Choosing The Right File Format/Database Spreadsheet

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Databases & Spreadsheets

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Databases are inherently good for long term storage of information. Because of the way they are constructed it is generally easy to extract information and reform it for restorage.

The backbone of standards compliant databases is Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL is not a format for storing database information. It is a format for storing the requests made to a database. In other words a database stores your information and SQL is the language for retrieving that information.

For a long time SQL was being developed in different places by different people and for some time the 1999 version has therefore been widely used as a safe bet. Now SQL:2003 is an ISO/IEC standard and very wisely there are "No changes or conformance requirements - Products conforming to Core SQL:1999 should conform automatically to SQL:2003"[1].

Part of the beauty of the SQL standard is that you can extract your information together with the structural information needed to put that information into another database. The resulting file is often called an 'SQL dump'.


  • Do not use MS Access, it is not a fully functional RDBMS and does not support standards compliant SQL queries.
  • Use a database which can import and export/dump in SQL
  • Check that your SQL is standard SQL:1999 or SQL:2003
  • Backup the information in your database regularly as a TXT file or SQL file