The database is responsible for powering any application we use. It can be a social media website or even a creepy hacker on the internet prying on your personal and financial information.
Today, most companies need some form of a database; however, it’s not as simple to find the best one that will actually suit one’s preferences, especially if you are a newbie.
Database software, or DBMS, not only differs in terms of type and purpose but also with respect to price as well. While many are free to use, paid ones are also available. Usually, free databases are more appealing to small businesses or app developers. Full-fledged businesses, however, prefer premium, paid ones.
Let’s first know more about databases, their uses, and then, the top 10 free and open-source databases.
What is Database?
A database is a collection of data that is stored and accessed through a computer. It supports the storage and organization of information. If databases are more complex, they are developed using modeling techniques as well as formal design.
Databases are usually managed by a Database Management Systems (DBMS), which is the software responsible for managing the interaction of databases with applications, end-users, as well as among the databases for analyzing and organizing data, and other purposes. DBMS also includes the core facilities for administering the database.
Data within a relational database is usually structured in rows and columns in tables, which results in efficient processing and data querying.
Non-relational databases, however, discard the usual tabular schema of columns and rows for an optimized storage model that is specific to the type of data stored. The following section details the various types of database management systems.
Types of Databases
1. Relational database
In this type of database, data is arranged in a set of tables with rows and columns. It is the most flexible and efficient way of accessing information.
2. Distributed database
This type of database comprises two or more files kept in various sites. The database can be stored on multiple computers located in similar locations or dispersed over various networks.
3. Graph database
When the data is stored in the form of entities and the relationship between these entities, it is known as a Graph database.
4. Object-oriented database
In these databases, information or data is stored in the form of objects as that of object-oriented programming.
5. NoSQL database
This is also called a non-relational database. It facilitates the storage and manipulation of semi-structured or unstructured data. These kinds of databases became popular as web applications got more common and even more complicated. Another reason for the rise in popularity of NoSQL databases is the emergence of Big Data.
6. Data warehouse
These databases are mainly designed for quick query and analysis and work as a central archive for storing data and information.
7. OLTP database
It is a fast, analytic database mainly built for carrying out huge numbers of transactions by several users.
10 Free Database Management Systems
A relational database, Microsoft SQL Server, has been here since 1989 and is used by some of the most popular companies to the likes of Dell, Yahoo, and NASDAQ.
Developed by Microsoft, the relational database management system supports ANSI SQL – the standard SQL (Structured Query Language) language. SQL Server, however, has its implementation of the SQL language, i.e., T-SQL or Transact–SQL.
- You get management tools, development tools, Azure backup as well as restore.
- Offers performance, scalability, and availability for intelligent applications, data lakes, and data warehouses.
- Supported platforms include Amazon EC2, Ubuntu, Docker Engine, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server.
- Facilitates the integration of unstructured and structured information.
- The security features it offers are quite advanced.
- Offers a free ‘express’ version for developing smaller applications that can host up to 10 GB of data.
- You can make a better and quicker decision with interactive Power BI reports.
Microsoft SQL Server is fast and has a simple graphical interface with different kinds of connectors and connections.
It is open-source database software that has been in the market for 2 decades. This database management system supports SQL for relational as well as JSON for non-relational data management.
ADP, Cisco, and Fujitsu are a few of the giant corporations that are powered by PostgreSQL. PostgreSQL is backed by an expert group of developers who have tremendously contributed, and are still working, to make it the reliable database management system it is.
- Compatible with several platforms with support for most popular languages like PL/Tcl, PL/pgSQL, PL/Python, and PL/Perl.
- It has server-side programming functionality along with high availability and a standby server.
- The locking mechanism is quite sophisticated. Also, it offers trigger-based and log-based replication SSL.
- Supports client-server network architecture and multiple concurrency control.
- As it is open-sourced, allows users to easily change code as per their specific requirements.
- Facilitates nested transactions, table inheritance as well as asynchronous replication.
- You can also link it with various data stores such as NoSQL that works as a federated hub for polyglot databases.
