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Database Server Products – Different Servers


Free Offerings. 1

Propriety (Paid for) Databases. 1

Microsoft Access. 1

Microsoft SQL Server (2017). 1

MySQL (5.7). 1

Oracle (12c). 1

PostgreSQL (9.5.4). 1

IBM DB2 (11.1). 1

SQLite. 1


Free Offerings

There are obviously good quality open source products out there but don’t forget, all the top proprietary databases (that you can pay for) include a free edition that you are perfectly legal to use in production but it may have some built in physical limitations (like maximum database size).

Free software does not come with any traditional support, you can’t phone a hot line, but web searches and forums can normally help you out.

Be realistic about limits, don’t just dismiss the limited products without thinking about if you will ever reach those limits. For many small and medium solutions, you may be well within these limits.

Database Name

Version Discussed

Type (Port/extension)


Max DB Size

Max RAM Utilized (GB)

Max CPU utilized

MySQL CE (Community Edition)


Server (3306)

Open Source

product limit

product limit

product limit

Microsoft SQL Server Express


Server (1433)

Windows Only

10 GB

1 GB

4 cores



Server (5432)

Open Source

product limit

product limit

product limit

Oracle XE (Express Edition)


Server (1521)

Harder to learn

11 GB

1 GB


IBM DB2 Express-C (Community)


Server (50000)

Harder to learn

15 TB

16 GB

2 cores



File (.s3db)

Open Source

product limit

product limit

product limit


The top 3 in this list are all very similar to get to grips with; they are simple to install, manage, and operate. Unless you require a file based database (SQLite) then choose one of these top 3.

Although MySQL has no limits you may still choose SQL Server, provided your usage is under the limits, just because you prefer Microsoft products (It does integrate with the OS well).

Of the 2 open source servers MySQL is much more popular than PostgreSQL, they both have their pros and cons, depends on what you’re doing, but generally speaking MySQL will do the job. You could even use both products and split your tables into the database server that best suits that particular data.

The Oracle and DB2 Express editions are less obvious choices, they are a bit harder to pick up from scratch, but you may have a good reason to choose them, like you may already know them well.

NOTE: The Oracle XE edition is currently a version behind the standard database product.

Interestingly IBM DB2 Express-C has very generous limits at a 15,000 GB maximum database size and 16 GB RAM utilization it’s a load more than the other proprietaries.

Propriety (Paid for) Databases

These are the top 4 proprietary server databases. They are available in several editions (standard, enterprise) all offering higher limits and serious features like redundancy and clustering as well as formal support.

·         MySQL

·         Microsoft SQL Server

·         Oracle

·         IBM DB2

NOTE: MySQL is open source it is owned by Oracle and they provide editions that you pay for and get support as well as extra enterprise features.

Microsoft Access

Access is a file based database, just like SQLite, with a client program that is part of the Office suite that you have to pay for. Database maximum size is limited to 2GB, it is not suitable for more than a few concurrent users with light usage.

The client is pretty handy, you can create and alter tables, enter and edit data directly, create forms, reports, all sorts. It can be used to build totally stand-alone (within Access) solutions; the database file can be put on a file share then multiple users (no more than a hand full) can open the database with their Access clients.

Your application can use Access like any other database through the OLEDB .net data provider.

It’s not an obvious choice for a back end data store but maybe you have good reason. The simplicity of the single database file means you can drag the database to your laptop and take it home, perhaps to produce a mail merge or just look through the figures. This is a very simple way to work “off line” that may suit some situations.

One more thing about access; it makes a pretty good general purpose client for accessing database servers just to use it for looking at your data, it seems to handle largish datasets pretty well, it works much better than using VS or SSMS to view tables with loads of rows. Connect through ODBC.

Microsoft SQL Server (2017)

If you are running on Windows and think you always will then make SQL Server your first chose, if your requirements can use the express edition, or you have the cash for other editions.

Don’t overlook the Express edition because the limitations look a little restricted. It will be fine in many small and medium business environments. It is legal to use the express edition in production.

The management software is called “SQL Server Management Studio” (SSMS). You are best to download the latest version for free from Microsoft. You can use SSMS with any edition of the server.

Runs well on Windows. Client software built in. Simple to use. Can use Windows Authentication (password-less connection strings)

MySQL (5.7)

The most used open source database in the world. Currently owned by Oracle. If you can’t or don’t want to use SQL Server, then this should be your first choice.

The management software is called “MySQL Workbench”. If you’ve used Microsoft SSMS before then using Workbench is not that different, you should pick it up pretty quick.

Databases are called schemas in MySQL.

Runs on any OS. Simple to use. Free version has no limits.

Oracle (12c)

The most used database in the world. Not for the faint hearted, it will punish those without previous experience.

Unless you have a really good reason I would not recommend this as a first choice for a new system.

There is a free express edition that is much simpler to use than the other editions. Only thing is the jump from using express to other editions is quiet a big one (Don’t think you’ve mastered Oracle because you’ve used XE).

Editions Available:

·         Oracle Database Express Edition (Oracle Database XE)     Free – Limits RAM to 1Gb & CPU to 1. Maximum database size 4Gb.

·         Standard Version             Can download install and use for development

·         Serious Versions… (see oracle web site) Serious Cash

Instances are called databases in Oracle the default is “ORCL” or “XE” is the express edition.

Databases are called schemas in Oracle.

The XE edition installs a management web at:

Runs on any OS. Popular. Many enterprise features (If you can afford them)

Hard to Use. Expensive. Memory footprint (XE unloaded uses 0.5GB, standard 2.5GB)

PostgreSQL (9.5.4)

Is the next most popular open source database after MySQL.

If you have a good reason to use it over MySQL, then go for it. It

After install the “Application Stack builder” can be used to install additional components. To can just quit it if the database server and management program (pdAdmin) is all you need.

The management software is called “pgAdmin” pretty easy to figure out similar to SSMS and Workbench.

Change installed options with “Application Stack Builder” noting there for diagrams

IBM DB2 (11.1)

IBM DB2 Express-C (Community) Edition

IBM DB2 Express-C is a no-charge community edition of the DB2 data server. It is ideal for small businesses and multi-branch companies, as well as developers and business partners who serve these clients.


SQLite is server-less database.


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