January 31, 2023
SharePoint is a popular platform for building websites and collaborating on documents, but it can also be used for database management. Many businesses use SharePoint to store and organize data, but as the amount of data increases, it may become necessary to consider a specialized database management solution.
In this article, we will explore the use of SharePoint as a database, its limitations, and other database options available in the market, as well as how to properly manage SharePoint databases to ensure their security, availability, and accessibility. Whether you’re looking to migrate data, improve performance, or simply ensure your data is properly backed up, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how to effectively use SharePoint as a database.
List of the Content
- SharePoint as database advantages
- How to create a database in SharePoint and manage it
- The drawbacks of utilizing SharePoint as a database
- Alternative database solutions
SHAREPOINT AS DATABASE ADVANTAGES
Despite a number of limitations, some users may still consider SharePoint as a viable database option. Here are some reasons why:
- At first glance, SharePoint lists appear similar to database tables with columns and various data types.
- Users can provision new schema without the need for DBA privileges.
- It offers an extensible interface that is ready for data management.
- Users don’t need to coordinate SharePoint apps with data stored in other locations.
- Data can be migrated without the need for synchronization.
While these reasons may seem logical, it is important to consider that there are other more suitable database options that would be better choices in most cases for processes that require true database functionality.
HOW TO CREATE A DATABASE IN SHAREPOINT AND MANAGE IT
It is important to note that it is not recommended to use SharePoint as a primary database. However, it is possible to add content databases within SharePoint Server. According to Microsoft, it is possible to add a new content database or attach an existing one to a web application using a backup file.
One way to utilize SharePoint for database management is by adding content databases to SharePoint Server. To do this, navigate to the SharePoint Central Administration website and select the “Manage Content Databases” option under the “Application Management” section. From there, you can add a new content database or attach an existing one to a web application.
Another option is to build and publish a Microsoft Access database to SharePoint. This can be done by designing and publishing a web database using Access 2010 and Access Services. Once the database is published, users with accounts on the SharePoint site can access and use the database in a web browser. This can be useful for creating database applications that don’t require access.
When working with SharePoint databases, it is important to properly manage the databases to ensure they are running smoothly and securely. This includes regularly backing up the databases, monitoring performance, and monitoring for errors.
To back up a SharePoint database, navigate to the SharePoint Central Administration website and select the “Backup and Restore” option under the “Farm Management” section. From there, you can select the specific databases you want to back up and schedule regular backups.
To monitor performance and errors, navigate to the SharePoint Central Administration website and select the “Monitoring” option under the “System Settings” section. Here, you can view performance reports and error logs. Additionally, you can set up alerts to notify you of any potential issues.
In addition to these management tasks, it’s also important to keep SharePoint and its associated databases updated. This can be done by navigating to the SharePoint Central Administration website and selecting the “Check for Updates” option under the “Upgrade and Migration” section. Make sure to test the updates in a test environment before applying them to the production environment.
SharePoint also offers features such as the capability to transfer site collections across different databases within SharePoint Server and the option to operate a farm utilizing read-only databases in SharePoint Server, among others. These options provide added flexibility when managing SharePoint databases and can be useful in certain situations.
Overall, while SharePoint is not designed to be a primary database, it can still be used for database management in conjunction with other database systems. By properly managing SharePoint databases, users can ensure their data is secure, available, and accessible.
THE DRAWBACKS OF UTILIZING SHAREPOINT AS A DATABASE
Using SharePoint as a database is not recommended due to its lack of features that are essential for efficient data collection, storage, retrieval, sorting, and manipulation. SharePoint is not built to support complex data relationships that are vital for full database functionality.
Additionally, SharePoint has a limited capacity for handling large amounts of data, which makes it impractical for companies that deal with large data sets. In these cases, it would be more appropriate to explore other database options that are specifically designed for this purpose.
SharePoint is missing several key features that are necessary for proper database functionality. These include:
- Relationships between tables, such as one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many
- Primary and foreign keys, which are unique identifiers used to link tables with parent-child relationships
- Structured Query Language (SQL), a standard language used to write code for complex queries
- Stored procedures, reusable code blocks stored in the database
- Transactions, units of work that represent changes in a database
- Indexing and query optimization, processes used to improve database performance
- Large items and binary data, such as video files, audio files, and images
- Lack of external access, which limits the usefulness of SharePoint as a database
Without these features, the use of SharePoint as a database is severely limited, and alternative options should be considered for proper database functionality.
ALTERNATIVE DATABASE SOLUTIONS
If you are a fan of Microsoft products, there are other options for database creation that the company offers, such as Power Apps. Power Apps can be used by both developers and non-developers to create a wide range of solutions and is compatible with SharePoint and other Microsoft applications. It also allows for creating database apps from a SharePoint list. MS SQL Server, another Microsoft offering, is also available both on-premise or in the cloud.
Other popular database options include:
- Oracle, a widely used commercial relational database management system
- MySQL, a popular database, particularly in web application development
- PostgreSQL, a database management system commonly used for big data applications
- MongoDB, designed to handle document data
- IBM DB2, built to handle low-latency transactions and real-time analytics
- Cassandra, a highly scalable database management software commonly used for big data
- MariaDB, a relational database management system compatible with the MySQL protocol and clients
Want to make an informed decision about the database?
Read our article explaining the difference between relational and non-relational databases.
Check the article about Relational vs Non-relational Databases
There are many database options available, and it’s important to consider the specific use cases and requirements of your organization to select the right one. A video on the topic for users of Google Cloud provides more tips for which database to consider for different use cases.
In conclusion, while SharePoint is a powerful platform for building websites and collaborating on documents, it is not recommended to use it as a primary database. SharePoint lacks several key features that are necessary for proper database functionality, such as support for complex data relationships and the ability to handle large data sets.
However, SharePoint can still be used in conjunction with other database systems to provide additional functionality, such as document management and collaboration. Additionally, Microsoft offers other options for database creation, such as Power Apps and MS SQL Server, which are compatible with SharePoint and other Microsoft applications.
When considering a database solution, it’s essential to take into account the specific use cases and requirements of your organization. Other popular database options include Oracle, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, IBM DB2, Cassandra, and MariaDB. These options offer different features and functionalities that can be better suited for certain use cases.
In summary, SharePoint can be used as a database, but it’s not recommended as it’s not designed for that purpose. It’s important to consider other options that are built specifically for handling data management and manipulation.
Need additional assistance with choosing the right database for your project?
Our team will gladly share our experience and help define your functional and non-functional requirements to choose the right database covering your business needs.
Frequently asked questions
How to use SharePoint as a database?
Even though SharePoint isn't designed for database purposes, it's possible to utilize it as a database. This popular platform can be used for storing and organizing data. However, it isn't capable of handling a large amount of data due to its limitations.
What is the major drawback of SharePoint as a database?
Compared to other database alternatives, SharePoint has some limitations. Therefore, for large amounts of data or more complex database requirements, it’s better to consider using traditional database options.
What are alternative database solutions?
Some popular database solutions include:
- IBM DB2