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Chapter 4. Working with Access Databases... > Understanding Relational Databases

Understanding Relational Databases

All desktop database managers enable you to enter, edit, view, and print information contained in one or more tables divided into rows and columns. At this point, the definition of a database manager doesn't differ from that of a spreadsheet application—most spreadsheets can emulate simple database functions. Three principal characteristics distinguish relational database management systems (RDBMSs) from spreadsheet applications:

  • All RDBMSs are designed to deal efficiently with very large amounts of data—much more than spreadsheets can handle conveniently.

  • RDBMSs easily link two or more tables so that they appear to users as though they are one table. This process is difficult or impossible to accomplish with spreadsheets.

  • RDBMSs minimize information duplication by requiring repetition of only those data items, such as product or customer codes, by which multiple tables are linked.


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