What Is A Relational Database: A Beginner’s Guide

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what is relational database

Data storage and management are crucial for businesses and individuals in today’s digital age. But have you ever wondered how we organize and access all this data?

Let’s discuss relational databases, one of the ways you can store and organize data for further analysis and use.

Relational databases have been around for decades and currently form the backbone of many modern software applications. They provide a structured approach to storing and retrieving data, making it easier to manage and analyze vast amounts of information quickly.

This article is perfect if you’re unfamiliar with relational databases or want to learn more about how they work. We’ll explore relational databases’ fundamental principles, advantages, and components. When you finish reading, you’ll understand a relational database and why it’s crucial for efficient data management.

Table Of Content

    1. What is a Relational Database?
    2. Relational Database Structure
    3. Relational vs Non-Relational Databases
    4. How is Data Organized in a Relational Database System?
    5. Popular Relational Database Examples
    6. The Advantages of Relational Databases
    7. The Disadvantages of Relational Databases
    8. Conclusion
    9. FAQs

What is a Relational Database?

A relational database is a type of database that stores and organizes data logically to facilitate efficient retrieval.

It consists of tables, columns, and rows connected through relationships—hence the name “relational.” These connections enable users to quickly find related information by identifying common attributes between tables.

Unlike other types of databases, such as flat file databases, relational databases are designed to be flexible and allow users to add or delete data quickly. This makes them ideal for large projects and applications requiring frequent updates and information changes.

Relational Database Structure

Relational databases are composed of objects called tables.

Each table contains columns and rows that store information about a particular topic, such as customer information or product details.

These tables are related to each other through a foreign key, a unique identifier connecting two tables. This allows users to find related data quickly and efficiently.

An Example Highlighting Relational Database Structure

Consider the following table, which is part of a database tracking customer information:

CustomerID FirstName LastName City State
1 Amit Patil Mumbai Maharashtra
2 Jane Smith Kochi Kerala
3 Anil Sharma Lucknow Uttar Pradesh

In this example, the Customer ID is the foreign key that connects this table to other tables in the database.

Relational vs Non-Relational Databases

A relational database is a type of database that stores and organizes information into related tables, allowing users to store and access data efficiently.

Relational databases manage large volumes of structured data in many applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, banking systems, eCommerce websites, and massive multi-user systems.

Some well-known examples of relational databases include MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, and IBM DB2.

Non-relational databases, on the other hand, store data in a flat-file format or as documents. These databases are better suited for web development projects that require rapid changes and don’t need to be structured like relational databases. They are also more suitable for managing large amounts of unstructured data, such as images and text.

Examples of NoSQL or Non-Relational databases include MongoDB, Apache Cassandra, Redis, Couchbase, and Apache HBase.

How is Data Organized in a Relational Database System?

Data in a relational database system is organized into tables containing records of fields. Each field holds a specific data type, such as a text string, number, or date.

Tables are related to each other through the use of keys. Keys are unique identifiers that allow the data in one table to be linked to data in another table. This allows for efficient searches through the database and makes it easier to find related data quickly.

The power of a relational database lies in its ability to update and manipulate data easily. Using the keys used to link tables; users can quickly and accurately add, delete, or modify information without going through the entire database each time.

Additionally, relational databases make it easier for users to find related data by allowing them to search based on specific criteria, such as customer name or product type.

Popular Relational Database Examples

Now that you know what a relational database is, how relational databases work, and how they save data, let’s discuss some popular examples of relational databases:

