Whether you’re a marketer or software developer, you've probably heard of “database”.
A database is a component of any computer system that stores and organizes data in a convenient form. The concept of database software isn’t hard to grasp as we all use databases consistently.
Imagine an Excel spreadsheet: it's a collection of data organized into columns and rows. A database operates similarly but usually on a larger scale across many interconnected computers and with more complex forms of data.
But getting your hands on the best database software can be challenging. There are numerous options available, and deciding which one is right for you isn't exactly easy.
When choosing database software, there is no "this tool is better than that". What you pick depends on your business requirements.
You need to consider several factors, especially when deciding on database software to develop applications. This includes asking the right questions about a software’s capabilities, ensuring whether to invest in learning a new database and figuring out what you want to achieve with your applications.
If you don't want to pay, there are plenty of free database solutions divided into two main groups: relational and non-relational databases. But, if you haven’t decided on the database software (paid or free) you want to use, here are a few things to consider:
A relational database is an organized collection of data elements linked together by predefined associations. These elements are arranged in a series of tables with rows and columns.
Relational database software helps businesses draw meaningful information via linked tables. Users can easily comprehend the patterns and connections or how the tables are related.
The list below contains real-user reviews of the best free relational database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, an application needs to be free and:
*This list is based on G2 data collected on April 21, 2022. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.
IBM Db2 is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that efficiently stores, analyzes, and retrieves data. Companies of all sizes use Db2 for transactional and analytical processes as it offers continuous data availability to keep these processes running smoothly.
Db2 also supports numerous NoSQL features, such as XML, graph store, and JSON.
"I mostly work on Java applications working on WebSphere, and the integration of DB2 with both the software is quite easy and effective. We have never faced trouble with this. It also supports mainframe programs, giving the additional benefits that we can do batch processing in the Mainframe.”
-IBM Db2 Review, Ashutosh S.
"Query runs very slow sometimes, and users face difficulty navigating to the screens. Try to make it user-friendly so that the common users can use it to the full potential.”
-IBM Db2 Review, Toyson C.
Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) enables users to build, manage, and expand databases in the cloud. It offers scalable capacity at a low cost while automating time-consuming administrative tasks, including hardware provisioning, setup, patches, and backups. It frees businesses to focus on services and provides them with the performance and security they need.
Although RDS offers various capabilities that simplify databases, its most lauded characteristics appear during the deployment process. These top operational features include the Amazon RDS Management Console, the AWS RDS Command-Line Interface, and straightforward API calls for quick and easy setup. RDS handles most of the setup before a user begins their launch, even if they have minimal experience with Amazon tools.
"The best part is its ease of setup with simple clicks and the most amazing features like high availability and scalability without compromising the security front. Also, I love its automatic backup feature. Overall it's a highly reliable service with lots of documentation/examples available online.”
"There is nothing much to dislike, but It can be even better if we can have cloud-based database management tools to manage your database objects from the AWS console. We are connecting it using the Bastian server, but having a cloud-based management tool would be a more efficient way of managing your database.”
-Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Review, Priyabrat Prasad M.
MariaDB relieves businesses of proprietary databases' costs, limitations, and intricacy, allowing them to focus on what matters most: building creative, customer-facing apps. To accommodate workloads that traditionally needed a range of specialist databases, MariaDB employs pluggable, purpose-built storage engines.
With the elimination of complexity and limits, businesses can rely on a single comprehensive database to meet all of their requirements, whether on commodity hardware or in their preferred cloud. MariaDB provides unrivaled operational agility without losing critical corporate capabilities such as genuine ACID compliance and complete SQL.
"It's a reliable database system and an open-source database which doesn't worry the users a lot at the time of use. I used this database over oracle because of its performance and availability. We can have an impression on the customers by using the MariaDB database.”
-MariaDB Review, Tabassum K.
"MariaDB performs slowly when data size grows enormously, especially on a cloud setup. Indexing is a bit slow and can be improved. Also, it consumes a good amount of storage, which they can further optimize.”
-MariaDB Review, Rahul D.
A document database (often known as a document-oriented database or a document store) is a database that stores data in the form of documents. It's a non-relational (also known as NoSQL) database well-suited for catalogs, user profiles, and content management systems, where each document is unique and changes over time.
