Fundamental Understanding of Databases for Beginners

May 05, 2024

1. Introduction to Database

A database (DB) is a structured organizational system comprising a collection of data organized and stored to facilitate access, update, and processing of data in an organized and efficient manner. Databases play a crucial role in information management, providing a fundamental platform for applications and users to access information based on specific requirements. The primary objective of a database is to provide a means to organize data so that it can be easily accessed and manipulated. This is typically achieved through the use of data structures such as tables, relationships, and rules to ensure integrity, security, and performance in data management.

Databases have the capability to store and manage various types of data, ranging from simple text data to complex multimedia data. They provide methods for querying, updating, and processing data, as well as ensuring the consistency and uniformity of information during usage. A notable feature of databases is their ability to share data, allowing multiple users and applications to access data simultaneously, with access control mechanisms in place to ensure data security and consistency.

2. Significance and Role of Databases in Information Technology

Databases play an extremely crucial role in the field of information technology, with the following primary impacts:

Data Storage

Databases are significantly responsible for storing and managing diverse forms of information from various sources. Including information about customers, products, and financial data, databases provide a structured platform to organize, preserve, and access information easily and efficiently. This supports strategic decision-making processes, operational optimization, and interaction with customers, while ensuring integrity and security for the organization’s critical data.

Information Management

By organizing data into predefined structures, databases create an environment for storing data that is easily accessible and processable. Structuring information into tables, relationships, and appropriate data structures helps optimize the process of searching and querying data. Additionally, providing a user interface for organized and intuitive interaction with information helps reduce complexity and enhance visual clarity when working with data.

Application Support

Databases play an immensely crucial role in supporting information applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, web, and mobile applications. These applications heavily rely on databases for storing and retrieving information. CRM systems rely on databases to manage customer information, while ERP utilizes databases to manage production, financials, and overall business operations. Databases provide flexible and reliable data storage capabilities, enabling web and mobile applications to perform interactions and access information quickly and efficiently.

Security and Data Management

Databases ensure the integrity and security of critical information through security measures such as user authentication, data encryption, and authorization management. Regular data backups and establishing data recovery strategies are also implemented to ensure data recovery capability after incidents. Activity logging systems are also applied to monitor and detect suspicious activities on the database.

Databases are not merely repositories of data but also crucial support centers for application development, creating information services, and managing critical information for organizations and enterprises.

3. Types of Databases

3.1. Relational Database

A Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) is a data storage system organized into tables with relationships between them through primary and foreign keys. This is the most common type of database in the world of information technology. In an RDBMS, data is organized into tables, with each table representing a different entity or object. Rows in the table represent specific data items, while columns represent attributes or fields of information. The relationship between tables is determined through primary keys and foreign keys. A primary key is a column or set of columns that uniquely identify each row in a table, while a foreign key is a column or set of columns in one table that refers to the primary key in another table.

MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle are among the popular relational database management systems (RDBMS), each with unique features and widely used across various applications, from personal projects to large enterprises. SQL (Structured Query Language) is commonly used to query, insert, modify, and delete data from relational databases. SQL provides commands such as SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE to perform operations on data. The practical applications of relational databases are diverse. For example, a retail management system may utilize a relational database to store information about products, customer orders, customer details, and inventory management. In the banking sector, relational databases are used to store information about bank accounts, transactions, and personal financial histories.

3.2. Non-relational Database

A Non-relational Database, also known as NoSQL, is a data storage system that does not adhere to the traditional relational model. This is often the choice when storing data with complex structures, heterogeneous data, or when scalability is needed. Unlike relational databases, NoSQL does not require a fixed schema and is often used for large-scale web applications or storing diverse data such as user data, sensor data, and multimedia data. In non-relational databases, data is typically organized into key-value pairs, columns (column-family), documents, or graphs, depending on the specific type of database. This allows for flexible structured data storage and easy scalability according to the application’s needs.

For example, MongoDB is a popular document database in the NoSQL realm. It stores data in flexible JSON documents, eliminating the need for a fixed schema, thus facilitating easier changes to data structure. Cassandra, a column-family database, is suitable for storing and efficiently accessing columnar data in systems with large data volumes. Redis, a key-value database, is often used for caching data or managing session data in high-performance web applications.

The practical applications of non-relational databases are diverse. For instance, in social networking or social media applications where storing user information, user relationships, posts, images, and videos are necessary, non-relational databases like MongoDB prove to be very useful. In the field of IoT (Internet of Things), where large volumes of sensor data need to be stored and processed rapidly, Cassandra is commonly employed. Each type of non-relational database has its advantages and specific applications in different situations, catering to the diverse needs of modern applications.

3.3. Other Types of Databases

In addition to the two main types of databases mentioned above, there are several other database types designed to address specific data storage and retrieval needs:

  • Graph Database: Used to store data with complex relationships, especially in social networks, networks, or structured graph data. Neo4j is a popular graph database management system with the ability to handle complex relationships between objects.
  • Document Store: Stores data in flexible structured documents such as JSON or XML. Suitable for applications requiring flexible, non-fixed data storage. A real-world example of a Document Store is Couchbase, widely used for storing diverse data such as user information, providing support for heterogeneous data, and easy scalability.

The real-world applications of these types of databases depend on the characteristics of the data and the specific requirements of the application. For example, in the field of network analysis in scientific research, Graph Databases are used to analyze relationships between complex factors. In user interface applications, Document Stores are applied to store user information flexibly and with heterogeneous structure. The choice between these types of databases often depends on the nature and specific needs of the data and the application.