It is a great data management software that allows creating custom data types and different query methods while also allowing the user to run a stored procedure in various programming languages.
An open-source relational database management tool, MySQL has been in the business for a good 25+ years. Though it is a free database management system, there are many more GUIs as well as command-line tools for controlling, accessing, and managing it.
- Can easily run on any platform and operating system you can imagine.
- Comes in various editions, such as Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Classic Edition with different features for each of them.
- Offers features like scalability and flexibility. Also offers a pluggable storage engine, partitioning, and replication along with connectors.
- You also get a web and data warehouse facility.
- Features robust transactional support along with high and reliable performance.
- Works on apps like Facebook, Uber, and WordPress.
- Offers an Oracle MySQL Cloud Service, which is quite cost-effective for enterprise-grade database service.
- Runs on a client-server architecture and supports languages like Java, C++, Python, C, PHP, Perl, and TCL.
- Besides, the tool also supports replications, Unicode, Transactions, triggers, full-text search, and stored procedures.
All in all, MySQL is a mature software that can be used by high-volume websites and business-critical systems. It has host-based verification and even works if the network is unavailable.
MongoDB is a free document database having over 30 million downloads. It was launched in 2009. Used by huge firms like Forbes, Expedia, and MetLife, this DBMS offers high-volume data storage.
It is an open-source database software following a document data model. MongoDB is especially used for building new applications and updating the old ones. It works for real-time analytics and mobile apps while providing a real-time view of all the information.
- Offers fully automated scale provision and helps in managing quite complex multi-node clusters through API calls.
- You have total deployment flexibility during data migrations.
- Allows easy creation of distributed clusters and restoration of data whenever needed.
- With it, the user can visualize, monitor, and keep a check on more than 80 metrics that help in tracking the cluster’s health.
- With a strong query language, MongoDB stores data in JSON-like documents in a relational database.
- Offers a global cloud base called MongoDB Atlas.
- Works with a variety of languages, including Java, C++, and Python.
- Another set of core features include ad hoc querying, indexing as well as highly-available data replication.
Though MongoDB allows validating the document along with an encrypted storage engine, it does not work for highly complex transactions.
Developed by Apache, CouchDB is an open-source database that offers a huge storage for your important data. It is a little older than MongoDB and was launched in 2005. Sophos, BBC, and Canonical are few big companies using this database software.
CouchDB stores information on the user’s server or with a popular service provider of your choice. While CouchDB is for servers, PouchDB is for mobile and desktop browsers. PouchDB uses the replication protocol, which works well for mobile applications.
- A few of its core features include offline editing, ACID Semantics, along with a segregated architecture ideal for data replication.
- Lets you run a logical database server on any virtual machine.
- Works with various external tools, such as HTTP, load balancers, and proxy servers.
- Also supports session and authentication along with binary data.
- Allows the user to save data redundantly.
CouchDB is a scalable solution to all your database needs while it also offers flexibility for data storage. It is more than a database as it, practically, works like a website framework.
OrientDB is a multi-model, open-source database management system that works great for companies that aim to unlock graph databases without using multiple systems to deal with other types of data.
It is relatively younger database software that supports document, object-oriented, and key-value database models besides graph databases. It is the third-highest rated database on the G2 Crowd website. Supported platforms are macOS, Linux, Solaris, Windows, and HP-UX.
- Allows graph editing, facilitating simple visual data manipulation.
- Focuses on scalability and superb performance and offers a unified multi-model API for faster deployment.
- Supports the Gremlin querying/programming language.
- Besides supporting SQL, also offers features like ACID transactions, JSON libraries, along with well-distributed cluster configuration.
- Provides TinkerPop 3 that facilitates fast and efficient upgrades.
- Java, Python, C, Ruby, PHP, and Perl are some of the supported programming languages.
- Comes with a better query planner.
OrientDB is great database software that enables multi-master replication, automation of distributed transactions and queries while sharing data with clusters. The user can write modules and report issues or complaints to OrientDB projects and get those resolved with quick and friendly customer support.
