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DBMS vs. RDBMS: Difference Between DBMS & RDBMS

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31st Aug, 2022
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DBMS vs. RDBMS: Difference Between DBMS & RDBMS

The digital age has transformed the way we look at and understand information. No matter how significant or insignificant the information is, you will find that the devices we use today have changed how we store, manage and use them. Just scroll through your smartphone to know the truth of the matter.

Everything from the most unimportant emoji text message to copies of essential documents is stored in their easily accessible electronic format. Data storage devices that measure less than the breadth of our thumb can store data that will take months to consume. 

This is the data-intensive world we live in today. But data is not limited to personal lives. From individual-run businesses to entire governments, they all need to store and organize their data efficiently and securely. Given the scope and scale of data created and stored daily, the significance of databases and their management methods cannot be denied. 

You no longer have to sit in musty and dusty rooms to access information about your organization stored from a decade ago. All you have to do is access the right database and use the most efficient management method; voila, you have the data you need, when and where you need it. 

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Though, to make the data storage and management process this straightforward and efficient, you need to familiarize yourself with two very important concepts- Database Management System (DBMS) and Relational Database Management System (RDBMS). 

So let’s get you started with what is DBMS and RDBMS?

DBMS or Database Management System and RDBMS or Relational Database Management system are based on the technology of storing data and using the database for data storage. A database in which both of them are tasked to manage is simply a collection of data. Data that gets stored in a database is of structured format.

This structuring layer to the data allows the database to prove useful in storing, managing, and retrieving the data when the need to do so arises. In the ancient times of computer technology, the information which was generated had to be stored and organized in a technology we rarely see these days, the technology of tapes. The one salient disadvantage of using the tape-based storage solution was the data’s inability to be reread from the need to resolve this issue, a database as born.

Database has since then proven to be an indispensable solution for all the data storage related needs. As the databases and the use of databases grew, the need for a robust way to manage databases also reared its head. Hence, the technology of both DBMS and RDBMS came into the picture.

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Since both DBMS and RDBMS sounds very similar, finding the difference between DBMS and RDBMS could prove difficult for someone new into this domain. However, to fully appreciate the extent of differences between DBMS vs. RDBMS, we first need to take a closer look at both of these database management technologies.

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The DBMS or Database Management System is a software that was created with the sole purpose of storing and managing the data. Unveiled in the 1960’s it offers an entire suite of data manipulation tools like deletion, insertion, and updating of data into a database. DBMS is also responsible for creating, refining, defining, and control the database. DBMS technology has allowed businesses and individuals to work closely with databases and get precisely the information they require.

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It helps users perform different data operations, including writing, reading, updating, etc. Typically, DBMS maintains the data on the system in file format. Both DBMS and RDBMS have some unique components but first, go through the details of DBMS components.

Different components in DBMS are:

  1. Data: DBMS permits data access and assists an end-user in accomplishing different functions on the data.
  2. Database access language: Generally, end-users use it to access data from the database. A DBMS carries out various functions, including adding new data, accessing required data from the database, and updating existing data.

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iii. Query language: Databases need query languages to define commands. SQL (Structured query language) is a database language used for running a DBMS. You can better learn about difference between DBMS and RDBMS in SQL if you first learn the query language.

  1. Management resources: A DBMS needs a database manager and a run-time database manager to run a database. The database managers streamline maintaining the data without any run-time requirement. On the other hand, a run-time database manager works on a defined query.
  2. Query processing: DBMS’ core component is query processing because queries inform the DBMS on what operations to perform on the data. Generally, the DBMS processes the query defined by the coding language and responds by accomplishing the command on data. The important DBMS RDBMS difference lies in how queries are processed.

Benefits of DBMS

Both DBMS and RDBMS ensure efficient database management. Let’s first go through the benefits of DBMS.

  1. Decreases data redundancy:

Data redundancy occurs when end-users use the same data in various locations. With the help of DBMS, users can store their data in a centralized place. Consequently, it decreases the dependency on saving the same data at multiple locations.

2. Guarantees data security:

A DBMS guarantees that only users can access specific data. Rather than providing data access to all users, DBMS defines who can access what. If you want to study DBMS and RDBMS difference thoroughly, you must understand how data security works.

3. Guarantee data sharing:

Using DBMS, users can safely share data among multiple users. It is implemented with a locking technology, so it prevents data from being shared by two users using the same application simultaneously.

4. Removes data inconsistency:

When data is stored in a single repository, modifying one application doesn’t impact the other applications that use the same set of details.

5. Upkeeps data integrity:

Multiple databases can exist in a DBMS. So, data integrity is crucial for all digital businesses. Whenever a database owns consistent information throughout the databases, end-users can explore its advantages. Also, the DBMS RDBMS difference highlights how these terms uniquely handle data integrity.

