What are Flat Files?

Flat File is also known as Flat Database or Text Database. Flat file is a non-relational database that stores data in plain text format. It is a single text file that contains a table with one record per line and the columns in a record is often separated using some delimiter like comma or tab characters. Data stored in Flat file do not have any folders or path associated with them. Like relational data base, this database cannot contain several tables. Database programs like FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access can easily import flat files and use them in larger relational database.

Flat File is also a type of File System that stores data in single directory. The first Macintosh Machines used this kind of File Systems called Macintosh File System i.e. MFS. Later, it was replaced due to its inefficiency in managing large amount of data with Hierarchical File System i.e. HFS. Even now some systems like Microsoft Windows and Linux use flat file database for storing system configuration.

Advantages of Flat Files:

  • Easy to understand and to implement
  • Suitable for small database
  • All data are stored in one place
  • Can be stored in standard spreadsheet

Disadvantages of Flat Files:

  • Tedious job to track duplicate records in Flat file database
  • Records in the database cannot be updated
  • No data security
  • Cannot handle huge database
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