The Disadvantages of Online Databases

By Brenda Priddy

Online databases have become prevalent with changes to the Internet involving cloud computing and Web 2.0. These databases store all their information online, where anyone can access it. Online databases also free up localized servers and hard-drive space. However, there are several drawbacks to creating and using online databases.

Complex Server

Hosting a database online takes a more complex server than many companies or schools want to operate. The servers capable of handling databases generally require the upkeep of professional IT personnel. Many of the processes required to operate a database are difficult for online servers and applications to operate. Offline software is more capable of handling the complex tasks necessary to run a thorough database.

Increased Costs

The cost of operating and developing a database for online application and operation can be fairly expensive. The owner must pay for the development of the database, which can cost well over $500 for even a simple database, and the owner must also pay for the additional hosting that databases require. Databases require a vast amount of server space, which can make them very expensive to run.

Security Risks

Online databases incur more security risks than offline databases. An online database is easier to hack and can more easily receive viruses and other malware. It usually requires less knowledge and energy to hack into an online database because so many of the processes and data are located online rather than in a secure, offline area. This leads to the higher expense of greater security as well as constant monitoring of the database by knowledgeable personnel.

Limited Time Frame

Many online databases are limited in the information that they present to users. Most online databases collect data from other sources online. According to research from St. Mary's University in Texas, much of the information online is limited to the years in which the Internet has been around--from 1990 onward. There are few legitimate sources online for data beyond recent history. Much of the data on the Internet is limited to 20th and 21st century knowledge.

Limited Topics

An online database typically has limited search ranges and available topics. This is sometimes due to the limited spacing available to house the database online. With limited topics and search ranges, data collected from online databases is often less informative than that of databases from offline sources.

Difficult Searching

Another disadvantage to online databases is the difficulty in searching. Search terms must be exact to bring up results, which can be frustrating for someone who does not know the exact phrasing to search for. According to research presented at San Mateo Community College, cross-referencing is much harder with online databases.