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5 Interesting Facts about Database Management Systems

A database management system (DBMS) is system software that lets you create and manage databases. By integrating a database management system into your workplace, users and programmers will have a strategic way to create, retrieve, update and manage data. Before you make the decision of which DBMS is right for your business, here are five interesting facts to consider.

1. Database management systems have three important roles.

When you use a DBMS, you can expect three important things to be managed: your data, the database engine and the database schema. By managing these three elements, your databases will be more secure and consistent. This allows multiple users to access the data and make smart business decisions.

2. Database management systems come in various types.

Database management systems are available in many different types. Here are three of the most common:

  • Relational databases. With relational databases, the relationship between data is relational and stored in columns and rows. Each column represents an attribute, each row represents a record and each field represents a data value.
  • Hierarchical databases. In this model, data is stored in a tree-like model where each field contains one value, and the records are linked to each other based on parent-child relationships.
  • Network databases. This model uses a network structure to create relationships. It looks similar to a cobweb or interconnected network. Used mostly on large digital computers, network databases allow the records to have relationships with multiple entities.

3. One of the biggest advantages to a DBMS is security.

There are many benefits to having a DBMS, but one of the most important is the security it provides to your business or organization. Using a database management system lets end users and programmers access the same data without compromising its integrity. Data is better controlled and protected, and you can even keep track of logging and auditing activity.

4. A database management system requires more overhead.

Although there are many excellent reasons for having a DBMS, you must be prepared for the additional overhead it will require. In order for this software to work, you need more memory and CPU. This can vary widely depending on the type of database management system you want. Some models need more resources to run than others.

5. There is no one-size-fits-all database management solution.

When researching your options for a DBMS, keep your mind open. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so you’ll need to consider the needs of your business and the resources you have. Once you narrow down your options, you can take advantage of the free trials that many DBMS companies offer. This will give you a firsthand look at what it’s like to use the program.

Arkware is your expert for database programming, development and support. Contact us today for your free consultation and let’s discuss your needs for a new database programming system.

How to See the Biggest Return from Your Microsoft Access Database

A lot of businesses use Microsoft Excel to manage their data, but they don’t know what they are missing by not upgrading to a database! Spreadsheets may look similar to databases, but a spreadsheet is not nearly as powerful as one. Plus, getting information in and out of a spreadsheet is often tedious and cumbersome. A lot of manual data entry is required, and this raises the risk for errors.

If you are looking to upgrade from Microsoft Excel to Microsoft Access, you’re making a great choice that will allow your business to be more secure and efficient. Below we share a few tips on how to see the biggest return from your Access database.

MS Access is user friendly. You can use it without having to learn a programming language.

Microsoft Access is available with your Office subscription, and you don’t need to learn a programming language to use it. Access is considered a non-technical database application that is user-friendly for the average person. In fact, you can use it to create apps without needing a background in coding.

We recommend diving into Access and testing out the features to get you familiar with the differences between a database and a spreadsheet. But, don’t spend time trying to learn a new programming language. This is not necessary to use the basic functions of Microsoft Access.

Use only the number of tables that your application requires.

There is no “right” number of tables that you need in your application. Use the appropriate amount – no more, no less. Beginner database users have a tendency to use too few tables and end up trying to cram too much information into a single place. On the other hand, some users create dozens of databases, when they really only need a few.

Avoid repeating and redundant data.

Another thing you’ll want to avoid is repeating data in a single table. Relational database design handles repeating data by breaking it out into a separate table. So, if you find yourself numbering field names like Item 1, Item 2, Item 3, etc., create a separate table to store the data.

The same is the case with redundant data – avoid it! Redundant data doesn’t need to be in your database, and it can actually corrupt your data. For example, if you have a customer’s name stored in two tables and only update one of the tables, the data is no longer reliable.

Use a naming convention to avoid confusion.

When you pick a naming convention for your database objects, you should stick with it to avoid confusion. This way, all database tables, columns, constraints and other objects will be named in a consistent and reliable manner. The good news is that you can choose any naming convention you want (within reason) – the key is to be consistent.

Use nulls only when you need to.

