Blockchains versus Traditional Databases. An overview

Blockchains versus Traditional Databases. An overview

Blockchain as we all know is a system containing record of transactions made in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum etc are maintained across several computers that are linked in a peer-to-peer network.


It is a decentralized, distributed and immutable public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers .The data recorded in the past or present cannot be altered without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.

For a better understanding of the difference between a blockchain and a traditional database, it is worth considering how each of these is designed and maintained.

Distributed nodes on a blockchain.


Traditional Data base


Traditional database  involves the use of client-server network architecture. What this means is that a user, which is also referred to as a client can modify data, which is stored on a centralized server. Control of the database remains with a designated or assigned authority, whose job is to authenticate a client’s credentials before giving them access to the database.

Now since this authority is responsible for the management/administration of the database, in this case the data can be altered, if the security of the authority is compromised, the data can be altered, or even deleted entirely without any traces.

Blockchain Database

Blockchain database is made up of several decentralized nodes. All nodes verifies new additions to the blockchain, and are as well capable of entering new data into the database, in this way the all participate in the blockchain administration.

They operate in consensus mechanism, the majority number of the nodes had to come together. The must reach a consensus before any addition is to be made to the blochchain. This “consensus effect” guarantees the security of the network which will not allow it to be tampered or altered.
The consensus is reached by mining- solving complex hashing puzzles, while proof of stake is used by Ethereum as its own consensus mechanism.

Integrity and Transparency

One of the main basic principles of blockchain technology, which distinguishes it from traditional database technology, is public verifiability, the ability to see past and present records by any user which is made possible by integrity and transparency.

  • Integrity: it gives every user the confidence and the assurance that the data they are retrieving is not corrupted and not altered as well from the time it was recorded.
  • Transparency: every user can verify how the blockchain has been recorded over time

A map of Dashcoin masternodes distributed across the world.


CRUD vs Read & Write Operations

In a traditional database, a client can perform four functions on data which is to Create, Read, Update, and Delete, which is called the CRUD commands.

The blockchain is designed to be an “attach or include at the end only” kind of structure. In this model, a user can only add more data, in the form of additional blocks. He can delete any data. All previous data is permanently stored and cannot be altered. Therefore , Blockchains are associated only with these operations:

Read Operations: This process queries and retrieve data from the blockchain
Write Operations: With this more data are added into the blockchain

Validating and Writing

A transaction is referred to an operation which changes the state of data that lives on the blockchain .
Two functions are allowed in blockchain , first is the validation of a transaction and the second is writing a new transaction.

The past entries on the blockchain must always remain the same and immutable while a new entry can change the state of the data like the information in the past entries.

Lets take this for an instance, if a blockchain has recorded that my Bitcoin wallet has 2 million BTC, that figure is permanently stored in the blockchain. But then as soon as i spend 100,000 BTC, that transaction will be recorded as 1,800,000 onto the blockchain as that is my balance.

Since information or data can only be added not altered in the blockchain , therefore my previous transaction balance of 2 million BTC also remains on the blockchain permanently, for users who wishes to look at it. This is what makes the blockchain an immutable and distributed ledger as it is known.

Centralized vs. peer to peer.

Actually the difference is Decentralized Control
Decentralized control eliminates the risks of centralized control. Its very risky with centralised structure because anyone with enough access to a centralized database can destroy or alter the data within it. Users are more confident on the security infrastructure of the database administrator and its more reliable.

Blockchain technology builds more security into its network structure by decentralized data storage pattern to overcome this issue of security.

In the long run they both processes serve purposes in their capacity . Though blockchain technology is fashioned to record certain kinds of information, traditional databases are better suited for other kinds of information too.
Its then left for organisations to know their priorities, which model to choose ,how effective to manage their data, what the need from database and with complex nature of the society, protect each data against any vulnerable circumstances .




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Credit: Wikipedia.


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