What is a database?

A database is a computerised system that makes it easy to search, select and store information. Databases are used in many different places.

Your school might use a database to store information about attendance or to store pupils' and teachers' contact information. A database like this will probably be protected with a password to make sure that people’s personal information is kept safe.

Your library might also use a database to keep track of which books are available and which are on loan.

Record sets and fields

If you owned a sports shop and had lots of different types of equipment you might want to keep a record of them. To do this, you could draw pictures and put them on the wall. You could also store all of the details in a database.

Sports shop database

A database for all the equipment in your sports shop would be made up of a single table with columns and rows.

Every item you put into your database is called a ‘record’. Each record will have its own row with all the information you want to store about it.

The columns of the table are called ‘fields’. For example you might have columns for ‘type of equipment’, ‘cost’, ‘size’ and ‘location’.


You can use the information in the fields to search your database. If you wanted to find all the equipment in the storeroom you could search the ‘location’ column for ‘storeroom’. This search might bring back ten records and those records would be known as a 'record set'.

Databases are a great way to keep track of large amounts of data. With this sports equipment database you could easily check how many rugby balls you have and where they are.

Example database

This database is being used to help organise all the toys in a bedroom! Click on the labels to find out more.

Databases in real life

Click on the buildings to find out how databases are used in real life.

Can you think of any other places where databases are used?

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