There is a number of great free database software on the market.
They’re perfect if you’re building a small custom build software… or bigger if need.
Hey, most of the internet runs on one of these free database software… they have to be good!
Here’s an evaluation of the major players in this industry. They are all very credible and stable free database software and you can be sure that they will all manage efficiently your system.
Microsoft SQL Server Express
Microsoft SQL Server has been a credible player in the database industry since their SQL Server 2000 version. Since then, they have proved that their system is stable and can manage large enterprise software.
Their free version is very good and can manage small to medium business solution with a couple of hundred of users. Small businesses running a custom software can use SQL Server Express with confidence.
SQL Server is fairly easy to use and does a very good job of managing the whole system through the user interface – this is not the case with all systems.
SQL Server express is well integrated with Microsoft Development tools, like Visual Studio, so it is a good choice for starters or students who want to learn with a fairly easy system. It also works very well with Microsoft Access and the integration of both products is very good. I’ve built small business solutions with this combination and it worked very well.
Download SQL Server Express on the Microsoft website.
SQL Server Express limitations
You can use SQL Server Express on any decent desktop computer or server.
Microsoft SQL Server is limited to 1 CPU, 1GB of RAM and each database is limited to 10GB. SQL Server is only running on Windows.
Oracle is the leader in the database industry. The biggest systems in the world run on Oracle. It is stable, micro-manageable, adaptable and not that easy to use. If you are learning databases, you’ll have a fairly good learning curve before being comfortable.
Their free database system, Oracle Express is very good and will be able to run most small and medium size database solutions.
Oracle Express limitations
Oracle is not a light database. If your plan on installing it on a laptop or an old computer, it may not work. Oracle needs more processing power and more RAM than most database systems.
Oracle Express edition is limited to 1 CPU, 1GB of RAM and each database is limited to 11GB. It runs on Windows as well as Linux.
MySQL is very well known in the open-source development community. It’s a very stable and widely used system. Even if it’s still pretty easy to operate, it is not the most user-friendly database management system.
One of the advantages of using MySQL is that it is cross-platform compatible, which means that it can run on Windows, MAC OS X, Linux and Unix.
PostgreSQL is a powerful open-source database software. It has been active since the end of the ’80’s and is used and updated by a very large community. It’s a very popular open-source database and is it used by major companies to power their system. It is mostly aimed at more experienced database developers.
PostgreSQL runs on all major platforms: Windows,
Linux, Unix and MAC OS X.
Download PostgreSQL on their website
Others database freeware
If you want to build small databases for just a couple of users, you could use OpenOffice Base or Microsoft Access. Technically, they’re not database management system, but they are perfect to build small databases that are shared across a few users.
Which one to choose?
Choosing the right database platform is a personal choice, since they are all good free database software.
If you are a newbie at database development, you should look at Microsoft SQL Server. It is easy to use and offer an easy integration with Microsoft products (Office, Access, Visual Studio, etc.).
If you want to learn the most advanced and most popular database for large systems, choose Oracle.
If you are fairly experienced with databases and computers in general, aim for MySQL or PostgreSQL. Open-source software are often not the most user-friendly and their support – while being great – is often aimed at knowledgeable users. But they do make great products.