If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Blockchain, a technology that’s being promoted as the solution to just about every transaction problem the world is facing today. Many individuals who are new to the technology often wonder if there is any difference between a Blockchain and a database, given how popular it has become in recent years and its numerous applications.
Many individuals dismiss a Blockchain as “simply another database,” claiming that its features can be achieved using more traditional, tried-and-true technology. The only difference between a Blockchain and a database, according to cynics, is the hype surrounding the former.
A Blockchain is actually more than just a database, as you will see momentarily. The goal of this post is to provide a detailed comparison of a Blockchain and a Database. It’s helpful to think about what these two notions are and how they’re developed and maintained to grasp the differences between them.
What is a Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows a group of peers to collaborate to form a single, decentralized network. With the help of the consensus algorithm, peers can communicate and share information or data. Furthermore, there is no need for a single authority, making the entire network more trustworthy than other networks.
Let’s look at a real-world scenario to see how blockchain works. A transaction is created when one peer provides data to another. The transactions must be validated using the consensus algorithm if this occurs.
Proof of Work is utilised to validate the work in this situation. It prevents any invalid transactions from being added to the blockchain. Blocks are the foundation of blockchain technology. They’re used to keep track of transactions and other vital data needed to keep the blockchain running smoothly.
Each transaction is given a timestamp to ensure that it can be tracked, backed up, and validated by anyone. The system as a whole adds value and introduces new features like transparency, immutability, and security.
What is a Database?
A database is a type of central ledger that is managed by an administrator who has the ability to read, write, update, and delete data. A database is a data structure that allows organisations to store and manipulate information.
The original database architecture was built on a hierarchical structure that allowed data to be collected and stored. Data has become more complex in recent years, and a typical database employs a client-server architecture, with clients being users of a service that requests data access, which is routed through a server that hosts the database. As a result, a user can add or alter data stored on the server, but only after the administrator has validated the client’s credentials and allowed access.
The secret records of a hospital, bank ledgers, and an organization’s corporate data are examples of databases under the control of a trusted, central authority. A database’s main distinguishing feature is that it is a centralized network.
Blockchain vs. Database: The similarity
There not as many similarities between blockchain and databases as there are differences. The major similarity between the two is that they both digitally store data. While the blockchain is decentralized and databases are not, they both fundamentally do the same thing which is to collect and store data.
Blockchain vs. Database: The differences
Now that we’ve defined and described what a Blockchain and a database are, as well as their similarity, let’s look at how they vary. The following are the primary distinctions between the two technologies.
Traditional databases are centralized in that they are hosted on a single server and cannot be downloaded by users. The chosen authority retains database control, which verifies the client’s credentials before giving access to the database. As a result, the database’s operation and management are in the hands of a single person or a small group of people.
The Blockchain, on the other hand, is meant to function with the input of every network user. In other words, peers in the system can communicate information without the need for a central administrator’s monitoring or consent. A majority of the nodes must agree before any information can be added to a block. This consensus is what ensures the network’s security and makes it tough to hack.
Permissions are used to run databases. The database administrator can specify which ‘users’ are allowed to communicate with the database. Clients attempting to access the database must meet the administrator’s criteria for an ideal user. As a result, a database is designed to limit the number of people who may access it, because a user must meet certain criteria in order to access or add data to the database.
Because there are no regulations that decide who the ideal user is, blockchain can simply be referred to as a permission-less network. Anyone with a computer can access the Blockchain and read the data stored on it at any time. Although there are various types of Blockchain, the rules that govern them decide who has access to view and update information. In general, network participants can instantaneously access the Blockchain whenever they wish.
This is a significant disadvantage of databases since the information stored in them is not secure. Hackers may use a single gap to illegally access critical data and destroy the enterprise’s operations unless the entire structure is standardised and properly monitored.
When comparing Blockchain to databases, the former comes out on top since it is more secure. Rather than relying on a central server, Blockchain works by distributing a copy of the chain to each node for the purpose of validating blocks. Where there is a lack of consistency from a node, the technology will detect the anomaly and repair any incorrect data automatically.
If a network peer turns rogue and decides to modify data on the network, the network will readjust itself based on the chain copy shared by all other nodes. To tamper with a network, a rogue peer needs at least 51 percent of the nodes, which is nearly impossible due to the large amount of computational power required.
Append-only by design
Databases are made to allow for the addition, modification, and deletion of data. With a Blockchain, however, this is not the case. Data can’t be changed, updated, or withdrawn from a block once it’s been added to the chain. The data is tacked onto the entire chain in such a way that everything that has been recorded on the data has a historical record. To put it another way, Blockchain just has one operation: insert, and anything is contributed to it becomes immutable and transparent to all.
A client/server design is used in a typical database, which has shown to be useful for both small and large-scale businesses. The clients in this approach act as users or consumers, while the server acts as a producer. Clients can thus ask for and receive services from a server, which serves as a centralized processing unit.
The distributed ledger technology architecture of blockchain, on the other hand, is used. This implies it works as a peer-to-peer network, with each peer employing safe cryptographic protocols to connect with the others. Each peer holds a copy of the original chain, acting as a form of network server (called nodes) that validates the transaction block. Each node can also carry out mining operations or a combination of the two.
Although blockchain can be regarded a type of database in the sense that it can store data, it is incorrect to compare it to a traditional database. The distinctions between a Blockchain and a database are stark, and their variances allow them to serve a variety of purposes. In the end, it doesn’t matter which technology wins the Blockchain vs. Database conflict; what counts is how relevant they are to your objectives. Before deciding whether to use a Blockchain or a regular database, every company must first determine what it wants.
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