Every business needs to be able to keep track of its finances. Maintaining a database doesn’t have to be expensive; here are some of the best free database software programs for your needs.
Your business won’t survive long if you aren’t able to keep things organized. Before computers, you would have to list inventory, expenses, payroll, and other financial aspects of your business on paper. You also had to do the math yourself, and as a human, you could make mistakes in your calculations or write entries down incorrectly. This is where computers come in handy,
We’ve compiled a list of the best free database software for your business needs. You don’t need a big-name service that costs hundreds of dollars; plenty of free alternatives exist online, some of which have more functionality than others.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about database software.
What is Database Software?
Database software is a virtual spreadsheet in which you can track various types of data, including expenses, revenue, shipment dates, orders, billing, and more. Most spreadsheet software lets you use mathematical formulas derived from data in individual cells to produce a report for easy viewing of specific types of data.
What Does Database Software Do?
Database software is meant for maintaining records and cross-referencing them. You can search by using different types of data to get the results you need, as well as organized by various parameters like date added, alphabetical order, ascending/descending price, and others. Not all database software requires rigid data types.
Some of them, such as MongoDB, use more abstract or graphics-based data like map points to track location-based data.
How Does Software Work?
Databases store data in one of three locations:
- Physical media directly connected to the computer
- A network server
- The Internet, or cloud
Where Can You Buy Data Software?
We’re focusing on free-to-use software in this article, and software can be downloaded directly from the developers’ website. However, if you want to save money, free alternative programs exist.
How We Review
We do our best to provide a list of the most effective software. We’ve researched the functionality, pros, and cons of each by looking at software reviews, specifications, and lists of what each program can do. Also, we look at security and reliability. This includes the backup measures each database offers to the consumer.
With that said, here is our rundown of the five best pieces of software for your business needs.
PostgreSQL is a powerful database suite that has been around since the early 2000s. It is open-source, allowing developers of all skill levels to edit the software and redistribute it under a creative license. The product has been released and ported to all major operating systems, including Windows, Mac OSX, and some distributions of Linux.
PostgreSQL has a versatile, friendly GUI that allows users to see what they are doing quickly. It also updates in real time and synchronizes with any offline backup Internet connection, making it less likely that there will be data loss.
PostgreSQL seems to have a stable, user-friendly interface, and it connects to the Internet to automatically refresh whenever the database is brought online. This makes it easy to synchronize with any updates performed on any node. You can also perform active recovery of lost databases because it makes periodic backups.
Although it’s powerful for free software, some users report slow startup time when the database gets too large. There also is no official support page or technical manual for the software, but it is open-source software. You’ll have to speak to community members if you want help on a specific issue.
Firebird has been around since 2000, and it advertises itself as having some of the broadest support on the market. Where many databases software packages work only with one or two operating systems, Firebird has a number of them.
Firebird offers full support for stored procedures like data formulas and search parameters. It performs automatic asynchronous backups across different servers to protect against data being lost in the event of a power outage or other natural disaster. One of the most prominent features of this software suite is the ability to support multiple generations of hardware.
Firebird is primarily server-based database software that offers support for a wide range of products, including Windows, Linux, Solaris, Unix, and other software. However, it can also go without a server and be implemented on a small local network. As such, it scales well.
Unlike PostgreSQL, Firebird does not support partitioning tables through different hard drives. In the event of a catastrophic drive failure or if the database gets too large, partitioning is necessary for the software to continue functioning. Also, if you rely on XML for your development language, you’ll want to look elsewhere because it is not supported with Firebird.
MariaDB is among the best free database software for small and large businesses. In addition to its scalability, it also incorporates some of the tightest MySQL security protocols, making sure that your information in the database is secure. MariaDB was developed by some of the minds behind the MySQL language and was made with that functionality in mind.
MariaDB is open-source, which makes it a reliable alternative to MySQL and similar programs because more ideas for development can be introduced. In addition to the standard database features such as formatting text and numbers, MariaDB also allows for specialized data input when given the proper protocols.
MariaDB works well at virtually any scale from what we researched, making it an excellent choice for both large and small businesses. The development team also employs security engineers who watch for flaws and loopholes and take immediate steps to correct the problem, so your data is secure.
While MariaDB is scalable and powerful, it achieves its speed by doing away with Memcached server access. Memcaching refers to storing a version of the file in RAM for easier access without having to reread the drive. Aside from this, it’s one of the most robust programs we’ve looked at for our article.
