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What Is A Database? (And How Does It Relate to Web Hosting?)

Juan Villarba
June 18, 2024


Every website needs a database in order to store, retrieve, and manipulate information. Although most website owners may never come into contact with this aspect of the web development process, it’s essential for the functionality of their sites.


Knowing what a database is and how it works can help website owners understand the intricacies of web development and make more informed decisions. In this article, we’ll take a look at what databases are, the types of databases, why they’re so important for websites, and how they relate to web hosting.



What Is A Database And What Does It Do?


A database is essentially a collection of data stored in a structured way that can be queried and manipulated. It’s like an electronic filing system where all the information related to your website, e-commerce store, or app is stored securely.


Databases are incredibly powerful tools for organizing and retrieving large amounts of data quickly. They allow companies to store, manage and analyze data in ways that weren’t possible before.


man searching about database on the computer

Databases help you store and organize critical business data.


When it comes to website hosting, having a strong and reliable database is essential. A good web host will provide access to powerful and secure databases that are capable of storing and retrieving the data needed for websites, e-commerce stores, and applications


Think of a database and web hosting like a ship sailing the ocean. The database is the strong hull of the vessel, providing a secure and reliable structure to store essential data within. Web hosting is like the powerful engine of the ship, propelling it forward and allowing for quick navigation across vast seas of information.


Together, they form an efficient system to manage, store and access your website’s content. So when it comes to choosing a hosting provider, make sure you don’t skimp on the engine—get a reliable host with plenty of horses! That way, your website will have smooth sailing for years to come.



What Kind Of Databases Are There?


There are a number of different types of databases available, each with its own features and capabilities. Here are some common database options:


SQL Databases


An SQL (Structured Query Language) database is a type of relational database that stores and retrieves data using queries written in a special language. It’s designed to store data in a structured format, making it easier to query, manipulate and analyze the data. Unlike other databases, an SQL database allows users to easily access a wide range of data with a single query.


One of the most popular SQL databases is MySQL, which is an open-source database management system developed by Oracle Corporation. It is widely used in web applications and provides features such as data security, high availability, scalability, query optimization, and performance. The MySQL database also offers advanced data manipulation capabilities such as support for stored procedures, triggers, cursors, and views.


an illustration on how SQL works

SQL is one of the most popular databases many industries use.


NoSQL Databases


NoSQL (not only SQL) databases are non-relational databases that don’t use structured query language for data storage and retrieval. They’re designed to store large volumes of unstructured data in a distributed environment. NoSQL databases are highly scalable and offer high performance as well as availability.


Popular NoSQL databases include MongoDB, Cassandra, and Couchbase. These databases are well-suited for large data sets that require high read and write performance. They’re also beneficial to big data analytics as they can handle large volumes of unstructured data with ease.



What Are The Differences Between SQL And NoSQL Databases?


Both databases offer different capabilities and features that make them suitable for different types of applications.


SQL databases are based on a structured query language, while NoSQL databases are non-relational and use other methods for data storage and retrieval.


SQL databases are designed to store data in a structured format, making it easier to query, manipulate, and analyze the data. This makes them ideal for applications that require complex queries and data manipulation.


In the real world, an SQL database is ideal for a retail store to track customer orders, keep track of inventory levels, and sales data. Logistics companies can also use an SQL database to manage shipment tracking and employee scheduling.


mini cart on laptop showing the value of e-commerce businesses benefit from SQL databases

E-commerce businesses benefit from SQL databases in inventory and order tracking.


NoSQL databases, on the other hand, are designed to store large amounts of unstructured data and can handle high read-and-write performance. They are well-suited for big data analytics as they can process large volumes of data quickly.


Social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram use a NoSQL database to store user profiles, posts, comments, images, and videos. Healthcare providers can also benefit from a NoSQL database to store patient records, medical images, and test results. In addition, sites hosted on WordPress typically use a NoSQL database since it’s better suited for large data sets and high read/write performance.


Overall, both types of databases have their own advantages and disadvantages depending on the application. So when choosing a database, it’s important to consider your specific needs and choose the right one for your application.



Things To Consider When Choosing A Database Type


As a business or organization, when choosing a database type there are certain things that need to be considered. The three most important considerations include database security, costs, and functionalities.


1. Database security


laptop user showing database security is critical

Security is critical when selecting a database as you’ll be handling a mountain of data.


Security is a vital part of any database. Both SQL and NoSQL databases have strict security protocols to ensure that data remains safe and secure from unauthorized access. It’s important to choose a database that has built-in security features, such as encryption and authentication, so you can rest assured your data is protected.


SQL databases use a variety of security protocols to protect the data. These include authentication, authorization, encryption, data integrity checks, and logging.


  • Authentication
    Requires users to provide credentials such as a username and password to access the database.
  • Authorization
    Ensures that only authorized users can access certain areas or functions within the database.
  • Encryption
    Used to encrypt data sent over the network and stored within the database, preventing unauthorized access.
  • Data integrity
    Checks ensure that only valid data is inserted into the database.
  • Logging
    Allows you to track any changes made to the database, making it easier to detect malicious activities.


NoSQL databases also use similar security protocols to protect the data. They also use granular access control to ensure that only authorized users can access data.


2. Costs: How big is your budget?


Cost is another important factor to consider when choosing a database type. SQL databases typically require more resources and infrastructure, making them more expensive than NoSQL databases.


SQL databases are often more expensive than NoSQL databases due to the complexity involved in setting up and managing them. SQL databases require more resources, infrastructure, and specialized personnel compared to NoSQL databases due to their structured nature and the need for complex querying.


NoSQL databases, on the other hand, are much less expensive and can be managed by anyone with basic programming knowledge. They also don’t require any additional infrastructure or setup costs, making them a cost-effective option for small businesses. However, as your data grows, so do the costs associated with running a NoSQL database.


3. Functionalities: What features do you need?


When choosing a database type considering what features and functionalities you need in order to build your application are critical. SQL databases are typically better suited for applications that require complex queries, such as analytics, data mining, and business intelligence.


NoSQL databases are better for applications that require high read-and-write performance or large volumes of unstructured data. They are also well-suited for cloud computing and big data analytics projects.


woman uses computer to check the source code of an SQL database

You can scale NoSQL as your business grows.


Ultimately, the type of database you choose should depend on your needs and budget. If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution with high read-and-write performance, then NoSQL is the way to go. But if you need complex queries and analytics, SQL might be the better choice.


Regardless of which database type you choose, make sure it meets your needs and provides the necessary security protocols and features to keep your data safe and secure.



Verdict: Databases Are Critical To Your Website


Databases are an essential part of any website and it is important to choose the right one for your needs. When choosing a database, users must consider security, costs, and functionalities in order to have a successful web hosting experience.


SQL databases provide more robust features for complex queries but require more resources and infrastructure than NoSQL databases do. Conversely, NoSQL databases offer cost-effectiveness with high read-and-write performance but may not be suitable for applications that require complex querying or analytics.


Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which database best meets your needs while providing adequate protection against unauthorized access and data breaches.




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