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Understanding the ACID Model for Database Management

The ACID model is one of the oldest database theory concepts. It includes four goals that every database management system must try to achieve: atomicity, consistency, isolation and durability. If the database does not meet these four goals, it is not considered reliable. Databases that do meet these four goals are considered to be reliable and ACID compliant.

Let’s learn more about each component in the ACID model and the strategies used to support it.

Defining the ACID Model

Here are more specifics on the characteristics of the ACID model.

  • Atomicity. Transactions are made up of multiple statements. Atomicity ensures that each transaction is treated as a single unit that either succeeds or fails. So, if any of the statements within a transaction fail, the whole transaction fails and the database is left unchanged.
  • Consistency. Consistency ensures that only valid data is included in the database. If a transaction violates the database’s consistency rules, it will be stopped and the database will be unchanged. This prevents illegal transactions from taking place.
  • Isolation. Isolation means that multiple transactions happening at the same time will not impact each other. Isolation supports concurrency control and prevents transactions from interfering with each other.
  • Durability. Once a transaction is complete, it will remain that way, even if there is a system failure. Durability is ensured through database backups, transaction logs and other security measures.

Putting the ACID Model into Practice

The ACID model can be executed using several different strategies. For atomicity and durability, database administrators may use write-ahead logging (WAL) that places all transaction data in a special log. If the database were to fail, the administrator could check the log and compare its content to what’s in the database.

Another strategy is shadow-paging, which is where a shadow page is created with content that can be modified. Updates are added to the shadow page instead of the actual database, and the database is only updated when the edit has been completed.

The two-phase commit protocol is another strategy, ideal for distributed database systems. When data is modified, it’s split into two requests: a commit-request phase and a commit phase. In the commit-request phase, all databases affected by the transaction must confirm that they have received the request and are able to perform it. When confirmation has been received, the commit phase completes the data.

The ACID model can be difficult to understand at first, but Arkware is here to do the heavy lifting for you! Give us a call and we’ll find the best database solution for your needs.

 

Database Tips for Beginners

Any data organized in a specific format can be considered a database. There are endless applications for databases depending on what they are being used for and what type of information is being retrieved. If you’re new to the database world, we have a list of things to know before jumping in. The more time you take to understand how databases work, the more productive you can be with them.

SQL is at the Core of Relational Databases

Structured Query Language (SQL) is at the core of all relational databases, including Oracle, SQL Server and Microsoft Access. If you want to be proficient in your database, you’ll have to learn SQL. Fortunately, there are many ways to learn the language, such as with online classes, tutorials, books and videos. Learning SQL will provide you with a firm foundation for using relational databases.

Choose Your Primary Keys Wisely

Primary keys deserve attention. It’s important that your primary keys are unique. Anything that might share the same value for an attribute is not a good choice for a primary key. You’ll also need to think twice about using sensitive values in your databases (i.e., Social Security numbers and email addresses). Use your database management system to generate a unique identifier.

Know that Null is not Zero

Many people think that null is zero, but it’s not. Instead, it means “unknown.” Nulls cannot be compared to any values, so they are not included in reports. So, if you have 300 customers in your database and 30 have nulls in the Email Address column, the report will generate a result of 270.

Convert Spreadsheets to Databases

If you have data stored in Microsoft Excel, as many people do when they upgrade to Microsoft Access, save yourself time and convert your spreadsheets into databases. This can be done fairly easily by creating a database, importing the spreadsheet and choosing a primary key. You can learn more about converting your Excel spreadsheets to databases here.

Database Platforms are Different

There are many different databases out there, and no two are the same. Some large corporations and warehouses need enterprise-size databases with all the bells and whistles. However, most businesses can benefit from a simpler, more cost-effective program like Microsoft Access. It’s effective at keeping track of expenses, inventory, sales, etc. and supports multiple users. Plus, it has a familiar look and feel so there’s not much of a learning curve.

Are you considering upgrading from spreadsheets to a database? Contact Arkware for a free consultation and learn which database is right for your business.

 

How Property Managers Can Improve Efficiency with a Database

If you are a property manager, you know how difficult it can be to keep track of your properties. From leasing to maintenance to income, there is a lot to maintain!

To help run their real estate businesses, property managers use databases. But, not all database programs are created equally. Some software is expensive and doesn’t let you customize the program. Other software comes with a learning curve, which means you’ll have to take time out to learn the database.

If your current system is not working for you, consider setting up a database through Microsoft Access. It’s cost-effective, streamlined and powerful. Plus, there are templates designed specifically for real estate professionals.

What are the Benefits of Using MS Access for Property Management?

Microsoft Access is a simple and straightforward database that doesn’t overcomplicate anything. We recommend it to property managers because of the templates available and the ability to track tenants, prices, maintenance and more. Let’s take a more detailed look at the benefits to using Access to manage your rental properties.

