Databases provide an efficient way to store, retrieve and analyze data. While system files can function similarly to databases, they are far less efficient. Databases are especially important for business and research.
Databases are older than many people realize. By the mid-1960s, businesses and governments were using simple databases for storing and retrieving information on rudimentary storage systems. In the 1970s, the relationship database model was developed, and much of the language used in modern database programming was developed during this time period. SQL databases have dominated the field ever since.
Computers can perform calculations far faster than humans, and they use programmed logic to make decisions. However, computers are also capable of storing a tremendous amount of information, and the amount of data computers can store continues to increase. Databases are at the forefront of making this information available to programs and to computers.
Most medium and large companies rely on databases for storing customer information. They also use them to store accounting information. Researchers use databases, as well. Some of the largest databases in the world store weather information. There are simply too many weather data points for humans to analyze, and finding signs of small but significant climate shifts would be impossible without databases.