Databases are an essential part of software development. As with most things in programming, if you need to understand databases, then don't jump directly into the features of database software.
First, go the other way. Realise these things were designed to solve a problem; there's some data, information that you need to store. This data could be anything. It could be information about customers, flight path, employees, orders, details about the location of road accidents etc... This data could be in text format, dates, numeric or document files such as images, audio and video.
Just having data is not a good enough reason to need a database. Having data is not the problem, the problem is what comes next?
Some of the primary problems that databases solve include:
# 1. Data Retrieval
What starts of as a small amount of data has the tendency to turn into large amount of data. As applications grows in size and complexity, the amount of data that they need to store and manage increases exponentially. Without a database, this would have to be stored in flat files or other non-relational structures such as Microsoft Excel files, which can become unwieldy and difficult to manage as the database grows.
Relational databases, in particular, provide a structured way to store data, making it easy to query and retrieve specific information. They also allow for data to be organized in a way that makes sense for the specific application, which can greatly simplify the process of working with the data.
# 2. Data integrity
Another important problem that databases solve is data integrity and consistency. As applications grow in size and complexity, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that data is entered and stored in a consistent and accurate manner.
Relational databases provide a way to enforce constraints and rules that ensure data is entered and stored in a consistent and accurate manner. This ensures that the data remains accurate and consistent even as it is updated and modified over time.
# 3. Scalability
Scalability is another important problem that databases solve. As applications grow in size and complexity, they need to be able to handle an increasing number of users and requests.
Relational databases provide a way to scale the application across multiple servers. This allows the application to handle an increasing number of users and requests without becoming overwhelmed. With the help of databases, developers can easily scale their applications to meet the growing demands of their users.
# 4. Redundancy
You've probably felt the pain of working in a spread sheet or a word process where something happens and you lose some data. It's annoying and inconvenient. But if the information you've just lost was the details of a stock trade or the receipt details for an invoice that was just paid for, that's not inconvenience. That's unacceptable. The data is critical. With many companies, the data is their entire business
The ability to store multiple copies of data in different locations can provide a level of protection against data loss and ensure that the data remains available even in the event of a failure.
This can be achieved through creating a copy of the data on another server, or through the use of backup systems. This ensures that even if there is a problem with the primary data storage, the application can still access the redundant copies of data and continue to operate without interruption.
You might have one of these problems; you might have all of these problems and more besides. These are the reasons we need a database. It's not about providing somewhere to put your data. It's about allowing that data to grow and still be manageable. About keeping it accurate and internally consistent.
Keeping it secure and controlling access to it. Tracking exactly what was done to the data and when.
In conclusion, This is what a database can give us. Structure. It's a structured system to put your data in that imposes rules upon that data. And the rules are yours. Because the importance of these rules change based on your needs.