Document database software makes it much easier for programmers to save and query data in a database because they employ the same document-model format as their codebase. Flexible indexing, robust ad hoc searches, and analytics over collections of documents are all possible with document databases.
The list below contains real user reviews from the best free document database solutions on the market. In addition to being a free application, to be included in this list, you must also:
*This list is based on G2 data collected on April 21, 2022. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.
Couchbase is a feature-rich database management system for small and midsize organizations and big corporations in various industries, including banking, hotels, energy, information technology (IT), retail, telecommunications, and manufacturing. These businesses can use the platform to retrieve, organize, store, alter, and aggregate pertinent business data.
Couchbase is a multi-model NoSQL database designed exclusively for mission-critical applications, allowing for richer and more tailored employee and customer experiences. It’s a document-oriented distributed database that combines two popular NoSQL technologies: Membase and CouchDB.
"It's straightforward and has no complex configuration. The tool stores data in different buckets, similar to tables in RDBMS. It provides bucket to bucket sync or cluster level to diff cluster level sync using XDCR, which helps in syncing or moving data.
It saves data in JSON format, making it easy to structure data in Couchbase. It works on the N1ql query and provides suggestions for index too.”
-Couchbase Review, Ashish M.
"They can improve documents search features like adding advanced search options to improve the entire search user experience.”
-Couchbase Review, Sakthivel S.
ArangoDB is a native multi-model, open-source database written in C++. It supports graph, document, and key-value data models, so users can easily mix all data models in a single query.
As an application grows in complexity, it commonly needs more than one NoSQL database. Employing a multi-model database can ease your design by merging many NoSQL forms into a single infrastructure.
"The mixture of the document, search, and graph models has made our decisions easier. We can limit our stack to use Arango and not have an explosion of vendor systems for each purpose.”
-ArangoDB Review, Kevin B.
"Creating Property graphs is easy. However, there is no direct way to create an RDF/OWL graph. RDF triples are useful in machine learning.”
-ArangoDB Review, Amardeep Singh S.
Percona Server for MongoDB is an alternative to the open-source and free MongoDB Community Edition. It combines the advantages and functions of MongoDB Community Edition with Percona's enterprise-class functionality.
The platform is based on MongoDB Community Edition. It offers a configurable data structure, native high availability, simple scalability, enhanced security, and dependability for optimal performance while reducing the cost of connecting to a proprietary software vendor.
"The best thing about this server is that it has high scalability and high availability with fault tolerance capability. The server is also very developer-friendly with almost zero latency.”
-Percona Server for MongoDB Review, Prasun P.
"We need to tune MySQL for the best. Switching to Percona may not get the enhancements we're looking for. Even with Percona, we will have to determine what enhancements are available and what settings we need to configure otherwise.”
-Percona Server for MongoDB Review, M Lukman H.
A graph database represents and stores data using graph structures for semantic queries, such as nodes, edges, and properties. A graph is an essential element in the system and connects the data items to a set of nodes and edges, where the edges indicate the nodes' relationships.
These relationships instantly connect stored data and, in many circumstances, retrieve it in a single operation. Because relationships are preserved indefinitely in the database, querying them is quick. Graph databases can easily display interconnections, which is helpful for extensively interconnected information.
The list below contains real user reviews of the best free graph database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, not only do you have to be a free application, but also:
*This list is based on G2 data collected on April 21, 2022. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.
Neo4j is an open-source graph database that helps businesses make data-driven decisions as it shows the relationships between people, processes, and systems. Neo4j maintains interconnected data by default, making data easier to comprehend. Companies can also use the property graph model to develop machine learning and AI models.
Neo4j uses a powerful declarative query language called Cypher Query language. It builds and retrieves data relationships without requiring sophisticated queries like SQL Joins.
The platform also facilitates high-performance graph searches on massive datasets. While the graph database makes up the Neo4j core, it offers additional analytics, data discovery, and development products. The database's core features include high availability, online backup, and "whiteboard-friendly" data modeling.
"I've used Neo4j for ontology-based KB generation tasks. So far, I’ve found Neo4j graph-based data representation to be the best fit for such tasks. Apart from that, Neo4j is easy to learn and operate with.”
-Neo4j Review, Sana R.
"Depending on data volume, it can be hard to visualize data connection. Also, if some information system requires sorting of data, it can be an expensive operation.”
