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An Overview of Different Database Types

Database Types Feature

There are many different types of databases, each with its own advantages and use cases. Databases are an essential tool for storing, managing, and retrieving data. They are an efficient way to store and organize data so that it can be accessed quickly and easily.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the different types of databases and when they are best used. We will also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each type of database, so readers can make an informed decision on which type to use for their needs.

Different types of databases

Database systems are organized into different types, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. The most common types of databases include:

  • Relational databases
  • NoSQL database
  • Object-oriented databases
  • Graph databases
  • Cloud databases

Relational databases

A relational database is a type of database that stores and organizes data in the form of related tables. In general, they are easy to use and they were the first database systems to be widely used. Tables are linked together using relationships, which are established based on data common to each of the tables.

A relational database management system (RDBMS) such as Microsoft Access allows users to define the structure of their data, add new data, update and delete existing data, and query the data stored in the database. 

Relational databases are well suited for applications that require data to be related to one another, as the relationships between data items can be easily maintained and queried. For example, this includes customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and inventory management systems.

Examples of relational databases include Oracle Database, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, IBM DB2, Microsoft Access, and PostgreSQL.

Structured Query Language (SQL)

A database query language (DQL) is a programming language used to create and modify database tables. The most common DQL is Structured Query Language (SQL).

SQL is a language widely used for managing and querying relational databases. Because it is a standardized language, SQL can be used across a variety of database types, making it easy to switch between relational database systems.

If you’re looking to build your skills in SQL, here is our list of free sample databases for you to practice and interact with real-world databases.

Non-relational databases

Despite the popularity of relational databases, they have several drawbacks that have led to the development of other database types. The most noteworthy disadvantage is that relational databases are structured around tables

A non-relational database, also known as a NoSQL database, is a type of database that does not use the traditional table-based relational database structure. Instead, data is organized in collections and uses documents, graphs, and key-value models to store data.

Non-relational databases provide flexibility and scalability, allowing businesses to quickly adapt to changing data needs. They are also highly resilient and can handle large amounts of data with ease. As a result, non-relational databases are ideal for modern applications which require dynamic and real-time data processing.

Examples of non-relational databases include MongoDB, Apache Cassandra, and HBase.

Object-oriented databases

An object-oriented database (OODB) is a type of database management system (DBMS) that is based on the object-oriented programming (OOP) paradigm.

In an OODB, data is represented in the form of objects, which are organized into classes and subclasses. These objects can be used to store and retrieve data from the database, as well as to manipulate it in whatever way necessary.

Unlike a traditional relational database, an OODB does not require the use of SQL or any other query language. Instead, objects can be retrieved and manipulated directly from the database using methods such as inheritance, polymorphism, and encapsulation.

In addition, OODBs offer a number of advantages over traditional relational databases, including better scalability, performance, and flexibility. For example, an OODB can handle large amounts of data more efficiently than a relational database, and it can also provide access to multiple views of the same data.

Examples of object-oriented databases include MongoDB Realm, db4o, Smalltalk, and Cache.

Graph databases

A graph database is a type of database that utilizes graph structures, such as nodes, edges, and properties, to store and retrieve information. Graph databases are designed to represent the relationships between data, making them particularly well-suited for applications that require complex data queries, such as social networks and recommendation engines.

A graph database stores data in the form of nodes and edges, which represent the relationships between data points. Nodes are used to store data, such as user profiles or product categories, while edges are used to store the relationships between nodes, such as friendships or associations.

These relationships are not necessarily linear or hierarchical; instead, they can be any combination of connected nodes. Graph databases allow for flexible data modeling and powerful query capabilities, allowing users to quickly identify patterns and trends in their data. This makes them ideal for applications that require complex data analysis.

Examples of graph databases include NebulaGraph, IBM DB2 Graph, Neo4j, and Tiger Graph.

Cloud databases

Cloud databases are hosted by a third party. This third party manages the database and is responsible for its uptime and maintenance.  Cloud databases are most useful for apps that need to store large amounts of data but don’t require the control that comes with other types of databases.

Cloud Database

Cloud databases are common in web applications because they are highly scalable. This means that they can expand to meet increased demand and contract during slow periods to save money. 

While cloud databases are scalable, they offer less control over the database than other types of databases. This makes cloud databases best for applications that have a low demand for storage, allowing the users to pay as they go.

Examples of cloud databases include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud.

Database management systems

A database management system (DBMS) is software that manages and interacts with a database. This includes creating and managing tables, connecting to external databases, generating reports, and more.

While the database itself holds the data, the DBMS manages the database. Different types of databases usually come with their own DBMS. This means that it is possible to store data in multiple types of databases at the same time. 

Database administrators can set up a DBMS that can connect to multiple databases and act as a mediator between them. This allows users to use multiple types of databases for different purposes, taking advantage of the benefits of each.

Benefits and drawbacks of different types of databases

While each type of database has its own advantages and disadvantages, relational databases are still the most popular type. They are easy to use and understand and offer high flexibility and scalability.

However, they are less efficient when managing unstructured data, such as images or videos, since they are based on relationships between tables.

Because table-based and object-oriented databases are more efficient at managing unstructured data, they are sometimes referred to as NoSQL databases. However, these database types are less flexible than relational databases, making them less scalable.

Database TypeAdvantages
Relational DatabasesEasy to use, security, accuracy, consistency, data integration
NoSQL DatabasesHandle large volumes of data, developer-friendly, and store unstructured/structured data.
Object-oriented databasesData retrieval, scalability, performance, flexibility, and custom data types.
Graph databasesPowerful query capabilities, faster and flexible model.
Cloud databasesScalability, reduced administrative responsibilities, and security.

Database Types

A database is an essential tool for storing, managing, and retrieving data. There are many different types of databases, each with its own advantages and use cases.

Today, we’ve discussed relational databases, NoSQL databases, object-oriented databases, graph databases, and cloud databases. This is essential to learn as an entry-level database administrator.

We also provided an overview of the advantages of the different types of databases and when each is best used for improved data management and retrieval.

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