To this day since its inception in the late 1970s, spreadsheets are still very popular. From reporting to data compliance, for many businesses spreadsheets are still the data analytical tool of choice. Increasingly this is risky, especially around the critical importance of data protection. So replacing spreadsheets is a top priority. Let’s review why online databases should be used to instead of spreadsheets for certain business needs such as data collection, analytics and workflow.

Online database software works using the latest cloud technology. The data is organised in a way so it can be easily retrieved, edited and managed in significantly useful ways by the users. It could be inventory, sales, calls or anything anyone needs to track. In addition, it can be something very simple such as personal information about clients or customers. It’s up to the user to determine what data needs to be aggregated and the format or schema it will take. They offer you ample space to store your data in an optimised way. Optimisation implies quite a few features of databases as listed below:

No Data Redundancy

You can avoid data being redundant. The same copy of data is not required to be present in a hundred places with each user. Instead, you can create only one instance of the database and share it among all the users.

Data Integrity

It’s not going to be the case that you will never make changes to your databases. Thus, since we maintain only a single instance of the database, any changes in one place will reflect on all the users. There is one source of truth.

Login controls

Often we have people in the business who don’t need complete access to the database. For example, a person dealing with sales doesn’t need to know about your raw material costs and only needs to have the data required for sales analysis. Now, that the data is present in a central place, we can control who has access to what. By giving necessary authorisation to the user, we can control the data security aspect in the business as well.

Centralised Access

With the database being located in the cloud, users can access data at any time from multiple locations. The same information can be used and updated by all employees. Collaboration can be carried out regardless of location. Productivity and efficiency will improve dramatically.


The best part about the cloud is that whatever changes are made to the database, are easily trackable. We can easily redo and undo the changes and revoke access of the user misusing the data.

We have seen how online database software have revolutionised businesses. But, we still don’t know how it performs better than spreadsheets. Let us compare spreadsheets and online database software.


1. Data is stored as physical files. Cloud storage of tables.
2. Extra formatting required to store different types of data such as scientific numbers etc. No extra formatting required. Database tools automatically detect the type of data present and make necessary changes.
3. Spreadsheet professionals are easily available in the market due to its traditional use. Database professionals may be a little expensive on the pocket.
4. Bulky local software required to be installed on the systems with constant need of updating them from time-to-time that may incur extra costs. Everything is maintained online, which means that the business doesn’t need to have scheduled updates.
5. It can be worked offline as well, thereby eliminating server issues. They need good servers for good connectivity. However, online database software provides frequent data refresh which leads to minimising data loss.
6. Data needs to be physically copied into files for multiple users. Data is stored centrally and no copies are required except for the backup operations to prevent data loss.
7. Physically alter changes to data Any modifications to the data automatically reflect all the users reducing the overhead of physically modifying each copy just like in spreadsheets.
8. User security is an issue, as anyone with access to a particular file will have access to its data. We can even make the particular columns invisible to the user in a table, thus user security is as good as it gets.


Thus, online database software stored in a centralised platform in the cloud achieves ease of access. In addition, it can perform complex data analysis. Since, the databases don’t have redundant data, the processing of data is much faster.  Heavier spreadsheets take time to open itself depending on your local system’s RAM (Random Access Memory) limit as well as processor speeds. Whereas, online cloud databases are scalable and elastic, making it a much quicker option. This flexibility can handle heavy loads.

By subscribing to online database solutions (Software as a Service), businesses can ensure good data solutions for all their needs, reduce costs, and minimise data losses. We can even have lite versions of the databases for mobiles to enable database mobility. For instance, PretaForm has a lite version which helps you access database on your phones with limited yet necessary features enabled. In addition you can collect data remotely.

Such databases can help you visualise the data effectively, using simple queries. Also it facilitates the generation of complex reports with a little bit of initial training for the employees.


We have seen that spreadsheets are still widely being used as a convention for storing data for businesses and taken as an obvious choice. However, online database software offers a far more practical alternative. It provides data integrity, data security, and consistency. It can help businesses reduce the costs of maintaining and analysing data on a daily basis. Data accessed is centralised.

To prepare for migrating from spreadsheets to online databases,  analyse your business processes – determine what information and analysis would help your business grow. Then use the latest online database solutions like PretaForm to achieve this.

Would you like to find out more? Please contact us.

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