Can I use Google Sheets as a relational database?

Can I use Google Sheets as a relational database?

Can you use Google Sheets as a relational database? 

Technically, yes, Google Sheets can be used as a simple relational database.

However, a proper relational database system like Airtable, MySQL, or PostgreSQL is encouraged for large-scale, complex data management tasks.

How to use Google Sheets as a relational database?

How to use Google Sheets as a relational database?

Although Google Sheets is a spreadsheet tool, it is possible to use it as a simple relational database.

This is done by leveraging Google Sheets functions and formulas to link data between different sheets.

Basically, think of each sheet as a table in a relational database, then structure your data across those multiple sheets.

I recommend using Google Sheets as a relational database only for small projects, personal use, or where a full-fledged database system isn’t needed.

Here's how you can use Google Sheets as a relational database:

  • Create columns within your Google sheet (this is where you’ll store and organize data).
  • You can add data within sheet rows if your database is more complex.
  • Ensure every data field has a particular column and row (this will help with navigation).
  • Add your data to the relevant cells, then sort and filter it to arrange it in a way that suits you.
  • Use VLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH, or QUERY functions to retrieve and display related data from different sheets.

When editing key columns and relationships, be careful not to break the links between data.

It's worth noting that Google Sheets is designed primarily as a spreadsheet tool.

Therefore, Google Sheets doesn’t provide the same level of data integrity, concurrency, and performance as specialized database software.

Read more about using Google Sheets as a relational database here.

What is a relational database?

What is a relational database?

A relational database essentially organizes and links data types together in a structured manner so you can easily edit, delete, and find related data across multiple tables.

Designed to overcome the limitations of simple spreadsheets, relational databases utilize tables to efficiently store a large amount of relational data in a scalable and robust way.

Unlike spreadsheets (initially used for financial computation), relational databases were crafted to provide a reliable solution for large-scale data handling.

This structure allows for significant operational flexibility in information management. 

Historically, relational databases were primarily used by developers who managed and extracted information through SQL (Structured Query Language).

However, you no longer need to know SQL (or any other programming languages) to use databases effectively.

Relational databases are based on the relational model, an intuitive, straightforward way of representing data in tables.

Each table (similar to a spreadsheet) in a relational database contains one or more data categories in columns.

And each row contains a unique instance of data, or key, for the categories defined by the columns.

Is a spreadsheet a relational database?

The answer is…..sort of?  Both have columns, rows, and tables. But there are some key differences.

To keep things simple:

  • Spreadsheet data is stored inside cells and can be edited, formatted, and manipulated only inside that particular cell.
  • Database cells often contain data from external sources and are relational, meaning that if you add, customize, or delete data within one place, the change will also affect all related data points.

It is possible to do this with Google Sheets using functions, Apps Scripts, and data validation rules.

However, a spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets can’t handle complex or large databases like a relational database can.

Google Sheets CRM template as a relational database (Sheetify)

Although Sheetify CRM isn’t technically a relational database, this Google Sheets CRM uses columns, rows, and tables as the underlying framework for managing data.

Sheetify CRM comes with a built-in Apps Script and data validation rules.

Therefore, the platform offers some fundamental relational database functionality that allows you to link data across multiple sheets.

Read more about Sheetify CRM here.

What is Sheetify CRM? (Google CRM template)

What is Sheetify CRM? Google CRM template

If you’re looking for a tool to help you manage your contacts, sales, deals, inventory, and more, I recommend using Sheetify CRM, my Google Sheets CRM template.

Built entirely with Google Sheets, this tool is specifically designed for small and micro-businesses that are already familiar with Google Sheets.

Essentially, Sheetify CRM is an all-in-one template platform that efficiently manages every piece of customer data within one Google Sheet.

Sheetify CRM is your go-to system for seamlessly organizing, automating, and managing:

  • Contacts and leads.
  • Emails.
  • Inventory.
  • Tasks and deals.
  • Invoices
  • Customer service issues.
  • Transactions and purchases.

Sheetify CRM also has a built-in performance dashboard and analytics tool to give you an overview of your business and team's performance.

We've crafted pre-designed columns, rows, and formulas for you to eliminate the manual work involved in setting up and using Google Sheets as a CRM.

Also, there are no monthly fees or hidden costs. Sheetify CRM is available for just $69, which includes lifetime access to all future updates and features.

Sheetify is completely customizable, and our experts can add any specific features, changes, or automations for you.

I hope you’ve found this article helpful!

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