Nulls are often overused. The true purpose of using null is when a field of information is truly unknown. This is different from a field that needs to be left blank. As an example, when filling out the Address 1 and Address 2 lines on a table, the Address 2 line is usually left blank. But, “blank” is a known value, so you don’t need to put null.

Consult with a Microsoft Access consulting expert.

Lastly, make sure that you have a Microsoft technology expert to consult with. As your business grows and changes, your database needs might as well. It’s important that your database is always working for you and providing you with secure, consistent data. By partnering with a team of database experts, you can get the most value from your database.

Arkware provides Microsoft Access support and replacement services for businesses of all sizes. Schedule your free consultation to discuss your database needs.

Relational vs Non-Relational Databases: What’s the Difference?

In the world of databases, there are two main types: SQL and NoSQL – or relational and non-relational – databases. There are clear differences between them, including how they are built, the type of information they store and how they store it. By understanding what SQL and NoSQL databases are and the distinctions between them, you can make the best choice for your business or organization.

Let’s learn more about relational and non-relational databases, how they differ and how to choose the right one for your operational needs.

What is a Relational Database?

Relational databases are structured. They contain two or more tables with columns and rows. Each row is an entry, and each column sorts a specific type of information, such as a name or address. In order for relational databases to be effective, the data needs to be stored in a structured manner. Some of the most popular SQL databases include Microsoft Access, MySQL and Oracle.

Businesses and organizations rely on relational databases for the following reasons:

  • Data can be organized in a simple manner
  • Information can be easily retrieved using queries
  • Structured format leads to reliable, accurate data  
  • Highly scalable to accommodate growing businesses
  • Database can be normalized for consistency

What is a Non-Relational Database?

Non-relational databases are far more flexible than relational databases because they contain unstructured data. You can think of them as being large file folders that contain all types of information, such as photos and online activity. There is organization to these databases in the form of storing information in documents. The difference is that these documents are not categorized into fields.

A major benefit to NoSQL databases is that they offer a greater ease of access. Users can execute queries without having to learn the basics of SQL. Non-relational databases are also intuitive, fast and efficient. They are ideal for large businesses and organizations that hold a lot of data. If the database needs to be scaled, it can do so without much headache. Popular non-relational databases include Oracle NoSQL, MongoDB and HBase.

What Database is Right for Your Business?

The best way to know what type of database is right for your business or organization is by speaking with a database management company such as Arkware. Start by defining your strategy, the types of data you’re looking to store and the analytics you plan on running. Unless you are a large business with lots of big data to make sense of, a relational database like Microsoft Access should be sufficient for your needs.

For your free consultation, contact Arkware today.

 

What Does it Mean to “Normalize” a Database?

Normalization is the process of organizing data in your database into tables and columns. The idea behind normalization is that a table should be about a specific topic, and the columns should support that topic. When you limit a table to a single purpose, it prevents duplicate data from showing up in your database.

Let’s learn more about the reasons for database normalization and why it’s important for your data quality and accuracy.

Overview of Database Tables

A database consists of one or more tables. Each table is made up of rows and columns, with data being entered into the columns. The data has to be specific, such as a number or date. Each row is identified by a primary key.

The idea of database normalization is that each table is limited to one purpose, thus avoiding duplicate and redundant data. When you need to generate reports or compare numbers, you can refer to the specific tables you need and that’s it. You don’t have to worry about related numbers trickling in from other tables.

Reasons for Database Normalization

There are three main reasons to normalize your database:

  • Avoid duplicate data. If you have duplicate data in your database, it becomes tedious and time-consuming to manage data changes. Redundant data also increases storage and decreases database performance. To fix this, database normalization is used.
  • Fix anomalies. When a database is normalized, anomalies are corrected. Anomalies can occur when data is accidentally inserted, deleted or left blank.
  • Simplify search queries. Database normalization makes it easier to search and sort your data. Once a database is normalized and anomalies are corrected, you can perform simpler queries.

Types of Database Normalization

There are three types of database normalization:

  • First normal form. Information is stored in a relational table. Each column has atomic values, and there are no repeating groups.
  • Second normal form. This table is in first normal form and all columns depend on the table’s primary key.
  • Third normal form. This table is in second normal form with columns that are non-transitively dependent on the primary key.

