I am now taking database course in school but have worked on projects using MySQL before.

I am a bit confuse with database system and database management system. For database management system, MySQL, MS Access are some of the examples.

Can someone give me a clear explanation between the two with some examples? Most are saying they are the same.

3 Answers 3


Most are saying they are the same.

They are the same, pretty much. Most people use the two interchangeably.

You could try make a case for "database system" to cover simpler arrangements where there is just a database and not management tools (for instance in memory database libraries and/or like sqlite is often used), but there are so many grey areas here defining the difference is going to be difficult to do in a consistent manner.

  • In case you're looking for a reference on your claim, Wikipedia mentions the two terms interchangeably. (I know, Wikipedia - rolls eyes)
    – Hannah Vernon
    Sep 20, 2016 at 15:02

I understand database system as something, that is able to store data, return it upon requests (and do lot more in fact, i.e. manage how data is stored, store metadata).

Management system is for me database system with additional tools to manage databases, i.e. IDE (such as SQL Server Management Studio for SQL Server).

SQL Server is good example here:

you can separately download and install:

  • engine, that will store data ect., i.e. database system - lets you to store that, it has ways to store and retrieve it

  • IDE, i.e. SQL Server Management Studio - lets you manipulate data and how database system works (you can add indexes to tables, define services/jobs, etc.)


Database Systems are those systems in which we can store data such as MS-ACCESS files whereas Database Management Systems are concerned with making strategies of adding, deleting or modifying data.

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