data. For example, if you linked a Customers table with an Orders table, you could bring up the entire order history for a specific customer. You could also refine this data based on a certain time period or purchase total.
Additionally, databases have broad search functionality that allows businesses to pull up all information in a matter of seconds. This helps people make smart business decisions. Databases are also capable of updating records in bulk so that users don’t have to go through and update everything manually. In the end, databases are incredible tools that offer far more functionality than traditional spreadsheets.
2. Databases have a structure that is made up of columns and rows.
Databases contain tables and rows, and all data is separated by categories to avoid duplication. For instance, a retail business might have a database that contains a Customers table, an Orders table and a Products table.
Within each table, the rows are called records and the cells are called fields. Each field holds a specific type of data, such as a number or date that is formatted consistently. This allows users to pull up accurate, consistent information.
Furthermore, the tables are linked through a key, which is an ID that identifies each row. There is a primary key for each table, and any table that needs to link to that table will have a foreign key. You can read more about choosing a good primary key in an earlier post.
3. Microsoft Access is one of the most popular database programs.
Microsoft Access remains one of the most popular and reliable database programs on the market. It’s affordable, easy to implement and can be scaled to accommodate growing businesses. If your business needs something more powerful than Access, you may want to upgrade to a server database that uses SQL, such as MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle.
No matter what your database needs are, Arkware can help. We get businesses set up with databases like Microsoft Access as well as upgrade them to server databases. Using the right database ensures efficient, productive operations and the ability to make smart business decisions. Contact us today for your free consultation.