If you’re looking for information online, do you look at a database or a search engine? What about when you’re trying to find average selling prices of homes in a particular area? Would a search engine or a database assist you in locating information about a corporate entity?
Database Vs Search Engines – are the terms really different?
Although in rare cases, the terms database and search engine may be used interchangeably, they are certainly very different items. Both can also produce the same end results, although the process to get to those results may (and often do) vary significantly.
A database will have information contained within it that will have smaller, individual records. These individual records will contain information about that individual item and may include a small description of the item. Each of the records or items in the record has a collection of fields that will define the elements of the records. So this means that a database can conceivably have thousands and thousands of records and just as many fields within each record.
Databases can be thought of also as a large, massive collection of information that’s derived from places like journals, magazines, reviews, abstracts or other printed or text material. Databases are extremely useful in certain fields because of the way the information is categorized and maintained. For instance, when a user is searching through a database, he can locate any relevant information of interest by looking at subject headings or information descriptions. Users can also choose to limit or target their searches by using specific field-sensitive keywords like author’s name, title or other limiting criteria. By using this method, the user is able to target their searches and go directly to the information they need without weeding through other non-relevant sources.
Search engines use a computer program or application to locate the information that’s needed. The search engine scours the Internet, locates the requested information and returns that information to the user based on the keywords or search terms that the user entered as parameters.
In many facets, a search engine does behave like databases in that a user can find useful information on businesses, people, and organizations or even for intangible information such as prices, costs, types or other identifiable information. However, search engines may vary slightly from databases in that search engines use a compilation of material that may be found from all over the Internet, while databases return information from sources that already exist in a tangible, hardcopy form, like journals, magazine articles or abstracts.
As for the reliability of either the database or the search engine, both forms of information discovery can contain corrupt information, which is why it’s best to rely only on those sources which are trustworthy and proven. However, depending on the goal of the user, choosing which mechanism to use all depends on what outcome they’re seeking, and in some instances, the type or kind of information that they’re seeking. If a user only wants information that’s derived from magazine articles on a particular subject, it may be advantageous for them to search through a database to find this targeted information. Launching a search engine query to find this kind of information will undoubtedly also contain additional information that may be of no use to the search.
Using a search engine to find groups or categories of information is better for this task instead of relying on a database of information. That’s because a search engine will crawl sites and target this information more carefully and thoroughly than perhaps a standard database.
There are several online databases also which contain much of the information found in search engine launches. For this reason, users should always check the originating source for their launches to be sure they are getting good information.