DBMS vs RDBMS – Names You Know But Differences You Don’t

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You might have heard about relational databases which stores data in form of tabular structure but you might not know that RDBMS are not just relational databases as it also has certain advantages over DBMS like concurrency control, multiple user support, support of normalization etc. So, in this article you are going to understand about the differences between DBMS and RDBMS.

DBMS and RDBMS, both of them are the software to manage databases that can handle collection of data and can perform various functionalities such as creating, revising and controlling databases. DBMS are mainly suitable for small organizations but RDBMS are meant for larger organizations. RDBMS are the enhanced version of DBMS and it is considered as more efficient than a DBMS.

Before diving deeper into the differences, first let’s have a brief discussion over databases.

What is Database?

The database is a collection of inter-related data that is used for fetching, inserting, deleting, and updating the data efficiently. It is also used to organize the data in form of tables, documents, reports, views, etc.

For example: The university database organizes data about faculty, students, staff members etc.

Using the database one can retrieve, insert, delete, and update the data efficiently.

What is DBMS?

DBMS is the short form of Database Management System. It is software which is used to manage the database. For example, Microsoft Access, Libra Office, dBase etc are some of the very popular commercial database which can be used in any applications. It provides an interface to perform various operations like creating database, storing the data in it, updating data and a lot more. It also provides protection and security to the database; this is especially required in case of multiple users. DBMS allows users to perform following operations:

  • Data Definition: It refers to defining the database, which means creation, modification, removal of definition before storing data into database.
  • Data Updation:  It is performed to insert, modify and delete the actual data from the database.
  • Data Retrieval: It is performed to fetch the data from the database which can be used by applications for various purposes.
  • User Administration: It is used to maintain data integrity, concurrency control, enforcing data security, monitoring performance and receiving information corrupted by unexpected failure.

What is RDBMS?

RDMS is the abbreviation of Relation Database Management systems. All modern database management systems like SQL, Oracle, IBM DB2, and Microsoft Access are based on RDBMS. It is called Rational Database Management Systems (RDMS) because it stores data in form of tables and it is completely based on relational model introduced by E.F. Codd.

Data is represented in form of tuples or rows in RDMS. Relational Databases are the commonly used database because it organizes data in set of tables and it can easily be accessed using simple queries.


Relational Database Systems (RDMS) is the enhanced version of DBMS. It came into existence during 1970’s and became the most popular data management system. In RDMS, data is managed in form of rows and columns which makes it more powerful than DBMS.

Some of the key differences are:

Definition It is a software that provides a systematic way of creating, retrieving and managing data in database. A kind of DBMS that is based on relational model introduced by E.F. Codd.
Full form It stands for Database Management Systems. It stands for Relational Database Management Systems. 
Storage DBMS stores the data in files. RDBMS stores data in form of tables.
Database structure DBMS stores data in either a navigational or hierarchical form. RDBMS uses a tabular structure where the rows are tuples and columns are attributes (field).
Data Access Data elements need to be access individually. Data is accessed using SQL queries. Multiple data can be accessed at the same time.
Number of users DBMS supports single user only. RDBMS supports multiple users.
ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability). DBMS may not obey the ACID model. This can create data inconsistencies in the database. RDBMS supports ACID property so data inconsistency problems are very less as compared to DBMS.
Integrity Constraints DBMS does not support integrity constraints as they cannot be imposed at file level. RDBMS supports integrity constraints at the schema level. Values beyond a defined range cannot be stored into the particular RDBMS column.
Normalization Normalization is not supported in DBMS. Normalization is supported in RDBMS.
Distributed Databases It does not support distributed databases. It offers support for distributed databases.
Ideally suited for Small amount of data. It is designed to handle the large amount of data.
Data fetching It is slower for fetching complex and large amount of data. It is faster than DBMS for fetching large amount of data because of relational approach.
Client server architecture It does not support client server architecture. It supports client-server architecture.
Data Redundancy Data redundancy is common in DBMS. Keys and indexes do not allow Data redundancy in RDBMS.
Data Relationship No relationship between data. Data is stored in form of tables and they are related to each other with the help of foreign keys.
Security There is no security. Multiple levels of security. Log files are created at OS, Command, and object level.
Examples File System, XML, Windows Registry etc. MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server etc.


DBMS and RDBMS are very similar to each other but are not exactly same. RDBMS is based on relational model introduced by E.F. Codd. DBMS stores data in form of files while RDBMS stores data in form of tables.  RDBMS is more suitable for multiple users and it provides more advanced features than DBMS like handling complex and large amount of data. Some modern RDBMS are – MySQL, MS Access, SQL Server. These database system software are most widely used because they offer security at multiple levels like log file creation at OS, access control, concurrency control, data recovery etc.

Can you suggest any real life application where RDBMS can be used?

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