File-Based Data Management System Definition & Meaning

A file-based data management system (also called a file system) is a type of software that allows users to access and organize small groups of data. It is usually integrated into a computer’s operating system and is responsible for storing and retrieving files from a storage medium, such as a hard disk or flash drive. File systems are effectively a digitized version of paper-based filing systems for a wider range of file types.

File system vs. DBMS

Whereas a file system is a type of software that’s responsible for maintaining whole files in a storage medium, a database management system (DBMS) is a software application through which a user interacts with a database. In a file system, all of the files are organized into directories and folders, and sometimes the same file can be duplicated across multiple locations. This means there’s a much greater chance of data inconsistency with file systems. Plus, file systems typically have a drastically smaller capacity than a DBMS and can only modify the metadata of a specific file rather than its contents. Examples of file systems include Microsoft’s NTFS and Apple’s Hierarchical File System.

A DBMS, on the other hand, is a much larger application that can manipulate large quantities of data in complex ways. It usually has more advanced security features to protect the data it contains and offers backup and recovery in the event of data loss, unlike a file system. A DBMS is usually much more expensive and complicated to implement than a file system, however. Prominent DBMS products include MySQL, IBM DB2, and Amazon RDS.

Advantages of file-based systems

Advantages of file-based systems include:

  • Easy to use
  • Inexpensive
  • Faster performance
  • Suitable for personal data management

Disadvantages of file-based systems

Disadvantages of file-based systems include:

  • Limited capacity
  • Limited functionality
  • Less security
  • Greater data inconsistency
  • No backup or recovery capabilities

 

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Kaiti Norton
Kaiti Norton is a Nashville-based Content Writer for TechnologyAdvice, a full-service B2B media company. She is passionate about helping brands build genuine connections with their customers through relatable, research-based content. When she's not writing about technology, she's sharing her musings about fashion, cats, books, and skincare on her blog.

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