Tech Basics: Spreadsheets vs. Databases

Tech Basics: Spreadsheets vs. Databases

Data is crucial for small and large organizations. Business managers and analysts rely on this data for strategies and decisions for the business. Spreadsheets and databases are the two most widely used data storage devices.

The terms are usually used interchangeably, others may not be able to tell the difference between them, yet they’re far from the same. Both are very helpful, but spreadsheets aren’t the best tool, given that they lack a database’s flexibility and functionality.

What is a spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet is a computer application that became a standard feature of an office suite; it’s like having a digital form of a paper-based accounting worksheet. Many business organizations use spreadsheets instead of keeping paper-based accounts.

The spreadsheet consists of cells, and each cell can store numerical or text information. VisiCalc was the first electronic spreadsheet, and Lotus 1-2-3 was a well-known spreadsheet before the Windows era. Today, MS Excel is the most widely used digital spreadsheet.

What is a database?

A database is a collection of related information kept electronically. Each database stores information in tables where a user can insert, update, recover and delete data using a Database Management System (DBMS). Additionally, a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) is a DBMS based on the relational model. A developer can use Structured Query Language (SQL) to perform procedures or control information on the database.

What are the advantages of a database over a spreadsheet?

  • A spreadsheet enables text and numerical characters to be stored in its cells yet can not handle other formats such as pictures and videos. On the other hand, a database can accommodate various files kept in tables and hold larger file sizes. You can also organize information into numerous views and isolate subsets of data at a time.
  • You can type anything by default in a spreadsheet, which could create issues when you or a co-worker typed erroneous data. In databases, you can establish parameters or conditions to confirm data inputs that prompt the user about the invalid entry. The database offers integrity and order to the data stored in its tables.
  • You can easily share spreadsheets through links or cloud sharing. But, sharing is not as good as collaborating, and spreadsheets fail when it comes to the latter. There are many highly recommended collaborative database software for internal use today. You can easily find a database editor that allows you to build and maintain your tools.
  • Spreadsheets have limited browsing and filtering capability. A database can retrieve and arrange information a lot quicker through specific parameters. Today, the easiest Basedash database editor is within everyone’s reach, and even non-programmers can utilize these tools in their work.

How relevant is a database in today’s workplace?

Database systems run well with Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Whether on a company server or cloud-based, you’ll be able to have a protected and dependable database system. A self-hosted database editor enables your system to put an application on your server, store the information in your database, and build your own web experience.

The Need for HIPAA Compliance

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) sets the standard for businesses that deal with protected health information (PHI). Healthcare providers must transition to digital operations; for this reason, HIPAA compliant database software is an essential tool in the healthcare industry.

Final Thoughts

There are two extensively used means to store data electronically: a spreadsheet and a database. A spreadsheet works well for accounting tasks; it’s probably created with accountants in mind. But, the database is used in large ventures that cover almost all markets.

Nonetheless, the main difference is that the spreadsheet is an application developed to help organize, manage, and calculate data. While a database can do all the spreadsheet features, it does more than gather related data and organize them for easy accessibility and control.