Which Database for Your Website: Questions To Ask


The right database can make or break your website. Your website management team needs to be able to access and manipulate data quickly and efficiently to create a functional website that displays the correct information to people on the other side of the screen. 

Organizational tools, including boxed databases, help your web managers quickly access what they need to make updates, add pages to your site, and much more.

You have a few options, so you’ll need to learn how to choose the right database for website hosting and management. 

What Are Boxed Database Options for Websites? 

Also known as open-source relational databases, boxed databases are existing database management systems. If you’re like many businesses, you may already be using SQL databases, such as MySQL or a similar boxed database to run components on your website. 

Relational databases are commonly used to manage customer information, website traffic, inventory, shipping, and other aspects of your website. When using a relational database, the data points are organized into rows and columns and related to one another. 

For example, if you operate a restaurant and have an online reservation system, you would use a relational database to log customer data into your reservation system and update the available number of tables at a given time. 

Pros and Cons of Using Boxed Databases

There are many advantages and disadvantages to using boxed databases on your website. 


  • Boxed databases are easy to set up and manage. Since the architecture is already there, you can easily populate data without worrying about coding.
  • These databases offer a wide range of prebuilt features and functionalities. Vendors have created boxed databases for use in many industries, so there is likely a product that fits your needs. 
  • You have access to customer support from the vendor to help with setup and management or in case the database crashes. 


  • Their existing architecture means many boxed databases offer limited web development options. 
  • You may run into scalability issues as your business grows. 
  • You are reliant on the vendor for security and performance updates instead of being able to identify and fix bugs on your own. 

Considering a Custom Database

If you have some coding knowledge and think you can easily learn how to create a database-driven website, you might consider building a custom one


  • Your own database-driven website allows you to add all the data you need to one program, saving time when you need to access data quickly.
  • You can limit access to your custom database and store it securely, helping keep important customer information and other sensitive data safe. 
  • A custom database gives you the option to consolidate information from multiple sources. Instead of being limited to what you can enter into existing fields, you can add analytics information, social media posts, geographical points, and more simply by importing the data. 


  • Setting up and maintaining a custom database is time-consuming and can be costly. 
  • Depending on how you store your databases, they might be vulnerable to hacking and other security breaches. 
  • Your custom databases might not be compatible with your existing data infrastructure, meaning you can’t run queries or reports on the data. 

Questions To Ask When Choosing a Database for Your Website

Here are a few considerations that may help you decide whether a boxed database or a custom database is better for you.

Purpose and Requirements

First, consider why you need your database. How you need to store and manage your data will help you determine which type of database is right for your needs. For example, if you work for a pharmaceutical company and need to store patient information and results for multiple medical trials, you will require a more complex system than a small retailer tracking customer orders and shipping details. 

Ask these questions to help narrow down your choice. 

1. What data will the website store and manage? 

The answer to this question will help you assess your need for storage capacity, performance capabilities, query patterns, types of data value, web pages, and other factors.

A boxed solution might be preferable for simple data such as customer names, addresses, and orders since you can easily set up the database and populate the data. 

2. How complex is the data structure? 

If you’re working with a simple data structure, you’re probably better off with a boxed database solution in which you can input data. A custom solution is likely a better fit if your data structures are complex, with multiple data points and dependencies. 

3. What are the expected read and write loads? 

Command and query responsibility segregation (CQRS) is common when your website needs separate databases to handle commands (write database structured query language) and queries (read database or query language).

For example, if a customer looks at their credit card statement, that would be a read. However, if they make a payment, that would be a write. In general, databases use less effort to process reads than they do writes. Knowing whether your database needs to be more read-heavy or write-heavy will help you choose which one to use. 

Integration and Compatibility

You’ve already developed a sleek and responsive website, but now you must add a database to improve functionality. Before choosing a database, consider how it integrates with your existing infrastructure, or you could break your site. 

Consider these factors. 

1. Does the database integrate with the chosen web development framework

If not, your customers and employees may be unable to use your website as intended. You may be using a database to track how people interact with your website. If the database is incompatible with your website framework, you may not be able to access this information. If you’re choosing a boxed database option, look for one compatible with your website framework. Make sure you select the right language and framework if you’re customizing your database. 

2. Are there any specific language or technology requirements? 

Many databases are built with SQL or some variation. However, you may also find boxed databases or custom options that use Python, PHP, or R. You might be able to edit boxed database options without learning a programming language, but working knowledge is helpful for troubleshooting problems. 

