This article answers some of the most common questions asked about databases. We explore what a database is and talk about why people use databases, when to use them and the difference between single and multi-file databases.
What is a database?
A database is essentially the solution to the management and manipulation of structured information. The phone book is the perfect example of ‘structured information’ as it is a table which contains a record for each subscriber. Each subscriber record contains three fields: name, address, and phone number. The records are sorted alphabetically by the name field, which is called the key field.
Other examples of databases include club membership lists, library catalogues, stock item inventories, animal breeding programmes. The list is endless.
Why a database?
The primary, and most obvious, purpose of creating and maintaining a database is to have a better filing management system.
The reason for this is so that all of the information that is inputted into the database is retrievable at any time that it is required.
Can you conceive of how complicated or time-consuming the task of data-retrieval must have been 100 years ago? Fortunately the progression of technology and software applications has occurred at such a rapid rate that we are now able to access vast stores of information at the click of a button.
Can I build a database?
Do not be intimidated by the idea of having to build a database, because with technological advancement it is not necessary to be highly skilled in database software to be able to create and maintain a database that will meet the specific requirements for which you need it.
With the construction of a database you have two options: build one from the ground up or make use of a pre-designed template.
The advantage of using a template is that your database can be up and running in a few minutes because the basic functions are already there, though this sort of database might require some refining so that the database meets your specifications 100%.
If you have more time and more skill than a first-time database creator you can create a database from scratch. In doing so the first and most important step is to assess the user’s needs: establishing what information the user wants the database to store and supply. While databases are relatively flexible, and can be adjusted as needs require, it is important to have a general goal to which to work towards.
Single or multi-file databases?
A database can contain a single table of information, such as a club membership list. Or it can contain multiple files of related information, as is the case with a company’s ordering system where there are numerous files to keep track of the order, the stock item, the supplier’s details, etc.
These tables can all be linked to each other so that you can easily produce reports or answer database related questions when required. A multi-file database of this nature is known as a relational database, and it is relational databases that provide exceptional power and flexibility in the storage and retrieval of information.
You certainly should consider enrolling for Microsoft Access training where you will gain invaluable knowledge and information to assist you in creating a database to suit your present and future requirements.