What is Database Maintenance?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Database maintenance is an activity designed to keep a database running smoothly. A number of different systems can be used to build and maintain databases, with one popular example being MYSQL. The maintenance of databases is generally performed by people who are comfortable and familiar with the database system and the specifics of the particular database, although some maintenance tasks can be performed by people who do not have experience.

Backing up data is an important aspect of maintaining a database.
Backing up data is an important aspect of maintaining a database.

Databases are used to maintain a library of information in a well organized, accessible format. They usually are not static, however, because changes are constantly being made as material is added, removed, and moved around. People may also change parameters within the database, decide to use different indexing systems, and so forth. Over time, this can cause the database to start to malfunction. Database maintenance is used to keep the database clean and well organized so that it will not lose functionality.

One important aspect of maintaining a database is simply backing up the data so that, if anything happens, there will be another copy available. Some databasing systems actually do this automatically, sending a backup to another location every day, every week, or within any other set period of time. Backups are usually not enough, however.

Database maintenance includes checking for signs of corruption in the database, looking for problem areas, rebuilding indexes, removing duplicate records, and checking for any abnormalities in the database that might signal a problem. The goal is to keep the database operating smoothly for users, so that ideally they never need to think about maintenance issues. A database that is not maintained can become sluggish, and people may start to experience problems when trying to access records.

Many servers have extensive databases that are used to serve up content to users on an internal network or on the Internet. An important part of server maintenance involves confirming that databases are working properly. This also includes checks for security flaws and other issues that could threaten the integrity of the database, ranging from viruses to records which are entered improperly.

Numerous textbooks are available with information about database management, including how to maintain databases properly. It is also possible to take courses to learn about different databasing systems and how to care for databases, whether they are being built from scratch or taken over. People can also earn certifications in specific systems which indicate a high level of competence.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


Why is SQL harder?


@jessicalab - Actually it's not that difficult to maintain a database these days. There are a number of tools and database software products to help update and maintain data. Qwest’s TOAD, for instance, allows access into many different database servers and is not as expensive as the enterprise managers available from the database giants like Oracle and Microsoft. You can also build maintenance management tools for web browsers that will allow non technical users to view, insert, update and delete database records without knowing sql. Sql database management does not always require a database administrator, but it is important to have a database maintenance plan.

Hope that helps!


Do I need to a database administrator to maintain my online database? I am thinking about starting a customer database for my business, but I don't want to mess with it if it's just going to be a hassle. Does anybody more tech-savvy have any information for me?

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