15 Best Free Database Software for Data Management in 2023

Whether you’re a marketer or software developer, you’ve probably heard of “database”.

A database is a component of any computer system that stores and organizes data in a convenient form. The concept of database software isn’t hard to grasp as we all use databases consistently.

Imagine an Excel spreadsheet: a collection of data organized into columns and rows. A database operates similarly but usually on a larger scale across many interconnected computers and with more complex forms of data.

But getting your hands on the best database software can be challenging. Numerous options are available, and deciding which is right for you isn’t easy.

Best free database software

When choosing database software, there is no “this tool is better than that”. What you pick depends on your business requirements.

You need to consider several factors, especially when deciding on database software to develop applications. This includes asking the right questions about a software’s capabilities, ensuring whether to invest in learning a new database and figuring out what you want to achieve with your applications.

If you don’t want to pay, plenty of free database solutions are divided into two main groups: relational and non-relational. But, if you haven’t decided on the database software (paid or free) you want to use, here are a few things to consider:

  • Complexity: Certain database software can be rather complex and require some technical knowledge. On the other hand, some project management software simplifies managing project-related data.
  • Security: Nobody wants their data to fall into the wrong hands. Choosing software that uses cutting-edge data security protocols is essential.
  • Integrations: Software integrations allow users to handle data across many applications, such as CRM software or messaging apps.
  • Pricing: As we explore some of the top free database software, some applications will have premium plans that provide more features, storage capacity, and more. So choose a database solution that offers the best value for money.

Best free relational database software

A relational database is an organized collection of data elements linked together by predefined associations. These elements are arranged in a series of tables with rows and columns.

Relational database software helps businesses draw meaningful information via linked tables. Users can easily comprehend the patterns and connections or how the tables are related.

What are the best free relational databases?

  1. IBM Db2
  2. Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)
  3. MariaDB

The list below contains real-user reviews of the best free relational database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, an application needs to be free and:

  • Offer data storage
  • Structure data in a relational model by defining a table with rows and columns
  • Let users collect, update, send, or delete data

*This list is based on G2 data collected in April 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.

1. IBM Db2

IBM Db2 is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that efficiently stores, analyzes, and retrieves data. Companies of all sizes use Db2 for transactional and analytical processes as it offers continuous data availability to keep these processes running smoothly.

Db2 also supports numerous NoSQL features, such as XML, graph store, and JSON.

Features of IBM Db2:

  • The current version of DB2 syncs with the way data scientists work. It includes major data science languages such as Python, PHP, Java, and Jupyter.
  • High availability disaster recovery (HARD) provides high availability for whole or partial site failures and can handle up to three distant standby servers.
  • It runs on all major operating systems (OS), including Windows, Linux, Unix, and Mac.
What users like best:

“IBM Db2 is a stable platform and Integrated Relational Database Management System that leverages high-performance, virtualization, and energy efficiency features. Also, it is supported by different media.”

IBM Db2 Review, Sachin D.

What users dislike:

It would be great if we could have support to have a native UI tool to view data and execute queries. The query performance might be slow sometimes for long-running processes.

IBM Db2 Review, Vignesh V.

2. Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) enables users to build, manage, and expand databases in the cloud. It offers scalable capacity at a low cost while automating time-consuming administrative tasks, including hardware provisioning, setup, patches, and backups. It frees businesses to focus on services and provides them with the needed performance and security.

Although RDS offers various capabilities that simplify databases, its most lauded characteristics appear during deployment. These top operational features include the Amazon RDS Management Console, the AWS RDS Command-Line Interface, and straightforward API calls for quick and easy setup. RDS handles most of the setup before a user begins their launch, even if they have minimal experience with Amazon tools.

Features of Amazon RDS:

  • Amazon RDS database engines supported include Amazon Aurora, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, Oracle Database, and SQL Server.
  • Robust disaster recovery capabilities include snapshot restoration and data protection during migrations, updates, and other system changes (both planned and unplanned).
  • Provides patching and security audits to improve overall RDBMS security.
  • Users can restrict and monitor who can access databases on the network using the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and other security features like multi-factor authentication (MFA).
What users like best:

This service provides accessibility through simple API calls. So, It is easy to use, and database storage scaling is also appreciable. Suitable for a large production environment because the read operation is so quick.

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Review, Sooraj S.

What users dislike:

RDS should have a feature within in AWS console to import and export database tables which will be helpful to work with RDS and consumes less amount of time.Review collected by and hosted on G2.com.

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) Review, Muhammad Q. 

