Examples of when to use a DBMS

In any of these situations, a DBMS should probably be used to manage data:

  • There is more than one user who needs to access the data at the same time.

  • There is at least a moderate amount of data. For example, we may need to maintain information about a few hundred customers.

  • There are relationships between the stored data items. For example, customers may have any number of related purchase orders.

  • There is more than one kind of data record. For example, there might be information about customers, orders, inventory, and other data in an online store.

  • There are constraints that must be rigidly enforced on the data, such as field lengths, field types, uniqueness of customer numbers, and so on.

  • New or consolidated information must be produced from basic, related information; that is, the data must be queried to produce reports or results.

  • There is a large amount of data that must be searched quickly.

  • Security is important. There is a need to enforce rules as to who can access the data.

  • Adding, deleting, or modifying data is a complex process.

Examples of when not to use a DBMS

There are some situations where a relational DBMS is probably unnecessary or unsuitable. Here are some examples:

  • There is one type of data item, and the data isn't searched. For example, if a log entry is written when a user logs in and logs out, appending the entry to the end of a simple text file may be sufficient.

  • The data-management task is trivial. In this case, the data might be coded into a web script in the middle tier, rather than adding the overhead of a database access each time the data is needed.

  • The data requires complex analysis. For analysis, a spreadsheet package or statistical software may be more appropriate.