Difference between Client/Server and Distributed DBMS

Database system

Database Management System is used to manage the user information or files and to perform operations like create, edit, share, delete, backup, retrieve, etc. The data stored in the database are organized as tables, rows, columns, and key values which are useful for retrieving relevant information.

This database system can be classified based on the number of users and the location of the database on computer devices. Single and multi-users can function on the database depending on the configuration made. MySQL, Oracle DB, mongo DB, cloud DB, and SQL server are a few databases used to store and manage a large amount of user information.

Four categories are given below, on where the database system is located.

  • Parallel DBMS

  • Centralized DBMS

  • Client/Server DBMS

  • Distributed DBMS

Client Server DBMS

A Client-server Database system has two main components and they are client and server machines. User computer or laptop devices or workstation systems act as clients and servers can be mainframe computers, large workstations, or local server systems. The server and client systems are connected through a network connection and the server acts as the backend with all needed resources while the client device is the front end to interact with DB applications or tools.

The client program sends the request to the server to access some database files or any services required then the server program processes the request obtained and returns the result to the client system. This has a GUI interface to interact between the client and server. The Client-server model has many effective approaches to processing an application between compatible machines.

For instance, the SQL server can be installed on any support PC or Laptop device and the client program runs on a separate machine. When a client needs any data from the server database, then it sends a request through the Local Area Network (LAN), then the server returns the needed data or records to the client machine. Multiple users can request the same data or record to the SQL server, then the SQL server sends the record to multiple clients and ensures that only one user can modify the data at a time.

The client performs as a user interface system that provides application tools to create, display, and manipulate data that are stored on the server. The server end provides storage, authorization, and data integrity by using lock methods, access control mechanisms, data recovery, and query processing functions.

Distributed DBMS

Distributed DBMS system contains multiple machines and the database is itself stored on any of the machines these communicate with one another through high-speed networks or telephone lines. It has a single logical database which is divided into fragments and these fragments are stored in different machines with any DBMS supported. This data is spread in a different database that can have variations in operating systems and can operate in any geographic location but all these devices can be connected by any of the communication networks.

Factors that made distributed DBMS more effective are sharing of data from any connected machines not only on one server machine, but data requested mostly will also be available to all users, which improves performance and reliability to the user and the network.

The table below defines the major differences between Client-server DBMS and Distributed DBMS −

Basis of difference

Client/Server DBMS

Distributed DBMS


Resources are stored on the server Database system and can be used by the client on request.

The database is shared among multiple machines. Each can act as the server and can handle requests from other systems.


Less expensive when compared to Distributed DBMS.

Expensive than a Client-server database.

Availability of resources

Resources needed can be accessed by request to the server. But when multiple clients request the same data, the speed is reduced.

Since resources are distributed among different systems, they can be accessed at a faster rate than client-server DBMS.

Storage of data

Data stored on a single server can hold connections with many clients.

Data is distributed to multiple machines that can act as clients or servers based on requirements.

Failure of connected systems

When the server end crashes due to any error or failure then it may affect the clients connected and decreases performance and may cause reliability issues.

Any crash in a single device that is connected in a distributed environment, does not entirely affect the network or other connected systems.

Maintenance cost

Low as only a single server must be maintained.

High because each machine can operate on any platform and configure with any database system.


Proper security control mechanisms must be installed in the server database to avoid security threats.

As database systems operate concurrently on various platforms, bugs in one device can be transmitted to connected devices and lead to a security threat.


Provides less performance on more client requests or during fault occurrence in the server.

Better performance and provides greater efficiency as it works on a distributed architecture.

Processing data

Data stored on the server can be authenticated, evaluated, and processed by itself.

Coordination is needed from various sites that share the requested data to be processed. Additional computational methods are required to achieve coordination which may not be successful at times.


Client-server DBMS has a central repository of the server database that stores all the database files needed by the multiple client systems to perform any query operations, it provides a better GUI interface with better response time but it lacks performance monitoring and multiple networking environments. Distributed database shares data with several applications within local autonomy and offers better scalability and performance but lacks in areas of security threats and processing overload.

Updated on: 26-Apr-2023


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