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When I work on a huge database, and after following normalization rules, I found that I have many tables for each part of my huge database. That makes me worry about the final number of tables, it will be in the hundreds.

What is the best choice for me?

  • make many tables with a small number of columns? or
  • make few tables with many columns?
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Please try and be more precise. What is "huge" 100M, 100G, 100T? Thousands or rows, millions, billions? What is "many many columns"? Your question would be better if you had an actual example problem of a (set of) tables, expected volume and growth, and the two options you're looking at in terms of "one wide table" versus "many narrow ones". – Mat Nov 1 '12 at 7:50
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In general, the more tables in a database, the more normalised it is.

If your table has many columns, the chances are that some of them will be empty a lot of the time, or repeating types, or other breaches of normalisation, so as you've discovered, normalisation leads to more tables. This is perfectly normal (no pun intended), is nothing to worry about and will lead to easier and more efficient querying

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I will also point out that wider tables can have slower performance (at least in SQL Server due to how they get physically stored) and that you can run up on the record size limit in some databases if you make the tables too wide. – HLGEM Nov 1 '12 at 20:31
Oh and we have databases with around 1000 tables, it isn't uncommon in Enterprise applications. – HLGEM Nov 1 '12 at 20:33

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