-Neo4j Review, Danilo P.
Dgraph is a graph database system with a single schema development model. Users can use the tool to develop a schema, deploy it, and receive fast database and API access without writing any code.
Dgraph allows users to choose between GraphQL and DQL, so anyone with no prior knowledge of graph databases to get started. The database also boasts simple import and data streaming capabilities and the potential to simplify business logic with Dgraph Lambda.
"Scalability is built straight into the Dgraph. It's a graph database and comes with GraphQL straight out of the box. The GraphQL web UI makes it easy to parse the schema and build out your queries.”
-Dgraph Review, Tom H.
"Dgraph requires high RAM to store a graph compared to other offerings. The managed offering doesn't provide all the functionality possible using its Kubernetes cluster. The management has to be done by yourself or the DevOps team of the organization.”
-Dgraph Review, Aditya G.
Tigergraph is an enterprise-focused scalable graph database. The tool can handle any amount or complexity of datasets in real time, delivering all the features users expect from an enterprise-level graph database system.
Tigergraph's scalable graph database provides analytics tools that are simple to use, even without the technical know-how, and delivers robust solutions. It can be scaled according to the growing company demands, offering trillion-edge graphs that perform real-time analytics.
"Tigergraph was extremely useful for connecting data through machine learning. It helps drive our data points to make better business decisions.”
-Tigergraph Reviews, James D.
"Sometimes it becomes a bit slow at times.”
-Tigergraph Review, Amit K.
An object-oriented database (OOD) is a system that operates with sophisticated data objects, such as those found in object-oriented programming (OOP) languages. An object-oriented database is structured around objects rather than actions and data rather than logic.
Object-oriented databases treat data as whole objects. Instead of several tables, all information is presented in a single, instantly accessible object package.
The list below contains real user reviews of the best free object-oriented database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, you have to be a free application and:
InterSystems Caché is a full-featured database system with all the functionality required to run mission-critical applications, including journaling, backup and recovery, and system administration tools, for healthcare, banking and financial services, government, and other industries.
It works with substantially less database management than other database solutions, reducing operational expenses. The vast majority of Caché systems in use don't have database administrators.
"It's a swift and secure database and can communicate with relational access, web pages, and object access.”
-InterSystems Caché Review, Eike Scudellari F.
"The Studio editor is a bit outdated, and I feel a lack of general information on the open web.”
-InterSystems Caché Review, Andy C.
InterSystems IRIS is a high-performance data management platform that gives IT specialists the tools to develop machine learning and data connectivity applications. The software also supports database administration for SQL and NoSQL databases.
Businesses can use InterSystems IRIS to build, implement, and run data-intensive analytic applications with a single tool. It's primarily designed for organizations that want bespoke apps to handle incoming data quickly and perform real-time data analytics.
"The security, performance, built-in object functionality, and tight integration ensure rapid solution development and fail-safe delivery of the most complex requirement in a simplified object structure. The business Intelligence and unstructured data capabilities are in the system's core, provided by a single stack environment.
No other development environment provides the levels of integrated functionality and ability to develop such powerful business objects. The connectivity engine is robust and has high levels of functionality and performance.”
-InterSystems IRIS Review, André W.
"BI reports (deepSee) are a bit dated, and it's challenging to modify the generated report.”
-InterSystems IRIS Review, Lucas B.
GigaSpaces innovates in-memory technology to accelerate digital business transformation with unrivaled speed, performance, and scalability. The GigaSpaces Portfolio offers the most powerful, scalable, and simple-to-deploy software solutions for the most demanding business data and analytics operational needs.
Its award-winning in-memory computing technology powers the Smart Cache and Smart Digital Integration Hub (DIH) systems.
"At its core, InsightEdge has the foundation you need for an application: execution, messaging, and storage. By design, you also have partitioning of these three concepts. This, together with its in-memory computing and fault tolerance, gives us a platform with so much flexibility.”
-GigaSpaces Review, Roger F.
“Development of the core product seemed to slow down during a few years. This has changed dramatically during the last few years, though!”
-GigaSpaces Review, Joakim S.
A key-value database, sometimes known as a key-value store, is a non-relational database that stores data using a simple key-value approach. It stores, retrieves, and maintains associative arrays as a dictionary. Dictionaries comprise objects or records with many different fields that store data.
