Both spreadsheets and databases are used for managing data. The computer-age brought about these new applications that could perform complex calculations and print out the data. Currently, Microsoft, Excel, and Lotus 1-2-3 are the most commonly used spreadsheet applications. Databases organize information on a specific subject utilizing tables of information entered for various purposes. Data can be gathered by querying, sorting, filtering, etc. Databases also use records to structure the tables. Databases can sometimes be trickier to learn for basic applications.
Many companies make use of both databases and spreadsheets. For example, a company might need to print invoices and track customers' contact information (spreadsheet), but they also need to quickly determine what an increase/decrease in prices of sales would do to the company (database).
Basically, use a database for:
- information in a large amount that is unmanageable in spreadsheet form
- maintaining records for ongoing use
- the subject information changes often (addresses, price, etc.)
- generating reports
Use a spreadsheet for:
- crunching numbers and performing automatic calculations