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Why Would You Use a Spreadsheet Over a Database

Why Would You Use a Spreadsheet Over a Database

Why Would You Use a Spreadsheet Over a Database ? You may have already used spreadsheet applications such as Calligra, LibreOffice Calc, or Microsoft® Excel sheets. If so, you will probably wonder: how much spreadsheets and databases have a table, why can you use a database and not a spreadsheet?

When comparing spreadsheets and databases you can find the following issues that will be discussed in more detail later.

How is a database different from a spreadsheet?

Gradually surpassing the capacity of a mobile phone, expand your table Adding a column (field) Address. Add more phone numbers (office, home) for each person and add last names to names. To make it easier, we will assume the following:

The table is limited to two people (obviously the service being hundreds and all miles in a real database)

There are two people with the same name and surname

Integrity of reference data

Suppose you are using a spreadsheet and need to change the address of at least one person. It has a small problem: you have to change the address in many rows. For example, Juana appears in three rows. But a real problem will appear if you forget to change one of the rows – the address assigned to this person will become ambiguous, and therefore your data will lose integrity.

Also, there is no easy way to remove a single person from the table, because you have to delete all rows relative to that person.

Data Redundancy

It is directly connected to the above problem. In the fields “name” and “last name” and “address” the same data has been entered several times. This is typical of ineffective spreadsheet mode of storing data since the database grows unnecessarily, and therefore requires more computer resources (larger data size and slower access).

Integrity and validity of data

Notice how the data is entered in the First and Last name and Address fields. People who enter the data can make mistakes, sometimes even negligently. In our example data we have several sequences of introduction of the name and surname (Joan Smith and Smith Joan, Adam and ADAM) and many more ways to enter the same address. Surely you can think of many other ways.

The above problem shows that p. Ex. When searching for the telephone number of a person whose address is “Western Gate 1, Warsaw” will not get a complete result. You will only get one row instead of three. Also, you will not find all phone numbers looking for the “Joan Smith” value in the First and Last name field, because “Smith Joan” does not fit “Joan Smith”.

How can you solve these problems using a database? You can do this by changing the table layout People:

Separating the data from the first and last name field into two separate fields: First and Last name.

Separating the data from the Address field into three separate fields: Street, House Number and City.

Ensuring the correctness of the data: making sure there is no empty field, eg. Ex. You must always enter a house number.

Limit display of data

A spreadsheet shows all the lines and columns of the table, which can sometimes be annoying on huge data sheets. Of course, you can filter and sort the spreadsheet lines, but you should be careful when you do so. Spreadsheet users may forget that the data view has been leaked, which can lead to errors. For example, to calculate sums you may think you have 100 rows of data, although in fact there are 20 more hidden rows.

If you want to work on a small subset of the data, Ex. To send it to others to edit it, you can copy it and paste it into another spreadsheet and after editing paste the changed data back to the main spreadsheet. These “manual” editions can cause data loss or incorrect calculations.

To limit the display of data, database applications offer queries, forms, and reports.

Performance and Capacity

Your computer is probably pretty fast. However, it can slow down somewhat if you use very large spreadsheets. Its low efficiency lies primarily in the lack of indexes that accelerate the process of searching the data (databases do offer indexes). In addition, if you are going to perform operations such as copying to the system clipboard, even copying data may be problematic at times.

Spreadsheets that contain very large datasets take a long time to open. A spreadsheet loads a lot of data into the computer’s memory when it opens. Most of the data that is uploaded may possibly be unnecessary and not used at that time. Databases, unlike spreadsheets, load data stored on your computer only when you need them.

In most cases, you will not have to worry about how the data is stored in the database. This means that, unlike spreadsheets, databases do not care about:

The sequence of the rows, because you can sort the lines according to your needs. In addition, you can view the same data in different views with different sorting.

The same applies also to the columns (fields) of the table.

Together with the Data View Limitation described in the previous paragraph, these qualities constitute the advantage of the databases.

Data entry

The latest editions of spreadsheet applications allow you to design forms for entering data. These types of forms are most commonly used when the data can not be properly displayed in the table view, eg. Eg if the text takes too many lines or if all the columns do not fit on the screen.

In this case, the way in which the spreadsheet works is problematic. The fields for entering the database have difficulties in locating them in the spreadsheet, and are often unsafe against the manipulation (intentional or accidental) of the user.


Databases enable grouping, limiting, and summarizing data in a report form. Spreadsheets are usually printed on a small table form without fully automatic control over page divisions or layout of the fields.


Applications for creating databases often provide programming languages. The latest spreadsheets also have these capabilities, but they reduce the ability to modify


Las bases de datos activan la agrupación, la limitación y resumen de datos en un formulario de un informe. Las hojas de cálculo normalmente se imprimen en un formulario de pequeñas tablas sin control completamente automático sobre las divisiones de las páginas o la disposición de los campos.


Las aplicaciones para crear bases de datos suelen ofrecer lenguajes de programación. Las hojas de cálculo más recientes también tienen estas capacidades, pero reducen la capacidad de modificar los campos de la hoja de cálculo y la copia de datos sencilla, sin olvidar la relevancia de las reglas de identidad que se mencionaron en los párrafos anteriores.

El procesamiento de datos en la hoja de cálculo se suele hacer mediante una interfaz gráfica de usuario, que puede reducir la velocidad de procesamiento de los datos. Las bases de datos pueden trabajar en segundo plano, fuera de las interfaces gráficas.


Es difícil imaginar varios usos para una hoja de cálculo. Aunque es técnicamente posible en las aplicaciones más recientes, necesita mucha disciplina, atención y conocimientos por parte de los usuarios, algo que no se puede garantizar.

Una forma clásica de compartir los datos almacenados en una hoja de cálculo con otras personas es enviar un archivo completo (normalmente, por correo electrónico) o proporcionar un archivo de hoja de cálculo en una red de computadores. Esta forma de trabajar en poco eficaz para grupos de muchas personas: los datos que pueden ser necesarios en un momento los puede tener bloqueados otra persona.

Por otro lado, las bases de datos se han diseñado pensando que puede haber varios usuarios accediendo a los datos. Incluso en la versión más simple, es posible bloquear una fila de un tabla en concreto, lo que hace posible compartir los datos de la tabla.


Asegurar una hoja de cálculo o alguna de sus secciones con una contraseña es una mera actividad simbólica. Después de distribuir un archivo de hoja de cálculo por una red de computadores, la gente puede copiar el archivo e intentar averiguar la contraseña. A veces no es tan difícil, porque la contraseña está almacenada en el mismo archivo que la hoja de cálculo.

Las características para editar los bloqueos o para bloquear la copia de una hoja de cálculo (o parte de ella) es igual de fácil de eludir.

Las bases de datos (salvo que estén almacenadas en un archivo en lugar de en un servidor) no suelen estar disponibles en un único archivo. Se suele acceder a ellas usando una red de computadores, normalmente proporcionando un nombre de usuario y una contraseña. Obtiene acceso solo a esas áreas (tablas, formularios o incluso filas y columnas seleccionadas) que le han sido asignadas para definir los adecuados derechos de acceso.

Los derechos de acceso pueden afectar a la capacidad para editar datos o para acceder a los datos. Si hay datos a los que no puede acceder, y no se los han enviado al computador, no tiene la posibilidad de hacer una copia de los datos de una forma tan fácil como en los archivos de hoja de cálculo.

Why Would You Use a Spreadsheet Over a Database