Not yet registered? Create a OverBlog!

Create my blog

What are the differences between Flat files and databases?

Data storage is an intrinsic part of the internet but how is that data stored? What is a flat file? How does a flat file compare to a database? Indeed, what options are there when it comes to data storage and what are the benefits of the options. This article attempts to clear up some of the mud in the water and explain what the different types are.

Data storage types

Flat File
These are the simplest form of data storage.
The main use for a flat file is to move data between different data storage systems.
Usually, these are created by an export function on an application although they can be hand created.
The most common form of flat file is a CSV or Comma Separated Variable file. Spreadsheet
A spreadsheet is effectively a combination of a bunch of flat files and mathematical functions. It's a fairly simple form of data storage but also one that can be used fairly effectively by most people.
The in built mathematical functions make this a popular choice for many people. Database
A database is effectively a bunch of flat files set-up in a system that allows rapid searching, cross referencing and manipulation of data.
Databases can be very complex systems but also flexible.

Pros and cons

Flat File
Pros
Simple data storage.
Transportable between systems.
Can be read by a simple text editing package. Cons
Hard to search data.
No facility for cross searching of data.
No ability to apply mathematical formulae. Spreadsheet Pros
Simple data storage.
Effective where mathematical formulae are needed.
Easy to use, no real programming ability to get a lot out of a database.
Excellent ability to do statistical analysis and graphs. Cons
Poor cross tabulation.
Hard to avoid data duplication.
No real facility for search queries. Database
Pros
Very flexible and efficient way of storing data.
Excellent ability to do queries of the data.
If designed properly has minimal data duplication.
Saves a lot of time, more than offsetting any development costs. Cons
Requires expert knowledge to set-up and configure.
Can lose efficiency if it's poorly designed.
Can be expensive to maintain.
Final word
Overall databases are simply the best way to store data.
They are very efficient and flexible in the way they store data.
Flat files are only any good as a source that is then imported into a Spreadsheet or a Database.
Spreadsheets are only really useful when statistical graphics are required.
The best solution is to store all the data in a database and then do spreadsheet statistics off exports from queries on the database.

Same category articles Computers

A guide to buying a high-end PC

A guide to buying a high-end PC

The average shop-bought computer is more than good enough for most people who use it to browse social networking sites, write the odd word processor document and view videos through an online catchup service. However, for a small segment of the population, only high performance and custom graphics workstation computers will be sufficient. This guide provides a guide to buying a high-end PC.
Where to buy cheap gaming keyboards

Where to buy cheap gaming keyboards

Are you interested in purchasing a gaming keyboard? There are numerous reasons why it is better for you to get a gaming keyboard instead of a normal keyboard. This article details out where you can buy these unique keyboards for cheap prices. Also, find out what you want to look for in a gaming keyboard.
Where to download a free adware remover

Where to download a free adware remover

Adware belongs in the same sort of group as other horrible things such as viruses, trojans, malware etc. etc. which do nothing but cause your PC problems, be it from slowing it down to a crawl to not even starting up. Here, we will show you some places to get hold of free adware remove software.
Website design tips

Website design tips

Very often, people tries creating a website from scrap, full with ideas - and in most cases, result is not as expected. It is much better to have a step back and make a good planning of what the web will look like, and what the contents should be. Read this article to learn about the tips for website design.