Keys and values can be anything, from basic to sophisticated compound objects. Key-value databases are highly partitionable and enable horizontal scaling that other types of databases cannot.
When should you choose a key-value database?
The list below contains real user reviews of the best free key-value database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, software must be free and:
Hbase is a non-relational, column-oriented DBMS based on the Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). It provides a fault-tolerant method of saving sparse data sets prevalent in many big data applications. It's ideal for real-time data processing or arbitrary read/write access to enormous amounts of data.
Hbase apps, like Apache MapReduce applications, are written in Java. It also supports application development in Apache Avro, REST, and Thrift.
"The most helpful thing is that it eases out your work. The upside of using Hbase is the user-friendliness that it provides. Another useful feature is the variety of commands that it provides. Since Hbase is a NoSQL database, users dealing with massive data will find it beneficial to work with Hbase.
This technology is a great upside in this field and will undoubtedly be a leader in the upcoming days. When dealing with a considerable velocity and volume of data, this technology becomes a savior. I highly recommend the use of Hbase instead of conventional technologies.”
-Hbase Review, Mohit G.
"Commands are tricky as we need to use suitable Java classes for applying operations like filtering.”
-Hbase Review, Surya P.
Aerospike is a cloud-based, on-premise NoSQL database platform that enables e-commerce, retail, online gaming, telecoms, and advertising companies to simplify multi-site clustering, cross datacenter replication, and load balancing, among other processes, on a single platform. It protects data with encryption, authentication, role-based access controls, and whitelisting.
Aerospike's cluster management technology automatically identifies nodes entering and leaving the cluster and re-replicates data when nodes are added or deleted to ensure proper functioning during hardware failures. Cross datacenter replication (XDR) replicates and syncs data across several geographic locations. Companies can also design and implement audit trails to log failed database operations, security violations, authentication protocols, user management procedures, etc.
"Aerospike helps store data as cached and the database with complete XDR functionality. It's an excellent database by combining the power of Redis and SQL compliant queries.”
-Aerospike Review, Imran K.
"Aerospike can be tricky to size the cluster, although support is beneficial.”
-Aerospike Review, Ido B.
ScyllaDB is an open-source distributed NoSQL database. It was created to work with Apache Cassandra while delivering much greater throughputs and reduced latencies. It supports the same protocols and file formats as Cassandra but is a completely rewritten implementation with the C++20 language.
Scylla supports Cassandra's protocols and includes the Amazon DynamoDB API. ScyllaDB and Cassandra are nearly identical: the CQL protocol and queries, Nodetool, SSTables and compaction techniques, and even JMX support. ScyllaDB is compatible with many similar open-source applications and connectors as Cassandra, including JanusGraph, Spark, Kafka, Presto, KairosDB, Kong, etc.
“The simplicity and ease of use make database administration more manageable. Cassandra and DynamoDB compatibility allowed us to use CQL drivers to interact with the database. Another exciting feature of Scylla is its fast replication.
ScyllaDB provides high performance with millions of requests per sec per Scylla node due to fewer internal database operations. Scylla provides excellent monitoring capabilities with Prometheus, Loki, and Grafana.”
-ScyllaDB Review, Avinash U.
"Reading a CPP stack trace is harder than Java, but finally, slack communities are always open to help. In some cases, Scylla requires improvement like enabling paging, but it's always a better choice to avoid code anti-pattern.”
-ScyllaDB Review, Robert C.
Several database management software choices can fit your database administration requirements. Other types of similar software are available for various prices, operating platforms, and special needs. Select the one that best meets your needs.
A good database serves as the foundation for a multitude of business applications. Learn how database management can support your data management strategy.
Keerthi Rangan is a content marketing specialist at G2 focused on the IT management software market. Her content helps organizations understand the different IT concepts and corresponding software available to transform their businesses, data, and people. Keerthi leverages her background in python development to build subject matter expertise in the software and IT management space. Her coverage areas include: network automation, software-defined networking (SDN), blockchain, databases, asset management, disaster recovery, intent-based networks, infrastructure as code (IaC), SaaS, and more. Keerthi has a long-standing interest in politics, the ever-evolving cyberspace, and its impact on society and businesses
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