A record is a database entry that may contain one or more values. Groups of records are stored in a table, which defines what types of data each record may contain. Databases may contain multiple tables which may each contain multiple records.

Records are often called rows since each new record creates a new row in the table. Individual fields are sometimes called columns since they are the same for each record within a table. While the words "record" and "row" are often used interchangeably, most DBMSes use the word "row" for database queries and error messages. Therefore, if you see an error message on a website that says "Unable to jump to row 89," for example, it means the record was not found in the database.

Records are an efficient way to store and access data. Since each record may contain multiple data types, a single record may include many different types of information. For example, a personnel record may contain an ID number, name, birthdate, and photo, which are all different data types. Individual fields within the personnel record can be easily accessed or compared with other records using a database query. Additionally, records can be easily created, modified, and deleted without affecting other data in the database.

NOTE: The word "record" is also a verb (pronounced "re-cord"), which means to capture and save audio and/or video data.

Updated August 25, 2012 by Per C.

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