Blockchain is a relatively young concept that implies quite a specific way of storing data. During the last several years, every project with the term ‘blockchain-based’ in the description would automatically attract the attention of a vast majority of users and even achieve a certain share of popularity. To tell the truth though, the employment of this solution is not always justifiable. Its implementation is expensive, and the tasks it’s meant to solve can often be solved by an ordinary database structure.
That notion spawned this article dedicated to the comparative analysis of blockchain vs traditional database. Our goal is to make clear for our readers how to choose between blockchain and database.
Comparative analysis of blockchain vs. traditional database
To make things clear, take a look at the following 5 characteristics which can help you define your preference between blockchain and centralized databases.
As you may already know, traditional databases are based on the client-server network architecture. For the client part of an app/website, any user with the respective access policies installed may manage stored data (view, copy, customize, add, sort, etc.). The performance and configuration of the server part is the responsibility of an administrator. As a rule, admins have more privileges than regular users (in particular, it’s the admins who define user access policies in the first place).
If we’re talking about blockchain, the way it distributes responsibilities among the product users is radically different from that of an ordinary database. Particularly, blockchain participants directly manage support, updates, and new entries. All the nodes of the blockchain platform work in synchronization, and the consensuses are reached based on the majority of user decisions (the so-called voting). Due to the fact that all nodes are physically remote from each other, criminals are simply unable to break into the chain of blocks (it would require hacking not just one node, as in the case of a traditional database, but a lot of them). This makes the blockchain structure much more secure and hack-resistant (read most secure and hack-resistant to date).
Type of management
Being centralized in nature, traditional data storage has tons of cumbersome activities based on various cases. There are a certain number of projects that require a backer that would protect the interests of each party and halt any transactions until all deal obligations are fulfilled. From a security perspective, this third party isn’t the greatest; it could be a potential scammer waiting for access rights to customize data in the most negative way or delete it all.
Blockchain works in a completely different manner. It basically allows transactions to be conducted between two parties without any intermediary whatsoever (i.e. without a central object that manages deals). This is possible due to the consensus mechanism, which allows the transaction only and strictly when it is agreed upon by most trusted nodes.
Data security method
Even the hyper-reliable security systems backing up regular databases cannot be compared with how easily and efficiently blockchain provides full data protection. All the info is encrypted when the data is included in new blocks causing significant network stress-loads. On the other hand, such advanced protection is currently beyond comparison when it comes to the highly secure centralized storage based on the classic access policy distribution system.
However, if your only goal is to achieve confidentiality (without needing to implement a backup mechanism or create backups), in choosing between a private blockchain vs a database, we’d recommend sticking with the latter option.
Range of user capabilities
A regular database provides users with the highest-level access policies with the allowance for four operations: create, read, update, and delete (CRUD).
Blockchain allows only the addition of data (in the form of newly-generated blocks). The previous data isn’t touched in any way in such cases. Therefore, the only possible operations in blockchain are reading and entering.
History data storage type
When a necessity to restore data relevant at a certain moment arises, in the case of traditional databases backups are created. This approach has quite an obvious disadvantage though – every backup duplicates the contents of the entire database, which can be a significant drawback for a large-scale database.
Everything is still different with blockchain. Each block automatically saves within itself everything that has ever been entered. Blocks store both old and new information. Obviously, this approach to data storage approach is less resource-intensive and better overall.
And now the criterion where, surprisingly, the blockchain vs distributed database competition is won by the latter.
Only Moore’s law used to restrict traditional data storage through 2017. Now there is a more advanced technology based on so-called skyrmions – virtual particles based the orientation disturbances of minor magnetic elements, combined with electric fields. So if you require an immediate user response, your best bet would be a traditional database.
Being relatively new, the technology of blockchain hasn’t solved the response speed issue as of yet (e.g., if you want to establish a payment system with the help of a blockchain platform, your users will likely have to wait for half an hour or more for a transaction to be completed, which isn’t a good enough option for retail outlets). Nevertheless, as the technology evolves, this aspect of blockchain is constantly being improved and optimized. News comes out regularly that talks about platforms being launched with a speed of performance (according to their makers’ descriptions) much faster than centralized payment systems (Visa, for instance).
Let’s summarize our blockchain vs database comparison. As you can see, blockchains aren’t a universal ‘cure’, although this tech concept does resolve numerous issues with traditional databases in a number of significant use cases. It is crucial to remember that the development of both blockchain and a centralized database require experts in completely different fields.
So if you are planning to build blockchain-based software, turn to real professionals – to us, for example. Our portfolio includes several dozen business solutions on blockchain. We will handle your project expertly and meet your every requirement. Want to discuss the details? Contact us!