  • MySQL: MySQL is a viral and widely-used relational database. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it’s an open-source database, which means users are free to use and modify the code.MySQL is highly regarded for its scalability, ensuring it can handle large amounts of data without compromising performance. In addition, MySQL comes with robust security measures to protect sensitive information. What sets MySQL apart is its user-friendly nature. Its intuitive interface and comprehensive documentation make it relatively easy to learn and use. This aspect has made MySQL a top choice for various applications, such as web applications, content management systems, and e-commerce platforms. Some industry giants, like Facebook and Twitter, trust MySQL to manage their vast data. The fact that such renowned companies rely on MySQL speaks volumes about its reliability and capability as a relational database solution.
  • PostgreSQL: PostgreSQL is another open-source relational database management system known for its robustness and extensibility. It provides advanced features like geospatial data management, full-text search, and support for complex queries. PostgreSQL is widely used in applications that require handling large amounts of data, such as analytics platforms and financial systems.
  • MariaDB: MariaDB is a community-developed fork of MySQL. It offers high performance, scalability, and enhanced security features. MariaDB is compatible with MySQL, making switching from one to the other easy. Additionally, it aims to maintain backward compatibility, ensuring existing MySQL applications work smoothly with MariaDB.
  • SQLite: SQLite is a lightweight, serverless, self-contained relational database engine. Unlike most traditional databases, SQLite operates directly from a single file stored on the user’s machine, making it suitable for embedded systems, mobile applications, and small to medium-sized websites. Despite its simplicity, SQLite still provides many valuable features, including transactions, triggers, and support for complex queries.
  • Oracle Database: Oracle Database is a well-known enterprise-grade relational database system. It offers high availability, scalability, and security for mission-critical applications. It is widely used in large organizations and industries such as finance, retail, and telecommunications. Enterprise users prefer it because of advanced features like real-time analytics, data compression, and machine learning capabilities.
  • Microsoft SQL Server: Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system developed by Microsoft. It offers a comprehensive set of features for data management, business intelligence, and advanced analytics.SQL Server is commonly used in Windows-based environments and integrates well with other Microsoft products like Azure and Office 365.
  • IBM DB2: DB2 is an enterprise-class database management system developed by IBM. It is known for its scalability, reliability, and robust security features.DB2 supports various data types, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data. It is commonly used in large-scale enterprise applications, financial systems, and data warehousing.

The Advantages of Relational Databases

Relational databases have many advantages over other data storage solutions. Here are some of the most significant benefits they provide:


The ability to easily add, modify, and delete data makes relational databases highly flexible for managing large volumes of data generated during large projects.

Speed and Efficiency

Users can quickly find related data because the information is organized into tables with relationships. This makes it much easier to access the required information without wasting time going through the entire database.


Relational databases allow admins to set access levels that limit who can see and modify certain data items. This ensures sensitive information is kept secure from unauthorized users.

The Disadvantages of Relational Databases

Despite the many advantages, you’ll find that relational databases are not without issues. Here’re the disadvantages you should consider before you opt for these RDBMS.

The first challenge is correctly setting up a relational database can be difficult and time-consuming. Establishing relationships between tables requires understanding how the data is related and how it should be organized.

Furthermore, relational databases are not well-suited for certain types of data that require complex querying or large amounts of unstructured data.

The second issue users face when using relational databases is the lack of scalability. As the database grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage and maintain. This can be especially problematic for applications where data storage and manipulation requirements grow with time.


Relational databases are a popular data storage solution in almost all industries.

With their structured design and relationships between tables, relational databases like MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, and IBM DB2 offer the ability to store, organize, and access data quickly.

While relational databases provide advantages such as flexibility, scalability, and standardized query language, they can face challenges with unstructured data and complex maintenance. Nevertheless, their advantages make them invaluable for optimizing data-driven processes and making informed decisions.

RedSwitches Knows Relational Databases

RedSwitches is a bare metal provider that provides businesses with the hardware and software they need to run their operations. We offer various RDBMS options, from Microsoft SQL Server to IBM DB2. With our experienced staff, we can help customers choose the best database solution for their needs.

RedSwitches also provides specialized services specifically for implementing and maintaining relational databases. Our team is well-versed in the latest technologies, such as high availability, real-time analytics, and advanced security measures. We also offer comprehensive support to ensure customers get the most out of their RDBMS solution.

Don’t let your data management hold you back. Take the next step and reach out to RedSwitches today. Our team will work closely with you to understand your requirements and provide a hosting solution that maximizes the potential of your relational database.


Q1. Is MySQL a relational database?

Yes, MySQL is a relational database. It is an open-source RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) developed by Oracle and used worldwide. MySQL provides a secure, robust, and efficient way to store and manage data in multiple formats. This makes it ideal for applications that require high levels of scalability as well as powerful data analysis capabilities. MySQL allows users to configure and query data easily, making it a great business choice.

Q2. What is the difference between DBMS and RDBMS?

A DBMS (Database Management System) is a software application that creates, manages, and maintains databases. It is used to store, organize and retrieve data from a database. A DBMS typically allows users to interact with the database using queries written in Structured Query Language (SQL).

An RDBMS (Relational Database Management System) is a type of DBMS that uses the relational model for organizing data in tables related to one another through critical values. This allows efficient data access, manipulation, and robust SQL query analysis capabilities.

Q3. What to look for when selecting a relational database?

When selecting a relational database, it is crucial to consider your application’s size, scalability, and performance requirements. Your choice of database should be based on the amount of data your application will need to store and manage and its expected growth over time. It is also essential to evaluate the performance requirements of your application to select the best-suited RDBMS for your needs. Security and compliance requirements should also be considered when selecting a relational database. Finally, it is essential to consider the cost of the software, maintenance, and support when evaluating different RDBMS options.

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