With plenty of options available in conventional and modern database applications, it is challenging for the mobile application developers to choose an ideal database for their applications. Whether you make a new mobile application or upgrading your existing apps with more features, the selection of database is a crucial aspect which decides the performance of your app. There is a possibility that your current database may not be sufficient to handle the increasing number of users and handle the load of your updates. In this blog, we will discuss some basic criteria developers need to consider for choosing a database for their mobile apps.
Best mobile app databases
First, we will have a quick overview of some of the most popular databases for Android and iPhone apps. Then we will discuss the considerations to make for choosing the most appropriate database for your requirements.
- MySQL: It is a long-existing and widely popular open-source database. It is a multi-threaded and SQL based relational database.
- PostgreSQL: Another robust open-source relational database, which is object-based and mostly customizable.
- MongoDB: This is a new-age schema-less database, which is a JSON document-based. Being a NoSQL database, it is highly scalable and flexible.
- Redis: This database is also open source, which demands only low maintenance. It features a key/value storage that can be effectively used for caching in mobile apps.
- MariaDB: This is an open-source, relational database, from the same producers of MySQL.
- Memcached: It is a multi-threaded distributed cache system used for effective caching of objects and can speed up the application by alleviating the load on the database.
- SQLite: it is an embedded DB commonly used in local data storage, especially on mobile phones.
- Cassandra: Open-source and free database, which comes under the NoSQL category. It can handle a massive volume of unstructured data and can scale up or down to any level based on the need.
- InfluxDB: Open-source database, which is also a faster, time-series DB based on the Go language.
- RethinkDB: Open-source database, which his document-oriented and can store data in JSON format. It has a real-time synch feature too.
- Couchbase: Full Stack NoSQL DB, which offers offline sync and can run locally on the mobile device. It also features query capabilities and full CRUD.
- Riak DB: A NoSQL distributed database. Offering high availability, data resilience, and fault tolerance are the major features of this DB.
- ArangoDB: This, too, is an open-source database, being NoSQL. It has a multi-model, geo algorithmic feature.
As the choices are many, selecting the right database for your mobile application could be cumbersome. Based on the RemoteDBA.com insights into this topic, let’s explore some general criteria, expert mobile app developers use to choose their apt database.
Things to know before you consider databases
- Know your data structure
You need to understand the structure in which you should store your data to retrieve it. Mobile applications may deal with a wide variety of data formats. Offline mobile apps may store the user data in the mobile device itself, whereas the online apps may connect to a data server for storing the same. E-commerce applications are examples of online apps. There are also synchronized apps, which store the data on the local device while offline and then update the same onto the server when connected to the internet from time to time.
- Know your data size
Along with structure, you also need to know the size of data, i.e., the quantity of data that you want to store as critical app data and retrieve when needed. This data volume may vary based on the combination of:
- Chosen data structure, and
- Database’s ability to differentiate data among various file systems and data servers.
Based on these, you need to choose a database by considering the total volume of data generated through your mobile applications for a specific time and the need for data volume to be retrieved from the website.
- Know the speed needed and scale
Speed refers to the time taken to honor the incoming read queries and writes to the data application. Some applications must be read-heavy, whereas some others may have to be write heavy. Selecting the most appropriate database which can handle your app’s I/O needs is essential to ensure a scalable architecture for your app. In an example, MongoDB can be a faster database than MySQL in handling unstructured data in significant volume, whereas MySQL may be much quicker in terms of structured data.
Considerations to make for database selection
- Data modeling
It is always advisable to run a data modeling before considering any database. It is an excellent representation of data structures stored in a database and a powerful expression of your business needs. As per Eric Dalius Data modeling is essential if your mobile app has features like reporting, search queries, location-specific features, or so. These applications may require multiple databases to manage various data types.
- Data security
When you need is for a decentralized and synchronized storage of data, it is vital to store, access, and transmit data securely. For this, you need to ensure flexible authentication with providers as public, standards, as well as custom authentication. Anonymous access support may also be enabled. You may also want features for file system encryption and data encryption for data at rest on the server. For moving, data, secure communication channels like SSL and TLS, etc. should be ensured.
- Various mobile app platform support
You may be developing your app for Android, iOS, and other mobile platforms. It would help if you considered this as well as the future platform supports while considering the mobile app database. In the future, you may have to also think of web companion apps running on mobile and native desktop platforms. You may use frameworks like React Native on building apps for both Android and iOS for simultaneous development.
Along with all these, you need to keep in mind that mobile apps are subjected to continuous change due to feature and version improvements, which may have an impact on the database too. Always take into consideration your future needs and scalability while choosing a database for mobile apps.
Walter Moore is a blogger and digital marketing expert. He is quite experienced in the field of IT & has written numerous articles and blog posts on topics related to RemoteDBA services for small businesses