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How do I Choose the Best Database Freeware?

By Vanessa Harvey
Updated May 16, 2024
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To choose the best database freeware, you will need to take into account your business or personal needs and the features of various programs. Consider whether you need the database to be relational, to be written in a particular language, to have support for the SQL language, to be useful for server and desktop applications and to run on a variety of platforms. Remember to consider if there will be multiple users or just one and whether you need to work with the program via a Graphical User Interface (GUI) or have the knowledge to use a command line. Don't forget to consider that if you have file size restrictions, database freeware can be relatively small, but it also can take up much space. It also is advisable to know how you will receive technical support, the schedule for the release of updates and whether the program you choose can be called using Open DataBase Connection (ODBC); answers to these questions will help you to make a suitable choice.

Database freeware can be free software that is closed source or it can be open source software. Open source software offers you the advantage of being legally able to view and modify the code to further customize a program to suit your personal or business needs. If this is important, you will want to know in which language the software was written to determine whether you or other users or administrators have the knowledge to work with the code. For example, the database freeware Apache Derby was developed using the Java language; if you know Java, you have the freedom to view and alter the code, which can prove very helpful at times. True open source software is released under the General Public License (GPL) which provides for such freedoms.

The SQL language frequently is used to program a database management system, often known simply as a database, so choosing freeware that supports it usually is a wise choice. Choosing database freeware that will run on a variety of platforms also can prove advantageous. Microsoft Windows, Linux and Unix are widely used operating systems with which you might choose or have to work with at some point. You also might want to make sure the database freeware of your choice is compatible with Open DataBase Connectivity (ODBC), a standard access method allowing for access to any data from any application regardless of the database that manages the data.

It is very important to know how you will obtain technical support for any free software program you choose, including database freeware. MySQL is one of the world's most popular free database management systems with very strong, free community technical support. This database freeware also is offered by most website hosting companies as part of a free or fee-based package. If you choose to use MySQL available in a web host package, you probably will be limited to interaction with it via a GUI. You will have the option of working with it using a command line if you run it on a machine over which you have total control.

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