Hierarchical Database vs Relational Database – Difference and Comparison

What is Hierarchical Database?

This database is heavily employed in the industry for the conventional data storage methods still in use. You may use this database to store your essential data to keep it secure.

A hierarchical database is a paradigm in which your data is organized parent-child and has just one parent instead of a flat database. Initially developed by IBM in 1968, this standard system database produces a tree-like structure with nodes representing the parent and child nodes.

You can store your data and retrieve your data fast is one of the many advantages of using this database. Of course, you can also retrieve your data using this classic database, which is a bonus. If you need to make changes to your database, you may completely restructure the database. Simple to use may use the hierarchical database to store all of your company’s information.

However, you can only preserve the essential data in this conventional data, and if you retain your important data, then retrieving the data from this is a complicated process. Moreover, even though IBM also employs this form of data storage, it does not favour the latest quality and applications available.

What is Relational Database?

It is the contemporary method of keeping information about your company in a relational database. You can quickly recover your data from a relational database. For the firms founded by the E.F. Codd in 1970, this is the second-gen database for such companies.

It stored the data and records in a table format, and the table has rows and columns, with the columns displaying characteristics and the rows showing entities of the data. This kind of database is more used in commercial organizations than a hierarchical database, primarily because it is more user- and programming-friendly than a hierarchical database.

So even if certain modifications are made to the programming application, it will not impact this database. A non-traditional database can store data that is itself a complicated set of data.

You may rapidly recover your data with the aid of the SQL query language. The data file may be imported, exported, and converted in this database in an emergency.

Difference Between Hierarchical Database and Relational Database

  1. Relational databases are independent of the application, while hierarchical databases are dependent on the application.
  2. The data and records are stored in parent-child nodes in a hierarchical database, while the documents are stored in tables in a relational database.
  3. One-one and one-many relationships are present in a hierarchical database; however, one-one, one-many and many-many relationships may be found in a relational database, as shown in the figure below.
  4. In contrast to relational databases, which are the products of the second generation, the conventional, first-generation hierarchical database is a first-generation database.
  5. It is only possible to store primary data in a hierarchical database. Despite this, a relational database can hold complicated and demanding records since it is a current and sophisticated means of keeping the data of a company’s operations.

Comparison Between Hierarchical Database and Relational Database

ParametersHierarchical DatabaseRelational Database
Originated byA hierarchical database helps store data, and IBM invented it in 1968 to make it more accessible.This database is also advantageous to the company since it keeps information. EF Codd is credited with inventing the phrase in 1970.
GenerationThis database represents the initial generation of the database schema that is now used in the company.This database is also very beneficial for storing data, and it is a second-generation database.
StructureChild and parent nodes constitute the structure of a hierarchical database.Tables, rows, and columns are all accessible for use.
RelationshipsOne-to-one and one-to-many connections are both available in this database.You may establish one-on-one, one-many, and many-on-many connections in this way.
Data retrievalThe tree may be transported from one node to another, bypassing the root node.We may search for information in this database using the SQL query language.


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/281714/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0304397586900101