6. Guarantees data recovery:

All DBMS guarantees backup and recovery. The end-users need not manually backup data because a consistent data backup can quickly recover data.

7. Permits multiple user interfaces:

A DBMS permits different user interfaces like API (application program interface) and GUI (graphical user interface). The diff between DBMS and RDBMS is prominently based on the user interfaces each of them permits.

8. Saves time:

A DBMS helps the software developer to develop applications quite faster.

9. Cheap maintenance cost:

The preliminary expense for deploying a DBMS is high, but its maintenance cost is low. This highlights a key DBMS and RDBMS difference because the preliminary cost for deploying RDBMS is lower.

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RDMBS adds the R of relational to the existing Database management technology. Created in the 1970s, RDBMS was designed to be a more sophisticated version of DBMS. RDBMS also adds a degree of finesse for the organization or the individuals accessing the data stored in the database.

One key feature of RDBMS is that it can only keep the tabular form of data. Data in RDBMS is stored and sorted in the form of rows, columns (also called tuples and attribute in the DBMS language). RDBMS definitely packs more power than the vanilla DMBS, which is why this has been accepted far and across the world.  

It efficiently stores the data, and all operations on the data existing in RDBMS are faster compared to the conventional file-based data management system.

The term ‘relational’ in RDBMS derives from the fact that the values stored in a table are all associated with each other. Moreover, the tables may be related to each other. This structure helps it to operate queries over multiple tables simultaneously. RDBMS implements queries on data to accomplish various operations like searching, adding, and updating values. It also provides data visualization in a spreadsheet-like format.

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SQL manages data in a relational database management system (RDBMS). It assists in storing, operating, and accessing data in databases. The way SQL manages data in DBMS and RDBMS sets a remarkable difference between DBMS and RDBMS in SQL.

The best examples of SQL in RDBMS are MYSQL and SQL servers.

The role of SQL in RDBMS:

Let’s understand how SQL benefits RDBMS.

  • It helps the user to create and view stored procedure functions in a database.
  • It helps in creating, updating, and deleting data from the database.
  • It includes various types of SQL languages including DML, DDL, and TCL.
  • It helps you create a new table and insert, update, or delete several items. Also, you can create SEQUENCES, VIEWS, FUNCTION, PROCEDURE, and PACKAGES.

Benefits of RDBMS:

Before going through the diff between DBMS and RDBMS, let’s first know the benefits of RDBMS.

  • Easy to use and secure in nature
  • Allows data manipulation
  • Restricts redundancy and replication of the data
  • Offers enhanced data integrity
  • Offers enhanced physical data independence
  • Offers logical database independence which allows data to be viewed differently by the different users
  • Offers better backup and recovery processes
  • Offers multiple interfaces


Now that we are aware the meaning of both RDBMS and DBMS, we can now discuss the difference between DBMS and RDBMS, so listed below are some differences which we see between DBMS vs. RDBMS right of the bat:

  1. In DBMS, the data is stored as a file, while in RDBMS, the information is stored in tables.
  2. DBMS can only be used by one single user, whereas multiple users can use RDMBS.
  3. Client-server side interaction and architecture are only supported in RDBMS, whereas DBMS does not support client-server side interaction.
  4. DBMS is actually lighter in its hardware and software requirements than RDMBS. To run RDMBS properly, you would need a more powerful machine.
  5. In DBMS, there can be redundancy of data. Meaning data can be repeated when we are using DBMS. Whereas, in RDBMS, due to the indexing present, we cannot have redundant data. 
  6. One important DBMS vs RDBMS is that multiple users can access the database but this is not allowed in DBMS.
  7. The difference between DBMS and RDBMS is significant in terms of their usefulness. DBMS is appropriate for small organizations where data size is small and there is no requirement to scale up the data in the future. Conversely, DBMS is appropriate for big organizations where the data size is huge.
  8. Another remarkable difference between DBMS and RDBMS is that DBMS’ hardware and software requirements are low whereas these requirements are high in RDBMS owing to the huge data size.

The difference involves various DBMS and RDBMS examples too. DBMS examples include XML, MS Access etc. RDBMS examples include Oracle, IBM Db2, MySQL, etc.

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These were some critical differences between DMBS and RDMS. In the table below, you will find a more comprehensive comparison of the two. These differences help you better understand DBMS and RDBMS examples in real-life scenarios.


