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CMS without databases: the simple solution for small web projects

Finding the right content management system (CMS) for a web project is sometimes easier said than done due to the vast number of options. The more powerful a content management system is, the more complex it is to use, which results in more requirements for the administrator and hardware to adhere to. Whereas large CMSs, such as Drupal, Joomla or Typo3, only run in combination with a database exclusive to the required webspace, there are also CMSs without databases that save data in other ways.

How does a CMS work without a database?

Content management systems deal with software with which you can create, edit and manage content for websites and other forms of media. Thanks to a graphical interface, users who have access to the system can generally operate a CMS without any prior HTML and programming knowledge. Plugins can help complement the majority of CMS programmes with features such as contact forms, polls and calendars.

With most CMSs the content of articles or pages is separated from the layout and stored in databases, such as MySQL or MariaDB. A small CMS system forgoes a database

The pros and cons of a simple CMS system

Whether using a CMS without a database is worthwhile for your own project depends on a range of different factors. The advantages, as well as the typical problems of non-database CMSs, are summarised here:

+ CMSs without databases are usually quite plain and are limited to the most essential features and therefore users don’t need much of a familiarisation period.

+ Web project backups are easily taken care of since no complex database backup is required, so data just needs to be downloaded from the webspace.

+ The direct transfer of information without having to detour over a database means there is a shorter loading time and faster access to the web project.

+ A small CMS system generally doesn’t require much webspace and doesn’t demand any special requirements from the hardware.

As well as numerous advantages there are also some disadvantages of CMSs without databases:

– The possibilities of non-database CMS systems are limited, which is why the systems are best suited to smaller projects with minimal static sites. Dynamic websites cannot be created without databases.

– Since simple CMS systems usually only offer small communities, the user is often left alone with questions and problems and has to sort through documents to work it out themselves.

– The often unavailable codes and minimal distribution of CMS software can mean that the simple CMS becomes boring for the user since there is less chance of development.

– Not working in a structured and neat manner on a simple content management system could make it difficult to find specific content again.

What kind of projects are simple CMS systems suitable for?

With the list of pros and cons of non-database content management systems you could assume that this software solution isn’t suitable for managing content of every project. The advantages of non-database systems only really materialise in small web projects. Deciding to pass on using a database has a positive impact on the performance, but a negative one on the structure of bigger web projects. Also the use of dynamic web pages with a CMS without database isn’t possible. Users that are planning a web project with constant updating and heavy interaction with website visitors, shouldn’t opt for a simple CMS system without a database. The same applies for owners of bigger websites whose complex structures prove too much for a non-database content management system.

On the other hand, there are projects that benefit from using a CMS without a database: small websites, which are built using simple structures and don’t have a lot of pages, can be quickly created with this CMS and will impress visitors with fast access to the information they are looking for. These CMS systems are best suited to small businesses or freelancers who want to introduce their range of services. Running a blog will also work on a small CMS system.

A considerable advantage of such a lean system is that no hardware is needed to operate the database server, so the user saves money and also doesn’t need any laborious backups. Less experienced users can benefit from a clear structure and easy start.

A CMS without database is suitable for:

  • Small and medium-sized homepages
  • Operating blogs
  • Introducing a range of services (businesses, freelancers)

Simple CMS systems are not suitable for:

  • Online shops
  • News sites
  • Online services
  • Websites with lots of multimedia content

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