Difference between DBMS and RDBMS: An Easy Overview (2021)


The 21st century is the most data-driven era in terms of technological advancements. Every aspect of society from schools, to city markets along with multinational corporates, depends on data accumulation and analysis for their business enhancements. The advent of social media saw people knowingly or unknowingly giving out abundant personal, professional and social information about themselves. This when scrutinized accurately will be a powerful tool to push the frontiers of ones’ business reach.

The first step towards using data as a powerful business instrument is to accumulate it. Acquiring data is not an easy task. It involves data mining from primary and secondary sources, then cleaning it to remove unnecessary variations to finally deriving related, reliable and accurate data that can be analyzed to make informed decisions. The basic need for conducting all the above-mentioned processes is to have a strong Database Management System(DBMS). Having a big and powerful Database Management System enables you to collect and scrutinize data to identify significant problems and provide necessary solutions for better business productivity.

There are two types of software when it comes to data management – DBMS and RDBMS.

In this article we cover the difference between dbms and rdbms. The contents of the article are as follows:

  1. What is DBMS?
  2. What is RDBMS?
  3. Difference between DBMS & RDBMS

1) What is DBMS?

DBMS or Database Management System is a software used to manage and store data. Introduced in the 1960s, it also provides features for data manipulation like delete, insert, and update. A DBMS system can perform a variety of functions on the database like creating, defining, controlling and revising the database. It is specially designed to extract the desired data, maintain and create a database and enable individual business applications.

To date, the DBMS systems are popular in use as the Windows Registry, in file systems and XML as they have lower storage, software and hardware requirements. They do not support client-server architecture, and data can fast become redundant as it is not relational data. 

2) What is RDBMS?

The RDBMS definition is that it is an advanced DBMS version of the system. RDBMS stands for Relational Database Management System and came into being in the 1970s. The Relational DBMS system is more efficient than the DBMS system in permitting access to data. 

What does RDBMS stand for? The RDBMS meaning is a Relational DBMS software system that only stores data which is in the form of tables. Thus in an RDBMS system, data is read and managed in columns and rows, which are referred to as the attributes and tuples of the data. In database management, the difference between DBMS and RDBMS makes the powerful RDBMS system extremely popular worldwide. 

RDBMS systems like Oracle, SQL Server, etc., are extremely popular as they permit multiple users and are able to access multiple entries with a single SQL Query. This obviously is a huge advantage, as it can store larger volumes of data that is relational data and hence data redundancy problems are non-existent. It does require more hardware, software and resources, though it supports client-server architecture, which is a huge boon.

3) Difference between DBMS & RDBMS:

Let us look at what is the difference between DBMS and RDBMS systems knowing that DBMS and RDBMS are both data systems. 

Examples: Here is the basic difference between DBMS and RDBMS with example. DBMS examples are XML, file systems, Windows Registry etc. RDBMS examples are Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server and so on.

Storage and database structure: To notice the difference between DBMS and RDBMS, the DBMS stores data in a file format with a hierarchical or navigational form. RDBMS storage is housed in tables, with the column names being the headers and the values as its rows. 

Data Relationship and access: The difference between DBMS and RDBMS data is that RDBMS data uses the foreign index and key methods, making multiple data elements easily accessible to a SQL query, whereas, in DBMS, there is no relationship between the data and the elements are accessed individually.

Type of program: The DBMS program is a single-user system that manages the computer’s hard disks and networks, while the RDBMS multiple user programs use the database systems to maintain relationships in tables.

ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability): The major difference between DBMS and RDBMS is that regular DBMS systems do not follow the ACID format, developing data inconsistencies. RDBMS systems are harder to construct but follow the ACID norms and provide consistent data.

Hardware and software need: The DBMS has lower hardware and software needs compared to RDBMS. 

Integrity constants: Integrity constants also are a major difference between DBMS and RDBMS, which are not imposed at the file level or supported in DBMS. The RDBMS imposes them at the schema level. But, a particular RDMS column has a definite range and value beyond which data cannot be stored.

Normalization and client-server architecture: RDBMS supports normalization and client-server architecture, while DBMS does not support the features.

Distributed Database: RDBMS supports a distributed database and 8 to 10 of the Dr EF Codd Rules, whereas DBMS supports less than seven of them.

Data Redundancy: In the RDBMS system, the difference between DBMS and RDBMS is that the RDBMS index and keys do not allow redundancy which is common in the DBMS data. Further, when fetching data from large or complex databases, RDBMS fares better because of its relational approach.

Security: RDBMS is ideal to store large volumes of data, has multiple security levels since the log files are created at object, Command and OS levels, unlike the DBMS, which has lower storage and no security.

Uses: RDBMS is mainly used in databases to store large data volumes in the table format, whereas the DBMS system has a file format making it ideal for applications as a registry and storage of non-relational data.


There is a major difference between DBMS and RDBMS systems. DBMS vs RDBMS differences is that the advantages of RDBMS are consistency, support of client-server architecture and a never redundant RDBMS database. It also uses higher software with the table format where headers are columns and values are rows, permitting multiple users, multiple data elements to be found in SQL Query etc., because it is a relational form of data. The DBMS system has no relational elements, is in the file format, and is well suited for file systems or Windows Registry applications making the difference between DBMS and RDBMS rather stark. 

In this study, it is important to note that though they sound similar, the difference in formats of the DBMS and RDBMS systems makes them uniquely different and suitable for different applications. The file format of a DBMS system copes well with non-relational data and storage of files, whereas the inherent table format of the RDBMS allows it to store larger volumes of data and access databases with aplomb.

Obviously then, their requirements of hardware, software and resources are different, with the RDBMS requiring more and being used to access databases because it supports client-server architecture, unlike the DBMS system used in registries to access files. In terms of data redundancy, the RDBMS data is relational and never faces redundancy, unlike the DBMS non-relational data that can fast become redundant. Knowing the differences between the DBMS and RDBMS therefore is the first step in understanding database management.

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