Networking / Beginners

What Is a Database?

A database is simply an organized collection of information. Here are some examples of databases from everyday life:

  • Your personal address book
  • The shoebox that contains your tax records for the year
  • Your baseball card collection
  • All those parking tickets conveniently stuffed into your car's glove compartment
  • The phone book
  • That pile of score cards that has been accumulating in the bottom of your golf bag for 15 years

You can think of each of these databases as a collection of records. In database lingo, a record consists of all the useful information that you can gather about a particular thing. In your address book, each record represents one of your friends (or enemies). For your tax records database, each receipt in the shoebox is a record.

Each little snippet of information that makes up a record is called a field. Using the address book as an example once again, each person's record - that is, each entry in your address book - consists of several fields: name, street address, city, state, zip code, phone number, e-mail address, as well as other information that may be optional, such as the person's birthday, whether you sent a Christmas card to the person last year, or how much money the person owes you.

SQL Server is designed to create and manage computerized databases that are similar to these noncomputerized databases. Like your address book or shoebox full of tax records, a SQL Server database is a collection of records, and each record is a collection of fields. The biggest difference is that in a SQL Server database, the information is stored on a server computer's hard drive rather than in a shoe box.

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