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Structured & Unstructured Databases - What's the Difference?


There are many different types of databases that house varying types of data. Their utility depends on the individual or entity that is trying to access them. 

From a high level we’re going to juxtapose structured and unstructured databases. 

Structured Databases

A structured or relational database houses structured data (meaning here that the data is all in the same format). You often see these in finance and healthcare. 

For example, in a structured database you may find social security numbers, dates and addresses. 

They are easily searchable and will return exactly what you want. In the UI of your structured database, in your search bar you may type in the query, “social security numbers”, the structured database will return you an organized list of the numbers. 

Unstructured Databases 

Unstructured databases are as the name suggests, just the opposite of a structured database. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two are the types of data they deal in. For example, in a structured (or relational) database you’ll have one social security number or date of birth that corresponds to an individual. But an unstructured database can house data in multiple forms tied to one entity. 

A good example of an unstructured database is searching on iTunes. If you input the name of an artist in the search bar on iTunes you’ll get results back ranging from music to podcasts and videos. You may even see results for album art. 

Now of course in the above example, you can set parameters to narrow your search results, however the point remains the same. When you’re working with an unstructured database you’re most likely dealing with multimedia which is not organized rather than granular numbers and statistics which is organized. 

In Sum 

There are advantages and disadvantages to the various types of databases. However in terms of structured and unstructured, they exist and perform well within their own spaces. 

A structured database storing unstructured data like multimedia files would be chaos. By the same note, multimedia files in a structured database would be slow to navigate, finding the results you want would take too much time. 

Make sure that for what you’re trying to accomplish you pick the right database for you and your organization, your productivity depends on it! 

Vendita and Your Databases

Vendita can help your organization to better manage and organize your databases no matter what type you have! To learn more about what we can do for your database environment, contact us here!

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