Difference between File Management Systems and DBMS

23/12/2023 1 By indiafreenotes

File Management System (FMS)

File Management System (FMS) is a software system designed to manage and organize computer files in a hierarchical structure. In an FMS, data is stored in files and directories, and the system provides tools and functionalities for creating, accessing, organizing, and manipulating these files. FMS is a basic form of data organization and storage and is commonly found in early computer systems and some modern applications where simplicity and straightforward file handling are sufficient.

File Organization:

  • Hierarchy: Files are organized in a hierarchical or tree-like structure with directories (folders) and subdirectories.

File Operations:

  • Creation and Deletion: Users can create new files and delete existing ones.
  • Copy and Move: Files can be copied or moved between directories.

Directory Management:

  • Creation and Navigation: Users can create directories and navigate through the directory structure.
  • Listing and Searching: FMS provides tools to list the contents of directories and search for specific files.

Access Control:

  • Permissions: Some FMS may support basic access control through file permissions, specifying who can read, write, or execute a file.

File Naming Conventions:

  • File Naming: Users need to adhere to file naming conventions, and file names are typically case-sensitive.

File Attributes:

  • Metadata: FMS may store basic metadata about files, such as creation date, modification date, and file size.

Limited Data Retrieval:

  • Search and Sorting: FMS provides basic search and sorting functionalities, but complex queries are limited.

User Interface:

  • Command-Line Interface (CLI): Early FMS often had a command-line interface where users interacted with the system by typing commands.

File Types:

FMS treats all files as binary, and users need to know the file type to interpret its contents.

Data Redundancy:

As each file is an independent entity, there is a potential for redundancy if the same information is stored in multiple files.

Backup and Recovery:

Users need to manually back up files, and recovery may involve restoring from backup copies.

Single User Focus:

  • Single User Environment: Early FMS were designed for single-user environments, and concurrent access to files by multiple users was limited.

File Security:

  • Limited Security Features: Security features are basic, with limited options for access control and encryption.


  • Early Operating Systems: Early computer systems, such as MS-DOS, used file management systems for organizing data.

File Management Systems, while simplistic, are still relevant in certain contexts, especially for small-scale data organization or simple file storage needs. However, for more complex data management requirements, Database Management Systems (DBMS) offer advanced features, including structured data storage, efficient querying, and enhanced security measures.


Database Management System (DBMS) is software that provides an interface for managing and interacting with databases. It is designed to efficiently store, retrieve, update, and manage data in a structured and organized manner. DBMS serves as an intermediary between users and the database, ensuring the integrity, security, and efficient management of data.

Here are the key components and functionalities of a Database Management System:

Data Definition Language (DDL):

  • Database Schema: Allows users to define the structure of the database, including tables, relationships, and constraints.
  • Data Types: Specifies the types of data that can be stored in each field.

Data Manipulation Language (DML):

  • Query Language: Provides a standardized language (e.g., SQL – Structured Query Language) for interacting with the database.
  • Insert, Update, Delete Operations: Enables users to add, modify, and delete data in the database.

Data Integrity:

  • Constraints: Enforces rules and constraints on the data to maintain consistency and integrity.
  • Primary and Foreign Keys: Defines relationships between tables to ensure referential integrity.

Concurrency Control:

  • Transaction Management: Ensures that multiple transactions can occur simultaneously without compromising data integrity.
  • Isolation: Provides mechanisms to isolate the effects of one transaction from another.


  • Access Control: Defines and manages user access rights and permissions to protect the database from unauthorized access.
  • Authentication and Authorization: Verifies user identity and determines their level of access.

Data Retrieval:

  • Query Optimization: Optimizes queries for efficient data retrieval.
  • Indexing: Improves search performance by creating indexes on columns.


  • Support for Large Datasets: Enables efficient handling of large volumes of data.
  • Horizontal and Vertical Partitioning: Supports strategies for distributing data across multiple servers.

Backup and Recovery:

  • Backup Procedures: Provides tools for creating database backups.
  • Point-in-Time Recovery: Allows recovery to a specific point in time.

Data Models:

  • Relational, NoSQL, Object-Oriented: Supports different data models to cater to diverse application needs.
  • Normalization: Organizes data to reduce redundancy and improve efficiency.

Data Independence:

  • Logical and Physical Independence: Separates the logical structure of the database from its physical storage.

Concurrency and Consistency:

  • ACID Properties: Ensures transactions are Atomic, Consistent, Isolated, and Durable.

Multi-User Environment:

  • Concurrent Access: Supports multiple users accessing the database concurrently.
  • Locking Mechanisms: Manages concurrent access by implementing locking mechanisms.

Data Recovery:

  • Recovery Manager: Provides tools to recover the database in case of failures or crashes.
  • Redo and Undo Logs: Logs changes to the database to facilitate recovery.

Distributed Database Management:

  • Distribution and Replication: Manages databases distributed across multiple locations or replicated for fault tolerance.

User Interfaces:

  • GUI and Command-Line Interfaces: Provides interfaces for users to interact with the database, including query execution and schema management.

Difference between File Management Systems and DBMS

Aspect File Management System (FMS) Database Management System (DBMS)
Data Storage Data is stored in files and directories. Data is stored in tables with predefined structures.
Data Redundancy May lead to redundancy as the same information may be stored in multiple files. Minimizes redundancy through normalization and relationships.
Data Independence Users are highly dependent on the structure and format of data files. Provides a higher level of data independence from physical storage.
Data Integrity Relies on application programs to enforce integrity, potentially leading to inconsistencies. Enforces data integrity through constraints and rules.
Data Retrieval Retrieval is file-centric, requiring specific file-handling procedures. Uses a standardized query language (e.g., SQL) for data retrieval.
Concurrency Control Limited support for concurrent access, often requiring manual synchronization. Implements robust concurrency control mechanisms.
Security Security is often at the file level, with limited access control options. Provides fine-grained access control and security features.
Data Relationships Handling relationships between data entities can be challenging and manual. Enables the establishment of relationships between tables.
Scalability May face challenges in scalability due to manual handling and limited optimization. Designed for scalability, supporting large datasets and concurrent access.
Data Maintenance Data maintenance tasks are often manual and may involve complex file manipulation. Simplifies data maintenance through standardized operations.