The Flat File Method of Data Storage: Video
This video discusses the flat-file method of data storage popular in programs like Excel. This helps to contrast it with relation data storage models, like the ones used by Access.
The Flat File Method of Data Storage: Overview
Access is a relational database application. So what does the term relational mean, and how is this important? The term relational describes the method used for storing data within the database tables. However, it may be easier to understand the relational model of data storage by contrasting it with another method of storage that you may be more familiar with: the ‘flat-file’ method.
Information is frequently stored in large ‘flat-files.’ For example, assume that you want to create a database file that stores your company’s customer information. You would begin by listing the different attributes of the customer that you wish to record. You may want to record customer information like the “first name,” the “last name,” the “company name,” and other relevant pieces of information. Perhaps you could create a table in an application like Microsoft Excel where you can create columns for each piece of information that you wish to record. You can then list each customer’s information in the rows underneath the columns, creating a basic table.
For many types of databases, the structure shown would work well. This is a ‘flat-file’ list or table. What you are doing when using this type of database is recording a single piece of information, like the “FirstName,” “LastName,” or “Address,” about a single entity- in this example, a customer. The reason that this type of data structure works well in the example given is because for each entity (the customer), you are only recording information that has a “1 to 1” relationship to the entity.