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What Is a Database Catalog?

A database catalog is the central repository of metadata, where details about database objects like tables, indexes, and columns are stored. It's the roadmap that guides SQL queries to the right data, ensuring efficient database management and retrieval. Think of it as the librarian of the database world. Ready to uncover how this system streamlines your data interactions?
Alex Newth
Alex Newth

A database catalog is a function included on a server that allows users and administrators to check information on every database installed on that server. Along with common information, a database catalog also holds metadata on every database, such as how many tables and rows are being used in a particular database. One way for administrators to check database changes is by going through the catalog, because this saves all recent changes to the database along with information on the people who made the changes. Users typically do not have access, or they have limited access, to the catalog; the catalog automatically has an email link so users can email administrators and request access.

If a business or website owner has a server, then there normally are several databases included on that server. These databases may hold different types of information, or they may be used to maximize each database’s storage threshold. It can be difficult for administrators to use or regulate each database, but the database catalog can help them with this task. This is because the catalog saves a file of all the databases, so administrators will not forget about any of them.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Aside from the name of each database on the server, a database catalog also can access each database’s metadata. This metadata contain basic information about the database, such as how many tables are currently being populated with data, and the number of users that have access to the database. While the metadata cannot be changed, it does make it easier for users and administrators to know how large a database is in a quick glance.

The database catalog does not just store metadata; it also stores information about recent changes. This section of the catalog shows all changes, and it displays the user’s name and Internet protocol (IP) address so administrators know who is responsible for alterations. If the change is damaging to the database, then administrators will know who is at fault.

While administrators typically have unlimited access to the database catalog, most users have limited or no access. This is because users do not typically need metadata information, nor do they normally need to know about the number of databases on a server. If users do need access, then the catalog automatically has an email link that allows users to email administrators to request access. Administrators may or may not grant this access, based on the users’ reasons and history.

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