What is the Difference Between Spreadsheet and Database

The main difference between Spreadsheet and Database is that the Spreadsheet is a computer application that helps to arrange, manage and calculate data, while Database is a collection of related data that is organized in a way to access data easily.  

Generally, data is important for small to large scale organizations. Senior managers and business analysts use data to make business decisions. Spreadsheet and database are two methods to store data. Overall, a database is capable of storing a large amount of data than a spreadsheet.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is a Spreadsheet
-Definition, Functionality
2. What is a Database
– Definition, Functionality
3. Difference Between Spreadsheet and Database
-Comparison of key differences

Key Terms

Database, Spreadsheet

Difference Between Spreadsheet and Database - Comparison Summary

What is a Spreadsheet

Spreadsheet is a computer application. It allows organizing, analyzing and storing data in a table form. Spreadsheet application is a standard feature of an office productive suite and is similar to paper based accounting worksheet. Therefore, most business organizations use spreadsheet instead of keeping paper based accounts. Moreover, a Spreadsheet worksheet consists of cells and each cell can store data. User can store numeric or textual data.

Difference Between Spreadsheet and Database

Spreadsheet provides multiple advantages. Firstly, there are arithmetic and mathematical functions to perform calculations. Secondly, there are built in functions to perform common financial and statistical operations. Thirdly, there are conditional expressions, functions to convert between text and numbers and functions to operate on strings of text. Furthermore, user can create charts for analytical tasks.

There are various spreadsheet applications. LANPAR was the first electronic spreadsheet on the mainframe and time sharing computers. Whereas, on a microcomputer, VisiCalc was the first electronic spreadsheet, and for DOS operating system, Lotus 1-2-3 was the common spreadsheet. Today, the commonly used spreadsheet for Windows and Macintosh platforms is Excel.

What is Database

Database is a collection of related data. The main objective of using a database is store and manipulates data easily. A school can maintain a database to store records of students, teachers, courses and exams.

Main Difference - Spreadsheet vs Database

Database Management System (DBMS) is a software that allows creating and managing databases. A user can perfrom multiple tasks such as creating databases, inserting, updating, deleting and retrieve data using DBMS. Furthermore, a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) is a DBMS based on the relational model. Each database stores data in tables. For instance, a university database can have tables for students, lecturers and courses. Moreover, most RDBMS provide Graphical User Interface (GUI) to perform operations on the database. Also, the programmer can use Structured Query Language (SQL) to manage data. For example, MySQL, SQL Server, and Oracle are some common RDBMS.

Difference Between Spreadsheet and Database


A spreadsheet is an interactive computer application for the organization, analysis, and storage of data in tabular form. But, a database is an organized collection of data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. Thus, this is the main difference between Spreadsheet and database.


Moreover, a spreadsheet is accessed directly by a user, whereas a database is accessed either by a user or by an application to enter or modify data. Hence, this is another difference between spreadsheet and database.

Data Storage

Besides, a database can store more data than a spreadsheet.


Furthermore, spreadsheet is used for accounting tasks, while a database is used in large enterprises to store lot of data.


In brief, spreadsheet and database are two methods to store data. However, the main difference between spreadsheet and database is that the spreadsheet is a computer application that helps to arrange, manage, and calculate data, while the database is a collection of related data that is organized in way to access data easily. 


1.“Spreadsheet.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Apr. 2019, Available here.
2.“What Is Data?” Studytonight, Available here.
3.“What Is a Spreadsheet?” Computer Hope, 13 May 2019, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1.”Einfache Tabellenkalkulation.” By D235 – Selbst erstellt mit OpenOffice.org 2, original upload at http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Spreadsheet.png (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2.”149760″ via Pixabay

About the Author: Lithmee

Lithmee holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems Engineering and is reading for her Master’s degree in Computer Science. She is passionate about sharing her knowldge in the areas of programming, data science, and computer systems.

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