DBMS vs RDBMS: Definitions, Differences, and a Comparison Table

What is DBMS?

DBMS stands for database management system; the general definition of DBMS says that it's a software system that lets users create, maintain, and control access to databases and the data contained within. All manipulations with databases and actual data can be performed with database tools of varying complexity. Database management systems are usually divided into four main types: hierarchical, network, object-oriented, and relational.

What is RDBMS?

RDBMS stands for relational database management system — the most flexible and widespread type of DBMS. In the relational model, data is arranged and stored in inter-related tables consisting of columns and rows; each field in a table represents a data value, and each row is identified with a unique key. It is also worth noting here that RDBMS typically uses Structured Query Language to perform all operations with data.

Examples of DBMS and RDBMS

For each RDBMS, there is database software that makes it fast and convenient to retrieve and manage data using an intuitive graphical user interface.

The most popular RDBMS are:

The most popular non-relational DBMS are:

What is the key difference between DBMS and RDMS?

The difference between RDBMS and DBMS is that the former is inarguably the most advanced type of the latter. Traditional hierarchical and network databases are very limited when it comes to data storage, access, and management. On the contrary, the main concept of RDBMS—tabular format, exceptionally flexible relations between tables, and unifying query language—makes it a perfect database model.


DBMS vs RDBMS: a detailed comparison

Now let's proceed to a more detailed comparison; and here it makes sense to compare the basic capabilities of relational and non-relational database models and the way they manage and store data.

Parameter Non-relational DBMS RDBMS
Database structure Hierarchy (parent-child relationship), network (many-to-many relationship), or a collection of objects Tabular format (rows and columns)
Data storage Data is stored in files Data is stored in inter-related tables (see above)
Data access One user at a time Simultaneous access by multiple users with varied user roles
Data inter-relations None Relations between tables via foreign keys
Unifying language None SQL (Structured Query Language)
Data redundancy Common Eliminated with keys and indexes
ACID properties: Atomicity, Concurrency, Isolation, Durability No compliance Full compliance
Client-server architecture No Yes
Distributed databases No Yes
Handling of large amounts of data No Yes
Normalization No Yes
Hardware and software requirements Low Higher

Which one should you use: RDBMS or non-relational DBMS?

With all that's been compared above, it is no wonder that the relational database model is a state-of-the-art solution for modern software products. The well-structured tabular format makes it fast and easy to store, access, and manage any specific data in your databases.

The advantages of RDBMS:

  • Yes Consistent data integrity
  • Yes Reliable backup and recovery
  • Yes Well-maintained security of sensitive data
  • Yes Large communities
  • Yes Fast integration with commercial software products
  • Yes Multifunctional database IDEs for any tasks

The disadvantages of RDBMS:

  • No Relatively high hardware and software costs
  • No Possible complexity of management
  • No Slow execution of complex queries in over-normalized databases
  • No The need for professional expertise to perform routine development and administration tasks

The advantages of non-relational DBMS:

  • Yes Generally low costs
  • Yes High speed of data selection and insertion
  • Yes Rather simple maintenance
  • Yes Easy horizontal scaling
  • Yes Handling via low-resource devices

The disadvantages of non-relational DBMS:

  • No Generally poor usability
  • No Inability to handle complex operations with data
  • No Inconsistent data storage
  • No No security measures
  • No No standardized language

Cases when RDBMS should be used:

  • Your data is well-structured—and the structure itself will not be subject to frequent changes
  • Your system is transaction-based
  • Data integrity and security are your priorities
  • Operations with data must be very flexible (you will use complex queries for that purpose)
  • You don't need to scale your databases dramatically

Cases when non-relational DBMS should be used:

  • You must manage unstructured data that does not fit wellwith the relational model
  • Your data does not have complex inter-relations
  • High speed of select and insert operations is a priority
  • You don't deal with sensitive data and overall don't focus on datasecurity
  • You don't need to perform sophisticated manipulations with your data
  • You require fast and easy horizontal scaling

Still, take note that this is just a general guideline. Any case should be approached individually, with proper consideration of your particular needs and requirements.

Examples of relational database management software

Now let's have an overview of the world's most popular relational database systems along with the best DB software that will make your work with them nearly effortless.

Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server is an advanced proprietary RDBMS with a highly developed infrastructure, tailored well to corporate environments. dbForge Studio for SQL Server is a high-end SQL Server IDE that enhances your SQL coding, offers tools for visual query building and database comparison, as well as covers multiple aspects of database design, development, testing, deployment, and administration.
dbForge Studio for SQL Server


MySQL is the leader among open-source relational database systems with quite a few additional tools and services provided by Oracle. The most advanced MySQL IDE on the market is dbForge Studio for MySQL, which, similarly to its SQL Server counterpart, helps you build queries visually, automate object management, compare and sync databases, analyze table data, and perform various administration tasks.
dbForge Studio for MySQL


The Oracle database system is noted for its complexity and high costs, balanced out by high portability and excellent performance. If you are looking for an Oracle IDE that will help increase your PL/SQL coding speed and provide versatile tools for database development, management, data analysis and reporting, look no further than dbForge Studio for Oracle.
dbForge Studio for Oracle


PostgreSQL is an open-source RDBMS that delivers rich functionality, support for a variety of data types, and storage of schemaless data. The dbForge product line offers a PostgreSQL IDE that empowers you with advanced SQL code completion and formatting, data import/export, visual query building and optimization, data editing, reporting, and much more.
dbForge Studio for PostgreSQL

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