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Web Hosting - Databases, What Are They and Do You Need One?
'Database' is one of the most commonly used terms that one encounters in web site design. Yet, what they really are and whether they're essential is often not clear to novices.
A database is a collection of organized data, stored in files that have a specific structure. It's that organization and structure that allows for easy and rapid storage and retrieval.
The need for a database generally only arises when you have a certain amount of information and that information needs to have some structure. If you have a half-dozen names and addresses to store, a database is usually overkill. If you have a blob of data with no relationships between any of the items in that blob, maintaining a database is usually more trouble than it's worth.
Maintain a database? Yes, like other complex systems a database, to be effective, needs to be designed properly at the outset then kept 'tuned' for good performance. The alternative is to gradually allow the database to become more and more disorganized. That leads to difficulty in use, poor speed of retrieval and more frequent failures.
With MySQL, Access or MS SQL Server, the three most common choices of database product for web sites today, setting up a database is relatively simple. Even those with limited technical skill can get one up and running just by following some simple instructions. But some thought should be given to how you want the information organized, and to maintaining the system during its lifetime.
Suppose you have a set of names, addresses, email addresses, products purchased, date purchased and amount. If you have only a few dozen records it matters very little how these pieces are arranged and related. A database usually isn't even warranted in this scenario. Once you have several thousand or more records, it matters a lot. Speed, the ease of expanding the set of attributes (like adding, say, product category), and other issues come into play.
Even those with little technical expertise, but a willingness to exert logical thought and invest some time, can build a very robust database. Think about how you would organize a set of data (called 'tables'). Should Name, Address, and Product be in the same table? Or should the personal information be stored in one table and any product information (product, price, ...) in another?
Some experimentation may be needed to get it right, but the choices have an impact on how easy the tables are to maintain. It also affects the speed with which programs can fetch old data and store the new.
Having a database also introduces new maintenance issues for the server administrator, since backups usually need to be done differently. Recovering a failed database is usually more complicated than simply re-copying files from yesterday. Ask your hosting company what tools and skills they have for dealing with any database system you consider.
It's true that introducing a database creates more complexity and the need for additional thought and administrative effort. At a certain level, professional expertise will be needed. But clearly the advantages outweigh the costs in many cases. Companies large and small eventually use databases to store and organize data. At some point, you may be fortunate enough to be one of them.
Want Free Baby Stuff? Visit Favorite Baby Company Websites Are you, or someone you know, expecting? Impending motherhood is a very exciting, but often stressful transition, and also quite an expensive transition. When it comes to becoming a parent, the expenses can often seem overwhelming. But did you know that there are many freebies aimed specifically at the expecting couple? Here are some ways to find the best free baby stuff. General Tips for Getting the Best Free Baby Stuff If you are already familiar with baby companies or have your own favorite baby products, you will find that you can probably finagle some baby freebies. Your first step is to check the website for your favorite baby products company. Many baby product companies will give you a free sample, or other fine freebies, from your favorites. Sign up for baby products company newsletters. Put your name on their mailing list. This is an easy way to receive coupons, special offers, and yes, freebies, from your favorite baby products manufacturer. Get the Latest and Greatest in Free Baby Products from BabyCenter Do you wish you could find a website dedicated especially to finding the latest and greatest in free baby products? If so, you will definitely want to check out BabyCenter. This website features a library of freebie offers directed especially to the expectant parent. Check under Free Stuff and Great Deals for the best freebies, as well as the best in baby product coupons. One of the best things about the BabyCenter website is that it offers you the ability to search according to age or stage of your pregnancy. There is information and freebies for mothers who just learned they are pregnant to toddler parents or mother of young children. A Great Place to Find Free Baby Stuff If you are looking for a website that offers you some of the greatest and latest freebie deals in the baby department, check out Babiesonline.com. This website offers a whole section dedicated to free baby stuff. Here you will find a compendium of some of the best free baby websites. You will also find a link to free baby product samples. You will also find an offer for free pregnancy wristbands. Other free baby offers include free baby photo prints, free baby coupons and you can even sign up for the latest baby freebie alerts so that you never miss out on another great baby freebie. Looking for More Great Baby Freebies? If you still don't have your fill of great baby freebies, here are some more great places to find the best in baby freebies. The website babytobee.com offers many fine resources for the expectant father, including a collection of baby freebies. This is an also a great website to learn more about baby products and equipment. There are a whole section of free baby products, and you can even register for your own personal baby page. Count Down to Baby Time with Free Baby Web Resources Are you blogging your way to parenthood, or simply keeping a family page where you can relate the latest news of your pregnancy with friends and family members? If so, you will be glad to hear that there are many baby web freebies to be had. Check out the Lilypie baby ticker, a free baby due date countdown clock that you can place prominently on your website. This is a fun and easy way to countdown to the expected due date. You can also find free baby blogs, free baby-themed web design features and web hosting services as well as free baby photo upload services. You can create your own online haven for welcoming your newborn into the world.
Yes, There Really is a Freebie Santa Claus If you are a cynic when it comes to offers of free stuff, you are not alone. Everyone has had notions like ?there is no such thing as a free lunch? and ?if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is? drilled into their heads, and for good reason ? these things often hold water. On the flip side, there ARE actually lots of places you can score some decent free stuff, if you know where to look and are willing to devote some time to hunting them down. The key to getting the best free stuff with the least amount of hassle is to stick with that healthy cynicism but to also dipping your toe in the freebie pool little by little. But why would anyone give stuff away for free? It is certainly an obvious question, but if you stop to consider it for a moment, you can see that companies actually have a lot of motivation to give away free stuff. After all, if they give you something for free, you are bound to have a little soft spot for their company, and when you are ready to part with some cash, their product may near the top of your list. Also, by giving away free things, companies can convince people to try new products. You might not want to try a new kind of shampoo if you have to pay for it, but you?d certainly be willing to give a free sample a try. You may end up loving it and switching to that shampoo for good, turning you into a paying customer. Another reason a company might give you free stuff is to complete market research. This is where getting free things can get a little complicated for some people because the products may not cost you money, but the offer may cost you a little time. A company might ask you to take a survey of your buying habits before they give you a free offer, or they may ask you to provide feedback on a regular basis as you try their product for free. Some people balk at the time commitment required here, but for other people, filling out some paperwork is a small price to pay for some free stuff. Of course, to convert you into a customer or to communicate with you about market research, a company will have to contact you, which is complicated area number two for freebie lovers. You will almost always be forced to hand over your email address in order to cash in on a free offer, and that is a recipe for opening your inbox up to a barrage of spam (many companies sell your email address to offset the costs of their free promotions, which means the number of people soliciting you can go through the roof very quickly). If you want to avoid this downside of freebie hunting, set up a special email address specifically for your freebie deals. That way all of your spam goes to this one address and your regular email you use with family and friends remains free and clear. One final note of caution about free stuff online: a lot of scammers have hit on the idea of using pretend freebie offers to solicit personal information about people or to convince people to send them money. Don?t send money, even for postage, to a company you don?t know and never, ever give out personal information online. No reputable company is going to ask for your social security number or bank account details for a freebie offer, so don?t hand them out to anyone. When in doubt, skip it and move to the next freebie.