A database is a collection of data. Really it is as simple as that.
It could just be a list of names in a text file. It could be a complex set of data in a large relational organized database. A large database will include a set of tools with it to manage the data. In a text file, you can just edit the data in the text file.
Imagine we have a text file. The contents of this file consists of a long list of comma delimited items.
Each line represents a row in a database, and what is in between the commas represent the fields in a database.
Strictly speaking this text file is already a database. You could call this a database table.
If we were to import this text file into a spreadsheet using spreadsheet software, then it would still represent a database table, but it may be a little easier to manage the data. If the number of rows in the spreadsheet went over a few thousand, then it would start to get more difficult to handle the data.
A better option would be to store the data in a database table using specialized database software, such as SQL-Lite or MySQL or even Oracle. If you are using database software, then you can start relating one database table to another database table.
So What’s the big deal?
Is there any advantage between a spreadsheet, and a professional database management system? Both are organized into rows and columns.
For small sets of data a spreadsheet is generally great. However when you start to get thousands or millions of rows of data, then a database management system is better. It is also easier to relate one table to another table in a database management system, then it is in a spreadsheet.
Is the added convenience of a database management system worth the cost of such a system? You can answer such a question by looking at the size of your data and the complexity of your data. Maybe the best way to answer such a question, is to ask yourself if you are able to do what you need to do with the database tables that you have in a spreadsheet. If you can do it easily, then you don’t need a database management system.