The comparison Data Base Management System Vs. File Systems is essential  to store data efficiently and easily. First understand what is a file system.

What is a File System?

With evolution of computers, data preservation and processing is considered a major application of computers. The initial attempts for data preservation were in a file system which was similar to manual filing system that has been in existence in organizations and firms.

File systems emerged as a mechanism of storing and organizing the data in the form of computer files. Their naming and storage in a directory structure was done to make the files easy to locate and access. Files systems were rather physical in nature.  They were stored on common storage devices like hard drives, disks and CD ROMs.

The storage of data in files systems was transparent to the user. If the data needs to be transferred to another storage device, It was a quite a task for the data administrators. File systems are very efficient for data storage and access in case the amount of data is not huge and access needs are not very demanding.

The large amount of data can also be stored efficiently in a file system. The problem occurs if the data needs to be referenced from one file to another or requires processing in a complex way. In such situations the file system may not prove to be very dependable and performance efficient.

Take an example of an educational institute which runs various courses. In such a scenario the data about students, the courses in which they are enrolled and their fee details may be stored in different files. If a report is required to list down all students in all courses who are defaulters in fee payment, it will be a difficult process to refer records from these three different files with non-integrated data.

Characteristics of File Systems

To understand the file systems and how they can be beneficial for specific data storage and accessing, here is a list of characteristics of File Systems.

  • The data for an organization is stored in a collection of files stored on a storage device.
  • The files containing the data are independent in existence in relation to each other.
  • The type of files and the data access techniques depends on the computer and OS.
  • Each file is defined to contain data about a specific activity, event, function or entity of the organization for which the data is being stored.
  • If files are to be read by the programs or applications then the files must be created in the format and type the programs are able to access and manipulate. The programs are usually developed in C, C++, java etc.
  • To access and process the data contained in flat files of a file system, the access methods are written in the applications developed using the specific programming language. If physical implementation of file or the program is changed then rework involved is very intensive. The programmers have to alter the codes and access techniques to a great extent.
  • File system is rigid in storage and access mechanism. So, as the programs and applications become complex, the file system may pose a lot of implementation issues due to inflexibility.

Limitations of File Systems

  • Being flat files, the data may be stored in separate files differently by different users or programmers. Such files differ in formats and often have redundant content that may become inconsistent if the update of data is not done carefully. Maintaining copies of data files is a big drawback of file systems and these multiple copies may contain data components that do not agree with each other.
  • The files in file system are independent so the data remains isolated. To process data stored in multiple files the programmers have to create complex codes as the files do not offer any mechanism to connect and relate the data.
  • It’s is not possible to apply any integrity constraints on the data stored in file system.
  • In case an application fails while a transaction is under execution to update a data file, the incomplete transaction may leave the data in inconsistent state. There is no facility to control transactions in case of file systems.
  • The files storing the data are inflexible in storage and access mechanisms. The files are flat and isolated. So, it is difficult to present different views of data to satisfy different needs of users. This poses the problem of security as well. All or no data will be available to users.

Data Base Management System Vs. File Systems

Criteria File Systems Database Management System
Data Quantity Works efficiently for small amount of data DBMS is an efficient system for large amount of data
Financial Implication to organization Economical Expensive
Count of files Many few
Storage structure Simple Complex
Redundancy of data High Low
Data Consistency Low High
Sharing of data Nil or Low, Single user High, multi-user environment
Integrity constraints Depends on Programmer or application developer Inbuilt mechanism for Integrity Checking
Security Low Highly secure at various levels
Backup procedure Simple Sophisticated inbuilt backup and recovery procedures and tools