The entire IT sector is filled with words used interchangeably but don’t always have the same meaning. For instance, data and information are often used as synonyms of each other but when it comes to databases, their creation, and management, using data and information interchangeably can confuse. The media is partly to blame for this. Read any article on the importance of information and the words are used interchangeably. The same is true for articles extolling the virtues of data-driven approaches to business. It is wise then to define what data is then in the context of databases as a means to prevent further confusion.

The Data in Database

In its simplest form data is any object worthy of consideration for a specific purpose. For a bank, this could be a customer’s name, social security number, address, contact details, and credit rating. For an online game, it can be names, emails, gamer tags, and the level of the player. While it can be successfully argued that the key-value pairs stored by an organization most certainly provide information about you if one byte of day or one key-value pair is considered it only provides a pixel of the whole picture.

The Database

A database then can be defined as a systematic collection of data, in its simplest form. This simple definition hides the importance of these databases as they make retrieving useful information from the mass of data a reality. Successful ventures are built on how well their databases are created and maintained. As an example, Facebook not only needs to store data but present and manipulate data according to how users interact with the social network. For many development cycles, developing an effective database is mission critical to success.

There are several types of databases but one of the most readily seen by professionals has become known as a relational database. This type of database lays out the various key-value pairs in the form of tables. In many ways, they represent what can be compared to an Excel spreadsheet of database information. Popular relational database management solutions include MySQL, Oracle, and Microsoft SQL Server Database. Given SQL has become the gold standard language for manipulating and accessing stored data several options have been developed to enable comprehensive backups. Given that an entire organization's operation can rest upon a database, a robust policy dedicated to backup SQL database is an absolute must.


While several types of database exist other than relational databases as mentioned above, they all consist of five easily definable components. The first, hardware, is any computer that allows other machines to interface with real-world systems. Software is the program developed to control and manage the access to data stored on the database. Data, the third component defined above, is a raw bit of information that needs to be stored on the database in such a way to make it useful. This requires a set of procedures that govern the storage and management of data. Lastly, to implement these procedures a database access language, like SQL, is needed to access, retrieve, and manipulate the stored data.

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This is by no means a comprehensive guide to databases but can be a handy tool when educating yourself as to what the best choice for a database management tool is, as an example. Databases form a pivotal piece of the overall structure of the economy, having a simple understanding of them should be considered vital in today's digital age.