Database server vs database

As a software engineer you’ll often hear about and interact with databases, but then you will inevitably hear of a database server and it’s easy to think that these two concepts are on in the same. That is not the case. In this post I will walk through a brief overview of what differentiates these two terms.

Database Server

A database server is the computer/server under which databases will exist. It is what knows how to create databases and manage their data. You can install multiple database servers on a single physical machine.


Within a database server can exist many databases. These are the objects that contain your database tables, among other objects like database functions, indexes, and views.

The main takeaway here is that a database exists within the context of a database server and a database server exists as an application on physical or virtual hardware.

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