You might not realize it, but database examples are everywhere. Whether or not you know very much about them, their effect on your daily life is extensive. From weather applications to the movies you watch online, databases support nearly every service you use.
To show you just how widespread database usage is, this guide presents a few of the more well-known examples and descriptions of how they enhance your day-to-day life.
But first, what exactly is a database?
What Is a Database?
Whether it’s a hosted, mission-critical, high-availability cluster or a local instance of MongoDB used to store family recipes, a database is simply a set of related data organized in a way that it can be easily stored, accessed, and changed.
Databases underpin nearly every program you use. If a program saves your data in any way (e.g., username and password), you can be sure it's using a database to do so.
How Does a Database Work?
A database can be thought of as a collection of spreadsheets. Each database table (spreadsheet) has something in common with the other tables. (This is why they call it a relational database.)
You might have one table called Customer that has information about a given customer (name, address, customer ID, etc.) and another called Books that has information about books (title, price, ISBN, etc.). You could then have a third table called Sales. This table would have information about a given book sale, such as date and total, but it could be linked to the other tables by customer ID and ISBN.
If your customer moves to a new address, this link means you only have to update the information in the customer table, not in every sales record for every book they've purchased. Similarly, if the price of a book changes, you just need to update the price in the Books table, and that will carry through to all future sales.
In addition to keeping data consistent and easier to manage, you can quickly gather complex information. For example, you could find all of the books one-time customers purchased during the week before Christmas.
Though a human could replicate a database using spreadsheets and index cards, doing so would take an incredible amount of effort and time. Computers can quickly check for database errors and find duplicate entries. Humans cannot.
10 Database Examples You Regularly Use
Here are 10 popular, real-world database examples, from gaming to eCommerce, to show you how versatile databases can be:
Online Video Streaming
Streaming giants like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video use databases to optimize your viewing experience. Whether it's NoSQL for Disney+ content or MySQL for Netflix billing information, databases catalog countless hours of content and monitor your viewing patterns in exacting detail — from what you watch and when to where you pause and what you rewind. This data tracking enables them to personalize recommendations and tailor ads specific to you.
Online and Social Gaming
In the area of online and social gaming, there is a web of interconnected databases. Whether a sweeping MMORPG like World of Warcraft or a simple game of Hearts on Facebook, databases are crucial in shaping online gaming. Databases track your scores, your inventory, and your game state. They also track things like your friends lists, in-game chats and transactions, and your interactions with other players. These databases not only support the game but also enable personalization of the experience players have while playing.
Transitioning to social media, the role of databases becomes even more pervasive. Social media companies track everything about you that they can. Yes, they track your friends and your posts, but they also track your engagement with the content displayed in your feed. Has Facebook noticed you're more likely to comment on posts of puppy pics? Your feed will be more likely to display posts with pictures of cute animals. Do you often comment with an angry tone on posts relating to certain topics? Your feed will have almost nothing but political posts, come November.
You're probably aware that grocery stores use databases to manage inventories, track sales, and personalize coupons based on purchase histories. What you might not be aware of is that large chain grocery stores, like online streaming services, track everything.
From the moment you walk through the door, they’re recording data like which direction you head first, what music is being played through the overhead speakers while you shop, where products are in the store on that particular day, and whether you pay through self-checkout or go to a register (in which case, they record the gender and age of the cashier you chose). And if you have ever used a payment method other than cash, they can tie all of those aspects together and associate them with you, personally.
Personal Cloud Storage
If you save photos or documents to your smartphone or tablet or even just to any online backup solution, you're transferring your data to the cloud, a large, central storage environment where you use just a small portion of dedicated space.
Dropbox, Google Drive, Private Cloud powered by VMware, and iCloud are just some examples of personal cloud storage services available to you. All of them use complex data models and powerful warehouses to ensure your data is stored securely and is available to be called upon at a moment’s notice, regardless of where you are.
Fan participation in national sports doesn’t just utilize the power of the database — it depends on it. From fantasy football to March Madness brackets, the sports industry depends on massive cloud databases to keep track of everything.
Such databases store and analyze player statistics, game performances, injury reports, and more — always calculating the odds of a win on a weekly basis.
From the stock market to your eCommerce business, databases are abundant across the financial world. Everywhere information needs to be saved and reused, a database is involved, whether it’s your checking account or the price of gold at any given moment.
As you can imagine, tracking the vast amount of information behind daily global transactions requires extremely powerful and secure databases. Financial businesses also use models that analyze collected data to predict future activity.
Any online organization that sells on a platform, such as WooCommerce, has to use a database to operate properly. In this case, databases help organize products, pricing, customer information, and purchasing history.
The eCommerce store owner can then leverage their database to recommend other potential products to customers. This data would be stored in highly secure databases, protected by the standards set through PCI Compliance.
Doctors’ offices and healthcare organizations store extensive amounts of patient data for easy accessibility. The databases behind this collection of information are massive, with complex data structures and security protecting sensitive data. All of these organizations have to ensure they comply with HIPAA standards for data management. Healthcare.gov, for example, relies on NoSQL databases to manage their health insurance information.
Predicting the weather across the globe is incredibly complex. Weather organizations use prediction models that depend on various factors — all gathered, stored, and analyzed within databases. These databases allow weather data to be always accessible and easily delivered to your local TV station or smartphone app.
The Weather Company, for example, takes in over 20 terabytes of data per day. The company has used several databases to support this torrent of information, including MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, Cassandra, and more.
Consider Liquid Web Databases, Too!
Liquid Web's VPS Hosting (Virtual Private Servers) and Dedicated Hosting (traditional bare metal servers) solutions are two perfect examples of products running on databases to deliver outstanding value. They are designed specifically for entrepreneurial businesses, developers, freelancers, and digital agencies that need to manage lots of data securely and quickly.
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