Launched in 2008, Cassandra is yet another NoSQL database management system developed by Apache. It is believed to be one of the most scalable options available out there.
The scalability feature signifies that Cassandra can manage data across several commodity servers. The NoSQL database was built at Facebook as an open-source project with Google code.
- Supports Python, SQL, C++, Go, and NodeJS.
- It can replicate across multiple data centers.
- Supports services and contracts from various third parties.
- The data/information is copied to several nodes to offer a fault-tolerant system.
- You can choose between synchronous and asynchronous replication during the update.
- Each node in the cluster is separate without any network restrictions.
- Other notable features of this database software are decentralized structure and adjustable consistency to avoid any failures.
Besides being easy to install, Cassandra is perfect for those who don’t wish to compromise on scalability and performance. It can be used for a wide selection of uses, ranging from managing API metadata to clustering packages. It offers satisfactory speed and reliability, though many users have pointed out that it doesn’t work well with small datasets.
A non-relational document database by Amazon, DynamoDB is perfect for in-built security as well as in-memory caching while providing consistent latency. It is totally managed by Amazon Web Services as part of their cloud products.
One thing you must know is that this database software is not completely free-of-cost; however, it offers a free version with limited features.
DynamoDB allows applications to manage around 200 million requests a month, 2.5 million read requests a month from DynamoDB Streams while storing 25GB of data. In case you exceed the usage of the free version, you will be required to pay for the difference.
- This is a serverless database that automatically scales and keeps a backup of data for security purposes.
- Provides secondary indexes that give flexibility to queries.
- Uses the key-value method for storing the data and can be used on any scale.
- Offers Amazon DynamoDB Accelerator.
- Has several uses like gaming, IoT, mobile apps as well as microservices.
- Offers built-in security and is a multi-region and multi-caster database.
- Can integrate with AWS Lambda to offer triggers.
DynamoDB is a popular document database management software that helps in developing software applications.
An open-source database solution, Firebird allows the building of interoperable applications that can work in hybrid and homogeneous environments. It runs on platforms like Windows, macOS, HP-UX, Linux, and Solaris.
- Facilitates building a custom version and supports languages like C/C++ and COBOL.
- It has multi-generational architecture and supports OLAP and OLTP applications.
- You can download, register and deploy this database software free of cost.
- It even supports stored procedures as well as Triggers.
- Comes with an improved multi-platform RDBMS.
- With it, you can do real-time monitoring, audit as well as SQL debugging.
- Allows online dump, online backup, and incremental backup.
- You can also avail a variety of funding options, ranging from memberships to sponsorships.
Firebird is entirely free, which makes it a good option for educational and commercial purposes. It also offers Windows trusted authentication. Besides having development-friendly language support, it also comes in 4 types of architectures:
- super classic,
- Embedded, and
However, Firebird doesn’t come with temporary tables and integration with other database software.
Neo4J is another open-source graph database software that was released in 2007. It is implemented in the Java programming language and uses Cypher as a query language.
Neo4J saves the data in graphs rather than tables. While its core mostly consists of graph databases, it also provides extra products for developing data.
- Supports transactional applications and graph analytics.
- The core features include online backup, high availability, and ‘whiteboard friendly data modeling.
- Offers non-stop time traversals in a relationship in a graph in terms of breadth and depth due to double-linking on the storage level between the node and the relationship.
- The relationship it offers is fast and facilitates materializing and utilization of new relationships to shorten and fasten the domain data if there is a new requirement.
- Facilitates memory caching for graphs that offers compact storage leading to improved scaling.
Neo4J is highly useful due to its open-source nature. It facilitates unlocking the business value of different connections, data relationships as well as influences via new applications. It is mostly appreciated by small businesses due to its lightweight build and simplicity.
We hope the above information has guided you well and helps you select the perfect database software as per your business preferences. As all the database management systems mentioned above are explained in detail, you can compare them easily and find the one that works best for you.
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