The data storage in DBMS is done in the form of a file. Tables are used to store data in RDBMS.
In DBMS, the data is stored in a navigational format or using a hierarchical arrangement.The tables which are used by RDBMS stores the data in the form of rows and columns. With the help of the column name and the row index, any information can be easily extracted.
Only one user can use DBMS.More than one user can use RDBMS.
Usually, the database may not use the ACID form of data storage, which could bring in some issues that can lead to more significant problems in the future.Because Relational Databases use the ACID model, the construction of them becomes problematic. However, this difficulty is easily countered by the benefits of using an ACID model.
This program was developed to manage the data which is stored in the computer (usually in the hard disk of a computer).This program is used to maintain the relationship of the various tables in a database.
There is not much need to have suitable hardware and software to run DMBS software properly.A good set of both hardware and software is needed to run the program of RDBMS properly.
The support of integrity constants is just not present in DBMS.RDBMS has the support for integrity constants.
The program of DMBS cannot be normalized.The program of RDBMS supports normalization.
There is no support for distributed databases in DBMS.RDBMS allows for distributed databases.
DBMS was not made to handle a huge amount of data. Whereas RDBMS can actually handle a very high amount of data.
Getting the data which is stored in a DBMS is very.Because of the relational model, the data stored in RDBMS is straightforward to access.
There is absolutely no relationship established in the data when using a DBMS model.In Relational DBMS, the data is stored, and the relationship between the information is established with foreign keys’ help.
There is a lack of security in the DBMS model of storing data, There are several log files created, which automatically increases the security of the data stored in the RDBMS model.  

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Additionally, for a more in-depth understanding of databases and their management systems, you need to look further and explore the debate between NRDBMS vs DBMS. Briefly, non-relational database management systems (NRDBMS) or non-relational NoSQL databases have become popular over the last decade.

As the magnitude of data increases and data structures become even more complex and numerous, NRDBMS or NoSQL has introduced flexibility, scalability, and cost-efficiency into traditional DBMS and RDBMS. NoSQL also has the ability to store and process data in real-time. 

There are some important differences between DBMS, RDBMS, or NRDBMS vs DBMS. They are essential to understand before you step into the world of database management systems and decide which one from the DBMS and RDBMS difference works the best for you. 

What Next?

If you are interested to learn more about DBMS and RDBMS, Full-stack management and need mentorship from industry experts, check out upGrad & IIIT Banglore’s PG Diploma in Full-Stack Software Development.

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As we become a more and more data-oriented society, the significance of data and hence, databases in our lives will only grow at unfathomable rates. To keep up with a data-driven world, you need to understand some of the key concepts that we have outlined in this article regarding database management. 

In this article, we have not simply answered the question of what is DBMS and RDBMS, but have gone further to explore DBMS and RDBMS differences. The two differ in terms of data type, structure, number of users, normalization, software and hardware requirement, security, data access, and several other aspects. 

In spite of the RDBMS and DBMS differences that we have outlined in this article, it must be noted that the relational database management system is actually a more advanced version of the raditional database management system. Nonetheless, the RDBMS and DBMS differences should not be confused with each other even though they serve similar functions. 


Rohan Vats

Blog Author
Software Engineering Manager @ upGrad. Passionate about building large scale web apps with delightful experiences. In pursuit of transforming engineers into leaders.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What are Databases?

A database is a rational, coherent, and well-organized compilation of data that can be gathered, controlled, and changed with ease. Databases, often known as electronic databases, are designed to allow for the production efficiency, insertion, and modification of data and are saved as a file or set of files on magnetic discs, tapes, and other secondary storage. Objects (tables) make up the majority of a database, while records and fields make up tables. Fields are the fundamental units of data storage, containing data about a specific element or attribute of the entity defined by the database. The data is extracted from the database using a database management system (DBMS).

2What are Normalization and Denormalization?

The term Normalization refers to the process of examining relational structures based on their functional connections. It's intended to cut down on repetition as well as insertion, deletion, and modification interruptions. Normalization is an important technique because it prevents redundant data, insertion anomalies, modification anomalies, and deletion anomalies. First Normal Form(1NF), Second Normal Form(2NF), Third Normal Form(3NF), and Boyce & Codd Normal Form (BCNF) are the most often utilized normal forms. The normalization process means dividing data into tables and establishing relationships among them. It involves several steps. Generally, we refer to them by normalization forms. They come sequentially but typically, the database gets normalized when the 3rd normal form is reached. Denormalization is a technique for improving database speed by adding redundant data and removing complex data. Denormalization is a technique for database optimization. This method is used to avoid the usage of time-consuming and expensive joins.

3What is the ACID model in Data storage?

ACID is an acronym for Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability, respectively. ACID is a set of rules and principles that guarantee database transactions are performed in a consistent and reliable manner. Any process conducted within a database, such as making a new entry or altering data within one, is referred to as a database transaction. To avoid corrupting the data in a database, changes must be conducted with caution. The best approach to ensure that a database's correctness and dependability are maintained is to apply the ACID characteristics to each alteration. Databases are maintained with the maximum data integrity and data security to guarantee that they continue to deliver value to the enterprise once all aspects of the ACID methodology have been effectively brought together.