Is it bad practice to use a 1-1 relationship between two logically distinct tables: the user details and the user configuration settings? Each configuration record would have a single unique user ID, but they seemed separate enough to warrant two tables rather than one big one. I ask because the WikiBook for my school course said that I should only use 1-Many relationships.

In the User table I will be storing details such as their username, id and authorisation token for an external system. In the Config table I will be storing settings such as whether to show a welcome message, which are changeable through the settings page.

  • 1
    Should give more information on the attributes that you need/want to store in 2 tables. Also can a user have multiple configuration settings?
    – Marco
    Dec 12, 2015 at 16:08
  • You did say they both have user ID as a key.
    – paparazzo
    Dec 12, 2015 at 16:11
  • @Marco, updated to explain the purpose of each table. Each user will have exactly one configuration record. Dec 12, 2015 at 16:20

1 Answer 1


The attributes should be split in 2 tables because the configuration details are not depending on the user but on the configuration of an external system. If a user can have only 1 configuration then you must use an 1-1 relation. If a user can have multiple configurations then you must use the 1-M relation.

This is the theory. If you want (in case of a 1-1 relation) put all in 1 table than this is also 'allowed'. Remember well that if one day the relation becomes 1-M that you are in problems. This is also why it is preferred to split the information into 2 tables.

  • To be equivocal: According to theory there's nothing wrong with either a single table or two 1:1 tables (as in "this is also 'allowed'"), and having a separate table "because the configuration details are not depending on the user" is an erogonomic/changeablility reason (as in "This is also why it is preferred to split"). Sadly, typical DBMSs don't let one define the necessary FKs both ways for the 1:1.) (For reasons of not understanding theory.)
    – philipxy
    Dec 13, 2015 at 0:30

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