Table 1: Distinction between a data file and a database

Characteristics of a data file

Characteristics of a database

A collection of records usually of the same data type and format description

A collection of interrelated records, organized in one or more data files, that may have different data types and format descriptions

Data file processing is usually associated with computer programming that aims at solving a particular problem, i.e. it stops when an answer is obtained

Database processing is always associated with database management systems that aim at solving the operation or production needs of an organization, i.e. it involves routine, largely repetitive applications executed over and over again

Mainly used in support of the information need of an ad hoc application

Mainly used in support of the day to day operation of business (transaction processing) but increasingly used in decision support (management decision making)