The key difference between filesystem and database is that filesystem manages only the physical access while database manages both the physical and logical access to the data.
Database and File System are two methods that help to store, retrieve, manage and manipulate data. Both systems allow the user to work with data similarly. A File System is a collection of raw data files stored in the hard-drive, whereas a database is intended for easily organizing, storing and retrieving large amounts of data. In other words, a database holds a bundle of organized data typically in a digital form for one or more users. The abbreviation from the database is DB. It is possible to classify DB according to their content, such as document-text, bibliographic and statistical. It is important to note that, even in a database, data is eventually or physically stored in some files.
What is Filesystem?
As mentioned above, a typical File System stores electronic data in a set of files. If a file consists of only one file, then it is a flat file. They contain values in each row separated with a special delimiter like commas. In order to query some random data, first, it is necessary to parse each row and load it to an array at runtime. To achieve this, the file should be read sequentially because there is no control mechanism in files. Therefore, it is quite inefficient and time-consuming.
There are some burdens on the user such as locating the necessary file, going through the records line by line, checking for the existence of a certain data and remembering what files/records to edit. The user either has to perform each task manually or has to write a script that does them automatically with the help of the file management capabilities of the operating system. Because of these reasons, File Systems are easily vulnerable to serious issues like inconsistency, inability to maintain concurrency, data isolation, threats to integrity and lack of security.
What is Database?
A Database may contain different levels of abstraction in its architecture. Typically, the three levels: external, conceptual and internal make up the database architecture. External level defines how the users view the data. A single database can have multiple views. The internal level defines how the data is physically stored. The conceptual level is the communication medium between internal and external levels. It provides a unique view of the database regardless of how it is stored or viewed.
There are several types of databases such as Analytical databases, Data warehouses and Distributed Databases. Databases or to be more precise, relational databases contains tables, and they consist of rows and column, much like spreadsheets in Excel. Each column corresponds to an attribute while each row represents a single record. For example, in a database, which stores employee information of a company, the columns could contain employee name, employee Id and salary, while a single row represents a single employee. Most databases come with a Database Management System (DBMS) that makes it very easy to create, manage and organize data.
What is the Difference Between Filesystem and Database?
The structure of a filesystem is simple whereas the structure of a database is complex. Also, the redundancy in filesystem is high than of a database. The data in a filesystem can be inconsistent. When the data is in multiple places and if it is necessary to do a change, then has to check the entire system to update. In a database, it is only necessary to do one-time updates. Other data will update automatically. Therefore, a database maintains data consistency. Even though most operating systems provide graphical user interfaces; a file system does most tasks such as storing, retrieving and searching manually. But a database provides automated methods to complete these tasks.
Moreover, the data sharing is difficult in a filesystem because the user has to find the location of the file etc. but it is an easy process when using a database. Furthermore, a filesystem is not very secure. Therefore, it can lead to damaging files. On the other hand, using a database is more secure. Unlike a filesystem, a database provides backup and recovery when required.
Summary – Filesystem vs Database
In brief, in a File System, files allow storing data while a database is a collection of organized data. Although File System and databases are two ways of managing data, databases have many advantages over File Systems. File System leads to problems like data integrity, data inconsistency and data security, but a database avoids these issues. Unlike a File System, databases are efficient because reading line by line is not required, and certain control mechanisms are in place. The difference between filesystem and database is that filesystem manages only the physical access while database manages both the physical and logical access to the data.
1.“Database.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 19 May 2018. Available here