Databases and Web Hosting
Even though ‘database’ is a term that website owners and beginners encounter every other day, very few grasp the real meaning of it.
A database can be defined as a structured format that helps in organizing and maintaining large amount of data for easy retrieval. This easily retrieved information thus forms the basis of decision-making.
Please keep in mind that no matter how necessary it may seem, a database and database web hosting is not always required. A database solution has to be justified based on the magnitude of information that your business activities may be generating and the need to organize that information. If all you have is a few names and numbers in your contact list, a database is work overdone. At the same time, if your data is not interrelated, keeping a database would not be very productive.
When designing a database and thinking about database web hosting, it is very important to keep maintenance considerations in mind, otherwise, letting the database go jumbled is not a hard task, and in fact, this is exactly the path of self-destruction followed by many that failed to properly implement their database systems.
For today’s website designers and owners, the task of setting up a database system is quite straightforward, thanks to three popular database platforms: MySQL, MS Access and MS SQL Server. These database products are user-friendly and even those with little technical expertise can start building their databases right away. However, this ease of setting up should not let you stop thinking about the basics of the right database structure.
Let’s take the example of an online store that sells books and stationary. You are the owner and for each customer you have a record of their names, postal addresses, email addresses, items purchased, value of transaction, and their order date. The first question that arises here is whether you need a database or not and the answer very well depends on the total number of sales. If you only have a few sales each month, forget about the database, but if your internet marketing is bearing fruits and you are seeing exponential growth in sales, by all means go for a database system that will not only speed up information retrieval for you, but also make it possible to tackle issues like adding more attributes and dimensions (e.g. books category) in each record etc.
Given the user-friendliness of today’s database tools, all you need at your end is a logical process. And if you are willing to dedicate some time towards this effort, an effective database and database web hosting is not very far from reality. You just need to work out details of how database tables should be organized, what items these tables should contain, etc. To be more precise, whether records like name, postal address, and product details are part of the same table or should be broken into separate tables—one for personal info and a different one for product and pricing details.
You might not get it right the first time, and it’s very important to test your database before fully implementing it and finding a web hosting provider who can support databases. Clearing up any issues that might arise from the beginning will help your database achieve a speedy retrieval as well as productive storage functionality.
Needless to say, once a database enters the equation, things change drastically on the web hosting side. Your web server administrator has new issues to handle, including backing up your database on a more frequent basis. This backup task is pretty important as restoring a database is much more complex than restoring a static html page. Ask your web host if it really has the technical expertise to handle database back-ups and if does it regularly for its customers. You’ll be surprised to know that many web hosting companies have never tested their database backup tools and are simply complacent with the never-needed scenario.
In the end, even though complexities can arise with databases and web hosting, the benefits outweigh the associated cost and effort.