Excel Tip

Databases

Spreadsheets

Excel is a spreadsheet program not a database it does math very well. It can give you statistics and make wonderful graphics based on the math involved but if you want to track inventory or a myriad of other things use a database. 

A database is harder to create and is based in some of the same ideas as a spreadsheet. In fact some databases have a datasheet view for inputting data. Sometimes the datasheet view is easier to use than the interface created and other times it’s not efficient. A database is made up of many tables with headings and then interlinked via the graphic user interface or GUI. The best part about a database is that you can use it to search for one piece of information and it looks through everything to find it. A spreadsheet is a bit more limited in this regard.

A spreadsheet is great for doing math and tracking statistics or keeping a list of information that can be used in many ways such as mail merges, not that a database can’t handle tracking mail merge data too, spreadsheets are more commonly used for small lists and are easier to manage, review and update. You can link spreadsheets and databases together and databases can export in spreadsheet format while spreadsheets can be imported into a database with the right setup.

Both tools have their pros and cons and it truly depends on what your project is. A website absolutely must be run with a database but it can also be updated with a spreadsheet.

My final take:

  • Small projects and tracking tools use a spreadsheet
  • Large projects and a need to search and find data use a database
  • Medium projects head to a database as soon as possible!

What are your thoughts on this?

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