4. Introduction to Structured Query Language (SQL)

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language used to manage and interact with relational databases. It is utilized to perform operations such as querying, updating, deleting, and inserting data into relational databases. SQL enables users to execute commands to query data from databases to retrieve necessary information, as well as perform operations to update, delete, or insert new data into the database.

This language has specific syntax, including commands such as SELECT (to query data), INSERT (to add new data), UPDATE (to update data), DELETE (to delete data), and other database control statements like CREATE, ALTER, DROP to manage the structure of the database. SQL is not only used in popular database management systems such as MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server, Oracle but also serves as a widely adopted standard language in the fields of information technology and database management.

Basic SQL Query Commands

SQL is the standard language used to query and manage relational databases. The basic commands in SQL include:

  • CREATE: Used to create a new database, table, or other objects in the database.
  • ALTER: Allows for modifying the structure of objects in the database such as adding columns, dropping columns, changing data types, etc.
  • DROP: Deletes objects in the database such as tables, indexes, or even the entire database.
  • SELECT: Used to retrieve data from the database.
  • INSERT: Inserts new data into the database.
  • UPDATE: Updates existing data in the database.
  • DELETE: Deletes data from the database.


  • SELECT: This command is used to retrieve data from the database. The basic syntax is SELECT * FROM table_name to retrieve all data from the table.
  • INSERT: This command is used to add new data into the database. For example: INSERT INTO table_name (column1, column2, …) VALUES (value1, value2, …).
  • UPDATE: It is used to update existing data in the database. For example: UPDATE table_name SET column1 = value1 WHERE condition.
  • DELETE: Deletes data from the database. The basic syntax is DELETE FROM table_name WHERE condition.

Advanced Query Requirements: JOINs, Functions, Stored Procedures

  • JOINs: Used to combine data from multiple tables in the same query. Types of JOINs include INNER JOIN, LEFT JOIN, RIGHT JOIN, and FULL JOIN.
  • Functions: SQL provides various built-in functions to perform operations on data such as mathematical functions, string functions, date functions, etc.
  • Stored Procedures: A block of SQL code stored in the database, which can be called and executed from applications. They help optimize and reuse SQL code.

These advanced commands and capabilities in SQL provide flexibility and power in querying, updating, and managing data in relational databases.

5. Database management

5.1. Data Backup and Restore

Data backup and restore are crucial processes to ensure the safety and recoverability of data in case of incidents.


Data backup is an integral part of database management, ensuring that the latest version of data is securely stored and recoverable when needed. This is often done through the use of integrated backup tools or external solutions, with scheduled backup routines such as daily or weekly backups. Backed-up data is usually stored in multiple locations to ensure safety, and regular checks as well as data recovery procedures are performed to ensure data readiness in case of incidents. Diversification of storage locations and regular backup checks play important roles in maintaining data integrity and recoverability.


The data restoration process is critical for returning data from backups when necessary due to incidents or data loss. This ensures the ability to recreate original data from the backups that have been created. Regular checks and testing of data restoration are important to ensure this process operates reliably and can reconstruct data as expected when needed. System administrators and database management teams need to establish and maintain a reliable restore process, regularly testing and performing data restoration checks to ensure readiness and the ability to safely restore data in necessary situations.

5.2. Database Security

Database security is a critical factor in protecting sensitive information and preventing unauthorized access. Measures to secure databases include:

Access control management

Identifying and managing access to the database based on user roles and levels of access. Database Management Systems (DBMS) typically provide flexible access control mechanisms, allowing for the identification of specific users, user groups, or roles to control access to data.

Data encryption

Using encryption to protect sensitive information when stored or transmitted. By converting data into an unreadable format without the decryption key, encryption safeguards information from unauthorized access, even if the data is compromised.

Security checks

Conducting regular security checks, audit logs to detect and prevent threatening activities. Detailed logging systems record access activities, and database management systems perform regular checks to monitor suspicious events, unauthorized access attempts, or unauthorized data changes.

5.3. Database Management and Performance Optimization

Performance Management

Ensuring the stable and efficient operation of the database. This includes monitoring and evaluating performance, fine-tuning database structures, and addressing load-related issues.

Query Optimization

Utilizing indexing, optimizing queries, and implementing other optimization measures to enhance the performance of the database.

Upgrades and Scaling

Meeting the system’s growth demands by scaling the database in terms of capacity, enhancing performance, or deploying redundancy solutions.

Database management involves not only maintaining data integrity but also ensuring high security and performance during usage and development.

6. Applications of Databases in Life


Databases are used in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to organize and manage information regarding products, customers, orders, and finances.


In the healthcare sector, databases are utilized to store patient records, test results, medication information, and other medical data. Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems rely on databases to provide accurate and easily accessible information.


In education, databases are used to manage information about students, academic performance, teaching schedules, and other administrative aspects of schools or online learning systems.

Banking and Finance

Databases play a crucial role in managing customer information, financial transactions, asset data, and information related to risk and financial analysis.

Some Famous Database Systems

  • Oracle Database: One of the leading relational database systems widely used in enterprises and large organizations.
  • MySQL: A popular open-source relational database system used for web applications and small to medium-sized enterprises.
  • MongoDB: One of the top non-relational database systems, used for storing flexible, schema-less, and diverse data in large-scale web applications.
  • Microsoft SQL Server: Microsoft’s relational database system widely used in enterprise environments and information systems.

These database systems play crucial roles in managing information, providing data for applications, and ensuring integrity and security for organizational and user data.