Depending on how much data you need to store and your security needs, you might consider a cloud-based platform to customize your database. Data processors and memory are other technological considerations that can impact your choice of database. 

3. Will the database be able to connect with other systems or APIs easily? 

Your website will likely use multiple databases for different applications and functions. Each system should be able to communicate for a seamless user experience. If you already have multiple databases, choose a similar boxed database to create new ones. 

Scalability and Performance

Depending on your needs, you may need to scale your database up or down. Ask these scalability and performance questions to choose the right database for you. 

1. Is the database capable of handling future growth? 

At the moment, you may need a simple database with limited data points. However, as your business grows and you add customers, you need a database that can grow with you. Consider overall capacity and scalability before settling on a database, particularly if you’re going with a boxed option. 

2. How does the database perform under heavy loads? 

If multiple customers log in to your website at once and start making inquiries, it can impact website performance. For example, if you run a promotional ad with a coupon code that’s only valid for a limited time, a database that folds under heavy loads might crash your website. Consider a boxed database that can handle high traffic volume or customize it. 

3. Are there any limitations or bottlenecks to consider? 

Some databases slow down with too many trivial tasks or queries containing redundant or obsolete data. With many databases, you can cache queries and clean out the cache later, preventing bottlenecks from slowing your website. Consider these and other processing limitations, like the ability to handle multiple users on your site. 

Security and Reliability

Security is a top priority for customers in today’s marketplace. Over half of consumers have become more concerned about their data in the past few years. You have the responsibility of keeping customer data safe. 

You also need a database that is easily backed up in case you lose your hardware. Protect your data by asking these questions. 

1. What security measures does the database provide?  

There are multiple ways to secure data, including cloud-based servers, two-factor authentication, data encryption, and user permissions. Because most security features are still prone to breaches when used alone, multiple security features will protect your data better, regardless of whether you’re using a boxed database or a custom option. Look for databases that have a variety of measures to keep your information safe and secure. 

2. Does it have backup and disaster recovery mechanisms? 

Emergencies happen, and there is no way to prepare for all of them. You might experience a flood, fire, or other disaster at your office and lose your main web server or web hosting service. You may find yourself a victim of a clever hacker. 

When the unexpected does happen, you want a database management system with sound backup and data recovery mechanisms so you can get back up and running fast. 

3. How reliable is the database in terms of uptime and data integrity? 

If you’re not well-versed in what to look for in a reliable database, here is the lowdown. Database reliability refers to the ability of your database to perform consistently. Choose a boxed database with high-reliability ratings so your website doesn’t go down when people need it. If you’re building a custom database, run tests before you publish it, and track user feedback. 

Uptime is the time in which your database is available without going down or being interrupted. A boxed database with better uptime will keep your site running smoothly more of the time. 

Data integrity refers to different factors, including its overall accuracy, completeness, and consistency. You may also be required to comply with various data security regulations, which can impact data integrity. Choose a database that gives you control over user permissions to limit how many people can manipulate your data. 

Cost and Budget

All the factors you’ve evaluated up to now play a role in cost and budget. Expect to pay more for a highly customizable database that can handle heavy data loads without impacting performance. It’s best to set a budget you can realistically afford and find a database that meets most of your criteria and falls within your desired cost range. 

These questions can also help you assess your budget. 

1. What is the initial cost of the database? 

Consider the cost of the software itself and the labor hours required to set up and manage the database. 

2. Are there any ongoing licensing or subscription fees? 

Even if you’re customizing a website database, you may need to pay a subscription fee for the software you need to build and maintain the database. For boxed databases, you may be able to purchase the platform once and use it. However, you might not be able to update it later. In this case, your database may become obsolete and fail to integrate with newer technology. Consider a subscription in which you can always update your database to the latest version. 

3. Does the database require additional hardware or software investments? 

If you’re building a database for a lot of data, you might need to upgrade your servers or give your IT staff computers with faster processors. 

A boxed database may require additional software purchases to make the database compatible with the rest of your website infrastructure. Calculate these costs before choosing a database. 

Create a Website With Elevato

Databases can crash your website or severely hinder the user experience. So it’s important to pick one that offers all the capabilities you need for your site to function optimally. 

You can also skip the hassle of picking a database and let Elevato build your website. Our team of experts has extensive experience with database architecture. We know what it takes to construct and manage databases of all types. We work with a variety of stacks to develop the right solution for your business. Let us handle your database needs and optimize your data to help your team function more efficiently. Schedule a consultation today.