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When should you use a database instead of a spreadsheet?

March 8, 2023

Spreadsheets and databases are two of the most popular tools used to store and analyze data. Both technologies have been around for a long time; databases date to the early 1970s and spreadsheets are a more “recent” evolution (with VisiCalc’s debut in 1979) offering greater flexibility and scalability.

Spreadsheets: Pervasive, Approachable Data Analysis

It’s no surprise that spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, are ubiquitous in business settings (there are conservatively 750M users worldwide), due to their easy-to-use interface and ability to quickly generate charts. However, spreadsheets do have some drawbacks; they can become difficult to manage when dealing with large datasets (over 1 million rows), and require manual updates if the underlying data changes.

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