What is the Difference Between a Block chain and a Database?


The difference between a Block chain and a traditional database begins with architecture, creation, access, and permissions. They differ in each and every aspect except that they both are huge repositories of data which is stored and accessed in an organised form, digitally.


  • This runs on a client-server network, where there is a central repository of data that will be accessed by those nodes who have permission to access the data. The data of the database is maintained by administrators, and mostly nodes will have access to retrieve the data as per their requirement.

  • Database, which is an electronic collection of data or information, is specially organised for rapid search and retrieval by the clients. It works on server – client architecture, which facilitates storage, retrieval, addition and deletion of data, modifications in conjunction with multiple data processing Operations.

  • The most important feature is, the clients should be registered and should be given access to access the data or make any kind of changes to the database. The control is with central authority, Administrators who allow the nodes to access the data by granting permissions. The master copy of the database can be changed only by the administrators.

There are some pros and cons for this kind of Data repositories −


  • Databases have the information that is a snap of the current time. Any time there will be only one version of database that is in use. Database has regular backup system which will safeguard it.

  • Data retrieval from the databases is faster due to index and organisation of data.


  • The risk with centralized database is that, anybody with sufficient access and permissions can corrupt the data within. Users have to trust the administrators and are entirely dependent on them. Any administrator with malicious intentions can destroy the whole database completely.

  • If multiple users are accessing the same data from different nodes all over the world, the retrieval may slow down due to the traffic.

Now that we have discussed what is a database, how does it work, its pros and cons, let us look at the Block chain and how does it work.

Block Chain

  • The major difference between a block chain and database is that the block chain is a decentralized database in which any one can add transactions in the form of a block. The copy of Block chain is accessible to all the nodes of the Bitcoin.

  • There is no single person administering the block chain database. The copy of the entire block chain is with all the users of the network and anybody can add a block and that is open for verification by any other user. More than 50% consensus is required to make the block a valid one.

  • The control of the database does not lie with a single administrator. Each participant maintains a copy of the block chain, and the longest block chain (with the new blocks added) is the valid Block chain at any given time. The same copy will be downloaded by all the users of the network.

Having discussed how does a block chain work, let us now look at the advantages of using a Block Chain instead of a traditional database system.

  • It is almost impossible to tamper the information of a Block chain. Once a Block is network.

  • Blocks are connected in a continuous chain using the information of previous block and information stored in hash value. If any information on the block is altered, the hash value changes and makes all the following blocks invalid.

  • That is the reason, even when the block chain is decentralised and every user has access to add new transactions in the form of block, there will be no fraud or manipulation. All the nodes of the network ensure that they accept the block and include in their copy of block chain so as to provide in-built security for the network. Nodes that do not trust each other will share information without any Central Administrator. This eliminates the risk of centralised control.

Now, let us look at some of the special features of Block Chain that keeps it apart from the regular Databases such as

  • Block chain always holds the record of the latest version and also maintains archives of the information. That is the reason block chain database is called Immutable. We can even check the first ever block of the block chain. The database is never overwritten; it is only addition of new transactions.

  • Confirmation of a transaction can take a while, as it has to be verified to rule out spending the same bitcoin twice. Creation of a block is deliberately slowed by the network, by increasing the difficulty level based on the number of miners active.

  • Block chain of cryptocurrency is a write uncontrolled and read uncontrolled database. That means anyone can read or write a block anytime, without any restrictions.

Updated on 30-Jul-2019 22:30:26