Relational Database Design

Written by Jill Morrison
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Relational databases are management systems that only store data inside tables. Some other types of databases use alternative methods to tables. For instance, object databases use graphs to organize data. Some people use entirely different methods than databases, such as paper filing or text documents. Though many options exist for data storage, relational databases provide the most mature and useful approach to data organization and management.

Features of Relational Database Designs

Most types of databases are not relational databases. With relational databases, tables are the only thing that users will see to manage data. The tables are a set of rows and columns that are very similar in appearance to spreadsheets. Rows are comparable to a record as columns are to a field. Because relational databases only manipulate tables, end results of all relational operations are also tables.

A good example of a well-known relational database system is Microsoft Access. Microsoft Access guides users through its database program with the help of wizards and office helpers. Access provides many advantages over spreadsheets and other types of data organization systems. For instance, it is one of the few database systems that can perform complex aggregate calculations, retrieve specific records, cross-reference records in different tables, and update records in bulk with its database management tables.

In the past, relational databases were considered to be slow and impractical. Today, relational databases have incredibly improved performance levels with the help of indexes. The improved indexes allow for larger database logs that implement transactions and write more to disks. Indexes also speed up queries associated with data management. Therefore, relational databases are a good choice for data management in any line of business.

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