A database is a structured format for organizing and maintaining information that can be easily retrieved.
Databases are commonly used by websites to maintain information about users, preferences, page content, and more. Many companies use databases to manage business data such as customer information, marketing data, and inventory. Databases allow users to maintain massive amounts of data and pull information out of it to see correlations or trends, or to create graphical presentations of the information, such as charts or graphs.
A simple example of a database is a table or a spreadsheet.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I manage my website’s database?
Most web hosts provide database management software for free via your control panel. The exact program will vary depending on the host, the operating system your server runs on, the type of database they provide, and your preference. Before you attempt to utilize the provided database management software, make sure you are comfortable manipulating the database yourself and understand how the software works. Making changes to your site’s database can impact the performance of your site or even the security of the information you’re storing. You should also check to see if you can accomplish the same tasks by using your site’s content management system, rather that working directly from the database.
What sort of information can I store in a database?
Databases can be used to store any type of information, but are most useful for data with similar variables. For instance, when maintaining a list of inventory items, while each item will be different, they will all contain consistent variables such as quantity, weight, price, and supplier. Using a database, you can store information regarding all of your inventory and then pull a list of products that meet specified criteria, such as those items that are running out (low quantity value) or are provided by a specific supplier. A database would be less effective for a list of unrelated items, since there would be no like variables to compare.
Are databases searchable?
Any database can be searched using the appropriate software. For instance, an Excel spreadsheet can be searched using Excel or some other spreadsheet software. The database that supports a website can be searched using the appropriate database manager provided by your web host. Online databases typically cannot be searched using a traditional search engines, such as Google. However, they can be searched using a database-specific search engine. For example, each airline manages a database of all its flights, times, dates, available seats, and pricing. To search those databases, you need to visit the airline’s website or use a special flight search tool. Similarly, many research databases require the use of a specific search system, often only available with a subscription or through your local library. For more information about searching databases, see Doing Research Online and Mining the Deep Web.