MongoDB is an odd one in the bunch. In addition to its speed and flexibility, MongoDB has seen more use recently as a database connected to seemingly unconnected data from sources you might not otherwise consider. It focuses on mobile devices and the Internet of Things. Because this data is unstructured, it can be hard to read.
MongoDB has a unique algorithm that lends itself well to disorganized data. One of its main strengths is the ability to store and use information based on location because it has builtin spatial recognition coding. In turn, this makes it ideal as a database tied into a mobile app, because people are always on the go with their cell phones, which track locations.
MongoDB uses document data storage formats, which makes it a powerful, flexible tool. There are also multiple ways to store it. In a few of the other databases that we reviewed, we didn’t notice cloud capability listed as a prominent feature, but MongoDB has some variations that allow cloud-based service and backup.
MongoDB isn’t as fast as some of the software we’ve listed, such as MariaDB. Another disadvantage Mongo has is that users reported that it halted transfers that took over 60 seconds to complete. In other words, if you want to update a lot of documents at once, you should do so with the load split across multiple nodes.
Created by open-source software giant Apache, CouchDB is another product to look into using as an alternative to MySQL. CouchDB makes use of multiple operating systems. You can find versions of it suitable for download on Windows, Linux, MacOSX, Android, and iOS, This makes CouchDB one of the most widespread models we reviewed, though it has less of a following.
CouchDB is one of the only databases that uses JSON Web-based format as its native language., which makes it ideal for clients to access it through a standard Web interface. As such, clients that have access to their data can edit it as necessary.
Following from the previous statement, the APO developer toolkit that comes with the database can easily keep a watch for recent changes. This way, you instantly know if something has been altered in the database and correct any discrepancy. Also, as we mentioned, the Web-based display makes the database accessible to all parties rather than needing another program to do so.
Because CouchDB is a relative unknown, it can be hard to get support for it. Also, as a business owner, it might be hard to find employees that know how to use and manage CouchDB. Documentation does exist, but only the basics. Some of the functions you have to figure out on your own unless you read Apache’s website tutorials. This puts CouchDB a little below others.
- Rating: 4 stars
- Operating System Support: Windows, Mac OSX, some versions of Linux
- Updates: Real-time
- Security: Native SSL support
- Difficulty: Beginner to moderate level
- Best Use: Analytical and mathematical operations
- Rating: 4 stars
- Best Operating Systems: Windows Server, Mac OSX, Unix, Solaris, Linux
- Updates: Asynchronous Real-time updates
- Security: SRP as of Firebird 3
- Difficulty: Beginner
- Best Use: Small businesses
- Rating: 4 stars
- Best Operating Systems: Linux is best, though Windows is supported
- Updates: Asynchronous from MySQL
- Security: TLS (Transport Layer Security) and SSL (Secure Socket Layer)
- Difficulty: Intermediate
- Best Use: Multiple
- Rating: 3 stars
- Best Operating Systems: Windows Server is supported, but Linux works more quickly
- Updates: One document at a time
- Difficulty: Intermediate to advanced
- Best Use: Map and location data
- Rating: 3 stars
- Best Operating Systems: Amazon Linux, CentOS, Debian, Windows Server
- Updates: Uses JSON Web files
- Security: Query Server protocol
- Difficulty: Advanced, and is a relatively new program
- Best Use: Web-based applications
Based on the research that we’ve conducted and the analysis we read on the strengths of database software, we have to say that MariaDB is probably your best bet. If you’re familiar with how MySQL works, you know how MariaDB works. You may not get as many frills out of it as some other programs, but it’s solid.
MariaDB has no glaring weaknesses other than its lack of speed when you’re trying to process extensive updates at once. By splitting your updates into smaller, more manageable pieces, you’ll be able to overcome this weakness in the software easily.
MariaDB is some of the best free data software for your business. Be sure to download the appropriate support documentation and seek help from the forums on the website if necessary.
Getting the Most Out of Your Database Software
When you use database software, you should always have multiple servers or nodes that contain identical backups of your data. Synchronize them periodically with a network update or by using the cloud. This way, should one of the nodes fail you don’t lose all your data. Schedule regular backups, and label each iteration of the file.
When picking out the best free database software, one of the essential qualities is its ability to scale. In other words, can you take the same database and access it as freely and quickly on a hundred computers as opposed to ten? If you have a growing business, you’ll need to consider that you have more clients and more information with which you need to deal.
All of the databases we review in this piece were described as highly scalable by experts. Also, each of them is free, so you don’t have to worry about wasting money on software you don’t use. Before implementing data software for your company, read about it and test it out to get an idea of how you would navigate it.