  • Efficient leasing terms. When you’re renting out multiple properties, it’s hard to keep track of everyone’s leases. What if someone walks into your office and asks about future rentals? A database allows you to rent out your properties efficiently, serving more customers and reducing vacancies.
  • Updated financials. Need a better handle on your financials? A database will help. Keep track of who has paid their rent and who still needs to. Issue extensions or late payments as needed and stay on top of your financials. The last thing you want is a deficit.
  • Streamlined maintenance. A tenant called with a leaky faucet. Another said their AC wasn’t turning on. To keep track of maintenance requests, use a database. This way, you can send the proper tools, equipment and staff to the right properties to make repairs quickly and accurately. This also keeps tenants satisfied!
  • Accessible contact info. Keep your tenants’ account information front and center. This makes it easy to contact them in a pinch and know who you are speaking to.

Using Microsoft Access to Manage Properties

Whether you lease out a few properties or hundreds, Microsoft Access can help. There are templates available for property managers, so find one that is customized to your needs. When you find a template you like, download it and start updating and organizing your information. Communication and collaboration will be improved, allowing you to run a more efficient property management business.

Your software should be working for you, not the other way around. If you are interested in learning more about MS Access and how it can work for your property management business, contact Arkware today.

 

7 Strategies to Get the Most from Your Meetings

If you had to guess, how much time do you think you spend in meetings each week? According to this article, middle management spends an average of 35% of their time in meetings, while upper management spends as much as 50% in meetings. The worst is when you spend all this time in discussions and they prove to be ineffective. Meetings are here to stay, but there are ways to make this time more productive.

Here at Arkware, we spend a lot of time in meetings with clients and each other. It’s important that we offer the best database solutions and meeting together is one of the ways we achieve this. Here are the strategies we use to keep our meetings most productive.

1. Know When to Host a Meeting

Before calling a meeting, we make sure that it’s the best way to solve a challenge or address a concern. If an email or memo will get everyone on the same page, then we will send this instead. We want our meetings to be a valuable use of everyone’s time.

2. Schedule Meetings at the Right Time

We schedule meetings at times when people are less likely to be distracted. Friday afternoons – definitely not a good time to hold a meeting. Research shows that meetings held during lunchtime when people are hungry and distracted are also less productive, so we avoid these times as well. The best times to hold meetings are between 9-11am or 2-4pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

3. Invite the Right People

Not everyone needs to be at most meetings. Only invite staff who will benefit from the discussion, such as those who have something to contribute or will be affected by the topic of conversation. Everyone else can use this time to work with clients and complete other tasks.

4. Create an Agenda

Before the meeting, create an agenda and timeline. Share it with the people coming to the meeting so they know what to expect. Having an agenda allows everyone to follow along and stay on topic. If the topic does go sideways, don’t be afraid to jump in and bring the conversation back.

5. Choose a Comfortable Location

We’ve noticed that a comfortable location helps people stay focused in meetings. Choose a bright, well-lit space with comfortable seating so that people aren’t uncomfortable for the next half hour. It’s also a great idea to have a whiteboard or projector screen for everyone to look at during the meeting.

6. Keep Meetings Short

It’s better to have several short meetings than one long meeting. People get bored and distracted when sitting in the same seat too long. Plus, this cuts into the time they could be doing other tasks. Keep meetings to around 30 minutes, if you can.

7. Avoid Lecturing

Remember that you are holding a meeting, not a lecture. So, avoid lecturing and boring your audience. A meeting is a time for everyone to talk, exchange ideas, voice their concerns and more. Leave time for everyone to contribute, which is why it’s important to choose who you’re inviting carefully.

If your business requires meetings, there are ways to make them more productive for you and your employees. By following the strategies above, you can make this time valuable for everyone in the office!

 

How the Healthcare Industry Uses Databases

Microsoft Access comes in handy for many industries, including healthcare. In fact, healthcare is one of the top industries that relies on databases to identify patients, manage lab results and track billing and payments. The amount of healthcare data continues to grow, and databases offer a reasonable solution to keep track of it. Once information is entered into the database, the documents can be shredded, helping medical offices stay in compliance with the latest HIPAA laws.

Ways Databases are Used in Medical Facilities

There are dozens of uses for databases in the medical field. Microsoft Access is able to handle most of them with no flaws. By entering data into an Access database, it’s collected in an analytic format. This way, medical professionals can better understand the data and offer patients better, more efficient care.

Let’s look at some of the ways that the healthcare industry uses databases.

  • Lab systems
  • Financial systems
  • Patient satisfaction systems
  • Patient identification
  • Billing and payment processing
  • Practice management system
  • Ambulatory surgery
  • Claims database
  • HR system

What Challenges Do Databases Solve for Medical Offices?

Databases solve a number of challenges for healthcare facilities. Specifically:

  • Data quality. It’s hard to make sense of overwhelming information. With a database, data can be entered into the system and organized in a way that’s practical and sensible. When you need quick, reliable information, it can be searched for, compared, analyzed and more.
  • Collaboration. Databases make it possible to collaborate with others. Multiple users can look at the same database and exchange ideas, address an account, etc. However, not all users need to have the same access. For example, multiple users can be on the same sheet but only one will have authorization to make edits.
  • Security. Data security is a major concern for healthcare facilities. Having a reliable, secure database is an effective way to keep information safe. Paper documents can then be shredded, keeping in compliance with HIPAA laws.

Healthcare organizations have endless ways to benefit from using a database. To learn more about databases and how they can benefit your medical office, call Arkware today. We’re happy to help and find the best solution for you.