Why do we need a Database to store the data when we can use spreadsheets?

Microsoft Excel and Google Docs are spreadsheet applications used for storing information in a tabular format. A Relational Database is a collection of data stored in a tabular form that can be accessed electronically from a computer system. Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle Database, MySQL, and IBM DB2 are examples of relational databases.

Since both the Spreadsheet Applications and Relational Databases store data in a tabular format, hence they are considered to be very similar. However, data between the tables in a relational database are related.

Advantages of Database over Spreadsheet

1 Excel can handle a maximum of one million records. However, the databases can store more than 1 million records. Hence, to store large amounts of raw data, a database is the best option to use.

2 While storing the data in a database, the user is required to specify the data type of a column, and this feature prevents mistakes.
For Example, in a column containing numeric data, if the user tries to enter a string value, then an error message would pop-up, but we don’t have a similar feature in Excel.

3 Spreadsheets lag in terms of its multi-user property. Although Google Docs and the latest versions of Office solve this issue, however, they resolve this issue only partially because the user might face trouble in finding out who modified or deleted the information incorrectly. However, in databases, the change made by a single person is visible instantly to everybody.

4 Databases lead to more Data integrity in comparison to a spreadsheet. For Example, if a customer named Kunal Chugh has changed his email address.
In case we are using a spreadsheet flooded with transaction data of customers at the point of sale. There can be a case where the user changed the email address in the spreadsheet only once and accidentally missed updating the email address of Kunal Chugh at other transaction records, therefore leading to data inconsistencies. But, in the case of a relational database, the user will make a change in the email address only once in the customer information table and not the transactions table. However, we can also create separate worksheets containing customer data and transaction data and then later use these worksheets to establish relations. Unlike a database, these relations would be logically limited. Moreover, it is more efficient to set relations between tables which, increases the speed of manipulating the data.

Disadvantages of Database over Spreadsheet

Unlike Spreadsheet, the database user cannot select a font color or size. Hence, the database doesn’t care about formatting, but it only cares about storing the information.


Since relational databases provide ease of retrieval of information, modification of data, data consistency, data integrity, and more storage of raw data hence it should be opted for storing data in comparison to a spreadsheet.

I am a Data Analyst and Consultant who likes to write articles.

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