Databases

General learning resources

Products learning resources

Design

I realize that when you say "database" you're probably thinking of some sort of relational database management system, but thinking of your text file as a database changes your question from "when should I use a database?" to "what kind of database should I use?" Seeing things in that light makes the answer easier to see: use a better database when the one you've got no longer meets your requirements

use a DBMS when it's what you need. Use it when you have a lot of data, when you need to be able to access that data quickly and perhaps in ways that you can't entirely predict at the outset. If you have different kinds of data -- different types of records -- that are connected to each other, use a RDBMS so that you can relate the various records appropriately.

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