How to share a database with someone?

A database is an organized collection of data records that is often updated on a regular basis. As there are more and more software applications we use, data is also piling up from these applications. Many data driven teams today face the challenge of distributing data insights within teammates in a timely, secure and efficient manner.

If you happen to have a huge database to share with your colleagues, there are several options you may or may not have heard of.  

1. Share a database by using a network/shared folder

share_a_database_with_a_network/shared_folder
share a database with a network/shared folder

One way to share a database is to put it in a shared network folder. Although this is quite simple to do for any company that has a good IT infrastructure,  it is also the most limited. Before you consider this method, consider the following limitations

  • Users may or may not be able to access the database on a network folder
  • The database may need to be exported to a flat file, thus it won’t update
  • No memo fields are present in the database, or if they are, they will not be available to multiple users at the same time
  • All recipients may acquire the full file, it may increase the risk of unauthorized access, and usage

Sharing data on a network folder and even Google Drive or Dropbox may not guarantee that your recipients can access the database itself. Your recipient may need a proper application to open it. Often, he/she will need to download it first, and then open it with a proper application.

Another critical issue with a flat-file shared in a folder is that it will not update. The owner may choose to update these files manually but it may take a lot of effort as the number of the files grows.

Additionally, a flat-file anywhere is easy to share and replicate. The recipients of a shared folder can easily download the file and distribute it to a third party. This is hard to prevent since more often than not, the file needs to be downloaded before the recipient works on them.

2. Share a database by using a GUI-based admin

share_a_database_by_using_a_GUI_based_admin
share a database by using a GUI-based admin

Similar to a network folder. If all the computers are in the same network, then you can access the database using the IP address of the computer that has the database. You can also enable remote access.

When sharing data in a database admin software such as MySQL workbench, MS Access, or SQLite, the users can benefit from some key advantages in comparison to a network folder.

  • Since the data is now stored as an organized collection of records, it should be readily available for access, retrieval, and transformations even if the file is larger.
  • Data should now be updated and maintained logically by the admin/sender
  • User accesses and privileges can be defined and controlled by the owner/admin of the database.

A database can store a large amount of data since it’s structured and organized for computation. Millions of rows of records can directly be queried and retrieved in a database. A database administrator can also set permission control & privilege for each recipient so unauthorized usage can be monitored and prevented.

3. Share a database by using a cloud-based database

share_database_on_acho
hare a database on acho

A cloud-based database or data warehouse is designed to store a large amount of data. Compared to a local database, it offers a few key advantages.

  • It can help store a larger amount of data thanks to distributed computing
  • The users do not need to access the DB in the same network environment
  • Multi-user access control can be defined more granularly on a web environment

In addition to a local database, a cloud-based database or data warehouse can store even more data. Processing these records can also be much faster with cloud computing. If your file contains millions of records, a cloud-based database can deliver 3x to 10x more performances compared to a local database.

Since the database is stored on the cloud, both sender and receiver can access them without having to be in the same network with the same IP address. No VPN or remote access authorization is required, the cloud database can deliver the same speed and performance for all users granted access.

Most cloud databases can be accessed via a web interface. Compared to a desktop application, this gives users more flexibility when it comes to defining roles and permission privileges. Take Acho Studio as an example, you can custom roles and restrict certain features as a project owner.  

Below is a table that compares database sharing via 3 different methods covered in this article:


Network folder 

GUI-based DB admin 

Cloud database

Accessibility (both sender and recipient can access the DB)

Multi-user security & access control 

Speed and availability 

depends on file size 

requires users to be in the same network

Instantly available everywhere

Up-to-date data records

Annotations and memo field