A flat file database is a type of database stored in a file or set of files on a computer system. It is not related to a relational database as it contains data but does not feature the sophisticated data management features that a relational database offers.
Flat file databases are organized into flat file structures, typically containing records in a single table structure. They are generally used when the information stored is not required to be accessed via relational queries, and when the file requires structure instead of more complex data manipulation tasks.
Data is typically stored in flat files as plain text, delimited by a certain character, such as a comma (csv) or a tab (tsv). Each row in the flat file would represent a record with its columns containing the corresponding values for the attributes of the record.
The advantages of the flat file system include its simplicity and easy access to information. Flat files are the preferred choice for storing data because they have no physical design or implementation requirements; they do not require the same complex maintenance and upgrade support required by a relational database system.
On the other hand, flat files lack the ability to link related information in different tables, which results in potentially handling data in inefficient ways. They also do not provide built-in support for safety features, such as user authentication or data integrity checks.
In summary, flat file databases are simple files that contain records in a single table structure and are used when the information stored does not require sophisticated data management. Although they are relatively easy to use and access, they lack the ability to link related information in different tables, and do not provide security features.