If you need to store data for personal or professional reasons, an online database provides greater access, shareability, and customization than a static or on-premises solution. Online databases can help you organize and manage your data better and collaborate with team members, family, and friends more quickly and reliably.
In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of using an online database for personal and professional use, as well as the various methods you can create and personalize your database. Then, we’ll go over the key characteristics to look for when selecting an online database solution and present a comparison of the top free and open-source options.
What Is an Online Database?
An online database is stored information that may be accessed over the internet or a local network rather than being stored on a server or computer. Online databases are hosted on websites or through software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions accessed through a web browser.
On the other hand, a cloud database is a database that only runs on the internet (not a local network). Cloud databases are managed by cloud computing systems and can be accessed from anywhere, typically by numerous users at once.
Regardless of hosting, a database is often thought of as a spreadsheet (grid layout) that saves numerical or qualitative data. Many websites with extensive, in-depth materials on a specific topic, on the other hand, qualify as databases as well.
Database-driven webpages, which are web pages that are configured to pull information directly from an underlying database, can be created using online databases.
When someone adds or modifies the information in the database, the web page instantly updates. You can manually code a database-driven website or use a web application builder to connect your database to a user interface (UI) or another user-friendly web environment.
A clear example of a low-code development platform requiring little to no human programming.
Databases can generally be used internally to store and track information about a company. They can be built for an external audience such as customers, potential consumers, or the general public. There are typically three tiers of database access:
• Open: These are free databases that anyone with access to the internet can use. However, not all free online databases are open source (the platform’s source code is open to the public and customizable). The Listing of Open Access Databases (LOADB) lists many public databases created by government organizations, research and academic institutions, and others.
• Subscription: These databases can only be accessed by paying a subscription fee (typically yearly or monthly). Many scientific or academic periodicals are available only through subscription.
• Private: Private databases are ones that are only accessible to a limited number of people. Some private databases operate on a subscription basis, although many are free and only require login credentials or designated access. Internal resources within a firm or a personal database are two examples.
What Is the Role of Databases in our today’s world?
In today’s data-driven economy, dependable databases are critical. Aside from just storing enormous amounts of data, today’s databases can help inform corporate decisions, organize and prioritize one’s personal life, and play a role in assuring equal access to information.
However, it is frequently tricky to examine enormous amounts of data properly. To address this issue, researchers and academics are implementing ways that use data, text, and reality mining to transform this stream of information into relevant insights for the public.
Furthermore, various open data efforts, such as ODINE, Open Data Institute (ODI), and Open Data International, promote institutional openness and efficiency. They also attempt to empower individuals outside of the organization to cooperate, innovate, and challenge prevailing trends or practices. There are also financial advantages to making data public.
According to a 2013 McKinsey Global Institute analysis, open data “may help unlock $3 trillion to $5 trillion in economic value yearly” in education, transportation, consumer goods, electricity, oil and gas, healthcare, and consumer finance.
On both sides of the public-versus-private-data issue, there are ethical considerations. On the one hand, making records available to the public can increase openness and help hold institutions accountable.
On the other hand, public data may be utilized for additional study without the informed consent of those created or affected by the data.
When Should You Use an Online Database for Business or Personal Purposes?
Databases are one of the most fundamental and widely used structural pieces of information on the internet today. (Even if the database itself is not online, it is frequently linked to a public website.)
As a result, an online database can be used for nearly any professional or personal purpose. Databases increase information organization and accessibility at both levels, leading to more informed decisions and time savings.
Furthermore, many online databases allow you to integrate data across databases to make relational decisions (a relational database).
Before you start thinking about specific features or products, you need to figure out what function(s) you want your database to do. The more particular you are at this point, the easier it will be to select. Six major areas to evaluate are as follows:
• Content-Type: What type of data do you require your database to store (numerical data, written articles, resources, multimedia, etc.)? Make sure you select a solution that can support the essential file kinds (documents, images, audio, photos, etc.) and has a user-friendly structure for accessing this type of material.
• Content Quantity: How much info do you have? You must be aware of your file sizes and the predicted expansion of your data to select an option with adequate storage space. Most free choices provide between 300MB and 500MB of storage, or roughly 10,000 data records.
• Who will interact with your database (the general public, internal teams, family and friends, or just you)? This will impact the layout, organization, and usability considerations.
• Users: How many persons require database access (consider viewers, editors, and administrators)? Will you require different degrees of access control?
• Security: Will your database store confidential or sensitive data? If this is so, you’ll need a solution with the appropriate architecture to prevent security breaches. The most prevalent types of data encryption are SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) – this shows you a website is data encrypted if the URL begins with https (the s stands for secure). If your database stores medical information, it must also be HIPAA compliant.
• Longevity: Are you holding data for an extended period? How frequently will the data have to be updated?
Businesses commonly use databases in the following areas:
• Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Compile data on client orders or feedback and track customer purchase history over time.
• Finances: Manage accounting through an online database, allowing all relevant parties to see up-to-date information from anywhere, at any time.
• Inventory Tracking: Keep a precise, easily accessible record of every item in your inventory to stay on top of orders, timing, and on-hand stock.
• Personnel: Establish a database of team members’ contact information, their history, their performance, and relevant notes that HR can use to keep records and maintain good employee relations. Alternatively, you can use an online database to allocate resources to projects and immediately spot over-or under-allocation.
Individuals frequently use databases for the following purposes:
• Personal Budget: Keep track of your money by building a budget database that lists your income, expenditures, and savings.
• To-Do Lists: Access online databases from any device to access your to-do lists while on the road.
• Personal Media: Many people already save their media, such as music or images, in a database (iTunes, Spotify, iPhoto, etc.). Instead of taking up device storage space with local files, online versions save data to the cloud, which allows you to view it from any device with an internet connection.
• Medical Records: For simple access to medication, immunization, and illness history, you can establish a customized database for your and your family’s records. However, ensure that your database has enough security mechanisms in place to house this type of sensitive data.
Types of Online Database
Online databases can be classified into two broad categories:
1. Reference Databases
• Bibliographic indices
• Databases for referrals or directories
2. Sources Databases
• Textual-Numeric and Numeric Databases
• Databases with Full Text
Online Databases You Should Know
Everything is documented on the internet, and some of that information is consolidated in a vast knowledge base. You can call them online encyclopedias or databases, but the question is, do you know which ones are the best?
Here are several large internet databases that you may access and examine for free or browse at your leisure.
- 1000 Genomes
- Find a Grave
- The Big Cartoon Database
- The Simpsons Archive
- Ultimate Guitar Archive
- Plants for the Future
- Tiny Images