Advantages & Disadvantages of a Relational Database Model

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The relational database has stood the test of time.

The relational database organizes data in a series of tables. Each table has its own fields specific to the type of data being stored. The database management system (DBMS) designed around the relationships between tables has survived more than two decades because of its flexibility. Once the user enters data into a table and saves it in the massive database, a query will recall the information at any time.


Data Entry

In the relational database, you can manage endless sets of data in tables without having to go back and reenter data a second time. You can create separate records for each type of data to be stored. Your database may require more design and maintenance. The opposite of the relational database is the flat file database, which is a giant table of individual records. When you want to add information, such as updating a customer's information, you have to reenter all of the information in a new record in the flat file database's table. With the relational database, you save a lot of time by creating as many tables as you want.


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Data Management Advantages

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is a popular example of a relational database. The Microsoft Corporation updated its scalable server system to make it easier for programmers to build, manage and query their data warehouse. Some advantages of relational databases like SQL Server 2008 are the ability to program a query to search all data tables for the exact information you need; the ability to scale the database to the size of a very large organization; the ability to access, update and share information among many user stations; and advanced capabilities for analyzing and reporting. The query language relies on formulas to tell the database what kind of data you want to pull from tables in the system. Finally, the relational database can interface with many third-party tools.


Data Management Disadvantages

An alternative to the relational database is a database system using an object-oriented programming language like Java. Tech Republic's Justin James highlighted several disadvantages of the relational database system. Database developers tend to add layers to the database for new functions and use web services to couple layers of data. The disadvantages arise from limitations of the language. According to James, the current relational database forces developers to recreate logic, to find solutions to mismatches between applications and their database system, to retrofit or debug the existing database because of time and money already invested and to work with a very complex system.