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What Is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?

We can all agree that blockchain technology has become part of our everyday lives. Despite being at its infancy stage, the technology has already given rise to some significant developments.

Two terms that are synonymous with blockchain technology are; blockchain and database. There is so much confusion surrounding these two terms, and some people tend to think that it the same thing. But, what is the difference between a blockchain and a database?

While a blockchain can be viewed as a traditional database, these two entities are different at the core. Whereas a database runs on client-server network architecture, a blockchain is purely based on peer-to-peer network architecture. Read on to find out some of the fundamental differences between a blockchain and a database.

What Is the Difference Between a Blockchain and a Database?

The following points illustrate some of the critical differences between a blockchain and a traditional database system.

Decentralized vs. Centralized Control

A blockchain is a highly decentralized system. This means that if two parties don’t trust each other and they wish to share some sensitive information without involving a third party, it is possible with a blockchain.

In blockchain technology, all transactions are usually processed by all nodes on the network who act as middlemen ensuring that every user is creating the same shared system of record at the same time. The good thing about blockchain technology is that it eliminates the need for a centralized system of control.

However, a database is a highly centralized system which means that you trust the administrator to manage it well. It is the administrator who gives you the rights to read and write the data stored on the database. And since they are highly centralized, maintenance of databases is quite easy, and the output is high.


While blockchain offer ideal platforms for transactions, they are considered slow compared to what other digital transaction platforms such as Visa and PayPal provide. Although developers continue to make constant improvements to blockchain to enhance its performance, the overall nature of blockchain technology requires that some speed must be sacrificed.

With every node processing a transaction independently and comparing results with the other nodes before something happens, it means that the overall performance of blockchain is slowed down.

Databases, on the other hand, have been around for decades and have seen their speed and performance increase over time. The Moore’s Law has been applied to enhance both the efficiency and performance of traditional database systems.


One of the top reasons why bitcoin has become so popular is that it is write-uncontrolled and read-uncontrolled. This means that any person can write a new block into the chain and anyone can also read a block in the chain.

However, a centralized database can be write-controlled and read-controlled by an administrator. The network protocol can be set up in such a way that it only allows specific individuals to write into the database or read the database. But, if the primary goal is confidentiality and not trust, blockchain pose no any significant advantage over conventional databases.


Depending on your specific needs, one of these two systems will always be more suitable at the moment.  The discussion above answers the question; what is the difference between a blockchain and a database in detail to help you make an informed decision. Just keep in mind that both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.

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