Wondering what a database is? Well, this is the right place to be. Basically, a database is a collection of data organized for easy storage and access. Data is a single piece of information, and can include, but is not limited to, text, images, numbers, and media clips! Databases help to organize data in a coherent way to help us in our everyday lives. Every single day, we can accumulate tons of data. Without a way to organize all of this, the world would be a complete mess of little pieces of scattered information!
You might not know it, but you frequently use databases in your everyday lives. Have you ever checked a dictionary for the spelling of some unknown word? Well, dictionaries are large databases of words! They organize words and their definitions in such a way to make it easy for us to use! Your local library is also an example of a database. They store hundreds upon hundreds of books in a logical order. There's the children's section and the adult's section, the nonfiction and fiction sections, the paperback and hardcover sections, and so on. Within these sections, books are placed in alphabetical order or in the order denoted by the Dewey Decimal System. All of this is a coherent way to organize books!
Libraries and dictionaries are both paper-based databases. This means that these databases are not computerized, but instead are written down on paper. Paper-based databases have often presented dozens of problems. They are cumbersome and hard to transport from one place to another. It is also quite easy to misplace a page or a portion of the database! That is why some brilliant scientists have introduced computerized databases. These are databases that rely on computers to organize and store data. They are fast, compact, durable, and extremely reliable!
Ever since computerized databases have been introduced, they have played an integral part in record keeping and in the storage of data. These databases are often used by the government, by universities and colleges, and by businesses to keep track of data. Most of these databases are private and of no interest to the general public. However, there is also a variety of databases, both commercial and non-profit, for the public. Anybody could access these databases, providing that they had the proper software and hardware.
As the years have progressed, databases have begun to play an important role in the Internet. They are vital components of many websites, especially on-line stores, like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Databases are also vital components of search engines like Yahoo and Google. They enable the search engines to keep track of the millions of websites so that you can access them quickly and efficiently. Also, there is what is called an on-line database. These are databases that are available to anybody that has a modem, computer, and a telephone line- basically, anybody with Internet access! The user merely connects to the database, type in the data it wants to access, and voila, the data is displayed on the computer screen!
Now that you know what a database is, head over to the next section:
Parts of a Database