Databases are an asset to today’s organizations, but they can also come with a major learning curve. Before you invest time and money into learning a database, make sure that you are using the proper database solution. For a review of your organization’s current database, contact Arkware today.

 

How to Improve Database Accuracy

Data is one of the most important parts of your business. In order to have reliable data, you must maintain a high level of data accuracy. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it may sound. With so much data coming in, it’s up to data entry specialists to perform their jobs quickly and diligently. One mistake can cause all of the data to be wrong.

Fortunately, businesses of all sizes rely on databases to keep their data safe and secure. However, the information going into the database needs to be correct. Below we share the most effective ways that you can improve database accuracy within your organization.

Identify Correct Data Sources

To improve the quality of incoming data, your business should identify where the data is coming from. All sources – internal and external – should be reliable. Otherwise, you could have incorrect data entering your database and skewing all of your numbers. Some of the most common places where data comes from are:

  • Government organizations
  • Research institutions
  • Other businesses
  • Self-reported data

Set Realistic Data Quality Goals

To keep improving data quality, it’s important to set realistic data quality goals. Management should understand where potential problems exist and how to resolve them. Generally speaking, data quality issues revolve around data capturing, data entry and effective coding. Management can then pass these goals down to their data entry specialists who can work on improving the issues.

Avoid Overloading Data Entry Specialists

For those who enter data into spreadsheets and databases, it’s easy to get fatigued. When a person isn’t sharp, it’s easier to make mistakes. This is why it’s important not to overload data entry specialists. These employees need time to be efficient and accurate. If there is a lot of data that needs to be entered, the work can split up among employees, or it can be spanned over the course of several weeks.

Double Check the Data Being Entered

Reviewing data is a smart practice that allows for mistakes to be caught. How does your business currently check for the data accuracy? Consider ways to streamline the process, such as by hiring a team of quality assurance professionals who can review your database. You can also use automated software tools that will generate error reports.

Maintain a Positive Work Environment

A healthy work environment results in more productivity and less errors. Maintain a positive work environment that includes regular break times, stress-relieving activities and manageable workloads. Data entry specialists have high expectations, and working under pressure doesn’t benefit this industry. This is when mistakes are made.

If you’re still having trouble with data quality, it may be your database solution and not your data entry specialists. Contact Arkware today to learn more about upgrading your database to something new.

 

Why it’s Important to Limit User Access in Your Database

All relational databases include some type of security measures to protect the database from unauthorized users. These security measures range from simple password protection to assigned user roles. As a database administrator, limiting access to certain users is one of the most effective ways to secure your database.

In this post, we’re going to explain the importance of creating user accounts for each person who will be accessing your database and assigning the appropriate roles for each one. Because each database management system is different, it’s best to consult with a database support company like Arkware for the right procedure.

Create Separate User Accounts

It’s highly recommended to set up an account for each person who will be accessing your database. Even though there is a way to share accounts between users, it’s not the best idea because you can’t be sure who is using the account and when. Personal reliability is important when using a database, so you want to be able to trace activity back to individual users.

Another reason not to share accounts is because if you want to remove access from a particular person, you’ll have to change the password for everyone. Because people come and go from organizations on a regular basis, it’s easier to give each user their own account. If someone leaves your company, you can simply deactivate access to that user.

Assign Roles to Users

If you have a work environment with a small number of database users, it should be easy to create user accounts and assign them permissions on your own. But, if you have a large number of users, this will probably be more difficult. Not only do you have to create the accounts but also manage them.

To help with this, relational databases usually support the notion of roles. Instead of assigning roles to each individual account, user accounts are automatically assigned to roles, and permissions are assigned to these roles as a whole.

Grant and Revoke Permissions

Once your accounts have been created and roles assigned, you can strengthen security by adding permissions. Not all users need the same permissions. Give users the least amount of permissions they need to do their jobs. If someone leaves your organization, or you want to revoke their permissions, you can do this on an individual basis without disrupting any of your other users.

To make your database more secure by limiting user access, reference your database management documentation or consult a database development and support company like Arkware. Schedule your free consultation today at 877-519-4537.