A database management system (DBMS) is a tool to store, edit and organise data in a database. It provides several key features:

  • stores data in one central location
  • allows data to be shared by many users
  • provides user interfaces to work with the data
  • creates backups
  • controls who can access and edit the data

Benefits of a DBMS

The benefits of a DBMS include:

  • integrity - the structure of the database can change, but the applications using the data do not need to be changed
  • efficiency - avoids data duplication and inconsistency, and less storage space is taken up because data is shared
  • consistency - data is the same, regardless of who is viewing it
  • backups - it is easy to back up data from one location
  • security - the data is in a secure central place and different access rights can be assigned to different people
  • customisation - applications can be customised to suit the needs of the user

An important part of a DBMS is separating applications from the data. When people use the applications they call on the data they need to work on. They do not need to use all the data every time they use the database.

A database in a DBMS could be viewed by lots of different people with different responsibilities.

Flowchart showing how a Database Management System works in an office

For example, within a company there are different departments, as well as customers, who each need to see different kinds of data. Each employee in the company will have different levels of access to the database with their own customised front-end application.