A database is a collection of information that is organized so that it can easily be accessed, managed, and updated. In one view, databases can be classified according to types of content: bibliographic, full-text, numeric, and images.

In computing, databases are sometimes classified according to their organizational approach. The most prevalent approach is the relational database, a tabular database in which data is defined so that it can be reorganized and accessed in a number of different ways. A distributed database is one that can be dispersed or replicated among different points in a network. An object-oriented programming database is one that is congruent with the data defined in object classes and subclasses.

Computer databases typically contain aggregations of data records or files, such as sales transactions, product catalogs and inventories, and customer profiles. Typically, a database manager provides users the capabilities of controlling read/write access, specifying report generation, and analyzing usage. Databases and database managers are prevalent in large mainframe systems, but are also present in smaller distributed workstation and mid-range systems such as the AS/400 and on personal computers. SQL (Structured Query Language) is a standard language for making interactive queries from and updating a database such as IBM's DB2, Microsoft's SQL Server, and database products from Oracle, Sybase, and Computer Associates.


Contributor(s): Allan Leake
This was last updated in April 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse
View the next item in this Essential Guide: database-agnostic or view the full guide: Microsoft SQL Server training: What you need to know

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