Reasons to use a Database
There are several reasons that you might find a database may be a useful software application. Any time you need to store large volumes of information, and sort and search through this information a database can increase your productivity and save you time. Database use is not limited to businesses and commercial organizations. In fact, you probably have several hobbies and items around your house that could benefit from organization in a database.
Databases can be used to keep track of everything from physical products, product loans and collectibles all the way to human resources, students, research notes, stock portfolios and digital assets.
History of Databases
Databases predate computers. Before a computer was used to manage information, there were several techniques to keep track of assets like card files and printed books. If you are older, you may remember that libraries used a “card catalog” system, where physical cards were used to track the location of an item in a library, using a Dewey Decimal classification system. Computerized databases use the same sorts of techniques to organization and classify information. But instead of storing data on physical media, information is stored digitally in a computer’s memory or long-term storage.
Why Use a Database to Capture Data?
Databases can store huge volumes of information efficiently. Using a well-designed database application, you can easily add, remove and modify information. You can also search, sort and report on information with minimal effort.
And using techniques like Change Data Capture (CDC) you can easily identify information that has changed, and take appropriate action. For example, in an inventory system you can capture when inventory has been used, and you need to reorder an item to maintain inventory stock levels. Without a database you may need to manually detect these types of changes, which could be very time consuming and prone to errors.
Advantages of using a Database
Using a database application can give you many concrete advantages. You can organize information to reduce data redundancy, making things easier to manage. You can easily find information through a variety of search techniques and query languages. You can reduce storage costs by keeping everything in one place. You can store sensitive information in one place, to protect your privacy and the privacy of others. You can keep track of what you have, to avoid duplicate and unneeded purchases, saving you money. And at any time, you can view a snapshot of your inventory, giving you a solid understanding of your assets and resources.
Why Use a Database Instead of Microsoft Excel?
Many people manage their data using spreadsheet type programs like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. However, if you have a large set of data you may run into limitations using a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets have much greater size limitations then database applications. It’s also harder to find information in a spreadsheet, due to limited query options. This also makes it more difficult to generate reports based on textual spreadsheet data. And if you need to keep track of images and photographs, a list display in a spreadsheet is probably not an ideal display or storage mechanism.
Databases and spreadsheets may share certain similarities. For example, a relational database still stores data in tables. However, the advantage of a relational database is it can also define relationships between the tables, that can be used to assist with searching and querying. Spreadsheets do not offer this sophisticated relationship-based functionality.
And since spreadsheets to not have an understanding of data relationships, you may need to add duplicate lines of information, effecting future data integrity if something changes. For example, if you are storing a record album in a spreadsheet, you may need to add the artist’s name beside the album name. But if you make a mistake in entering the artist’s name, you will need to correct the mistake everywhere the artist appears. In a properly designed database, you will just point the album to an artist name in a different table. If you make a mistake entering the artist’s name you just need to fix the artist’s name entry in the appropriate table, and the change will be valid throughout the database.
Why use a database instead of flat-files?
If you are keeping track of a number of items you may wonder if you need a database. Instead, you may consider creating a word document for each item and simply saving this document to a directory on your computer. However, this approach has numerous disadvantages. First when you are searching for information, you may need to physically open each file and parse it to find what you are looking for. Second, if you want to create a summary report consisting of information from several items, you will need to open each file individually, extract the information you need, and copy it into a new summary document. This process is time consuming, and results in data duplication. By using a database, you can automatically generate the needed report (often just in a few mouse clicks and keystrokes) without duplicating any data.
Databases can also be structured to include things like indexes that can speed data retrieval. Think of an index as an entry in an old-style phone book. In a phone book you can quickly find what you are looking for, since entries are sorted alphabetically. Similarly, a database index stores information in a logical expected order, so it can be quickly and efficiently retrieved.
No Coding Databases
Do you think you could benefit from a database application, but you don’t have the skills, financial resources or expertise to create one on your own? Then consider a prebuilt application like Tracker Ten.
Tracker Ten Database Desktop Application Free Download
If you are looking for a database that is already setup to your particular application, please have a look at our Tracker Ten software catalog. There is a good chance we already have an application that is suitable for your home or business needs. We offer free trial downloads for all of our applications so you can try before you buy! And if you still can’t find what you are looking for, please contact us for custom options!