Uses of databases

Databases are very powerful tools used in all areas of computing. It is a key computing skill to be able to organise data, create databases and control data using query languages.

One of the main benefits of computer databases is that they make it easy to store information so it is quick and easy to find. For example, if you have music files on your computer, a media application like iTunes, Windows Media Player or Google Music organises that data so it is easy for you to quickly search for the artist or songs you want.

Most websites use databases to store data. Social networking sites use databases to store data about millions of users, along with photographs and other information about themselves and others.

Sport teams use data in performance analysis. Players and managers can use data to monitor levels of fitness and learn how to improve their skills.

BBC's Simon Lumb explains how most websites, such as the iPlayer, rely on databases

Databases are also used to store data about weather patterns - which can then be used with software models to predict future events. Even data from internet search terms can be useful. For example, the Google Analytics database helped to successfully predict flu outbreaks around the world.

Database software

Database software includes off-the-shelf software such as Microsoft Access, Libre Office Base, Oracle, MySQL or NoSQL.

Databases can also be created and organised using programming languages. Languages like SQL, Visual Basic and Delphi are used to edit databases. Using programming languages means that you can customise a database to do exactly as you want.