3. MariaDB

MariaDB relieves businesses of proprietary databases’ costs, limitations, and intricacy, allowing them to focus on what matters most: building creative, customer-facing apps. To accommodate workloads that traditionally needed a range of specialist databases, MariaDB employs pluggable, purpose-built storage engines.

With the elimination of complexity and limits, businesses can rely on a single comprehensive database to meet all of their requirements, whether on commodity hardware or in their preferred cloud. MariaDB provides unrivaled operational agility without losing critical corporate capabilities such as genuine ACID compliance and complete SQL.

Features of MariaDB:

  • All major Linux distributions include MariaDB Server, the default database in openSUSE, Manjaro, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)/CentOS/Fedora, Arch Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise, and Debian.
  • It features a vast ecosystem of plugins, storage engines, and other components that make it incredibly adaptable for a wide range of use cases.
  • It also supports PHP and has Galera cluster technology.
What users like best:

“It’s a reliable database system and an open-source database which doesn’t worry the users a lot at the time of use. I used this database over oracle because of its performance and availability. We can have an impression on the customers by using the MariaDB database.”

MariaDB Review, Tabassum K.

What users dislike:

It’s not convenient for a big stream of data. Further, it performs relatively well in terms of clustering, and it is constantly updated with new features and functions.

MariaDB Review, Satyam G.

Best free document database software

A document database (often known as a document-oriented database or a document store) is a database that stores data in the form of documents. It’s a non-relational (also known as NoSQL) database well-suited for catalogs, user profiles, and content management systems, where each document is unique and changes over time.

Document database software makes it much easier for programmers to save and query data in a database because they employ the same document-model format as their codebase. Flexible indexing, robust ad hoc searches, and analytics over collections of documents are all possible with document databases.

What are the best free document databases?

  1. Couchbase
  2. ArangoDB
  3. Percona Server for MongoDB

The list below contains real user reviews from the best free document database solutions on the market. In addition to being a free application, to be included in this list, you must also:

  • Offer data storage
  • Structure data in a document model
  • Let users retrieve data

*This list is based on G2 data collected in April 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.

1. Couchbase

Couchbase is a feature-rich database management system for small and midsize organizations and big corporations in various industries, including banking, hotels, energy, information technology (IT), retail, telecommunications, and manufacturing. These businesses can use the platform to retrieve, organize, store, alter, and aggregate pertinent business data.

Couchbase is a multi-model NoSQL database designed exclusively for mission-critical applications, allowing for richer and more tailored employee and customer experiences. It’s a document-oriented distributed database that combines two popular NoSQL technologies: Membase and CouchDB.

Features of Couchbase:

  • Multi-dimensional scaling (MDS) is a revolutionary distributed architecture that offers compute, storage, and processing workload splitting to meet the ever-changing demands of end-users.
  • The geo-distributed engagement database provides developers with manageability, agility, and greater performance and efficiency.
What users like best:

Easy to get started. We can query over the DB using N1QL that is very similar to SQL so doesn’t need extra knowledge to get started. UI is very clear and easy to understand. Indexing is easy to implement and see all the available indices and while running the queries also we can see which index got picked up. Loved this option.

Couchbase Review, Amit P.

What users dislike:

Adding authorized users was a bit challenging, however my team figured it out after some poking around.

Couchbase Review, Nico P.

2. ArangoDB

ArangoDB is a native multi-model, open-source database written in C++. It supports graph, document, and key-value data models, so users can easily mix all data models in a single query.

As an application grows in complexity, it commonly needs more than one NoSQL database. Employing a multi-model database can ease your design by merging many NoSQL forms into a single infrastructure.

Features of ArangoDB:

  • Users can scale their applications vertically and horizontally to meet rising performance and storage demands.
  • Use a single declarative query language (ArangoDB Query Language (AQL)) to access any data (independent of its model).
  • Reduces the number of components that require maintenance, making your technology stack far less complicated.
What users like best:

“The mixture of the document, search, and graph models has made our decisions easier. We can limit our stack to use Arango and not have an explosion of vendor systems for each purpose.”

ArangoDB Review, Kevin B.

What users dislike:

“Creating Property graphs is easy. However, there is no direct way to create an RDF/OWL graph. RDF triples are useful in machine learning.”

ArangoDB Review, Amardeep Singh S.

3. Percona Server for MongoDB

Percona Server for MongoDB is an alternative to the open-source and free MongoDB Community Edition. It combines the advantages and functions of MongoDB Community Edition with Percona’s enterprise-class functionality.

The platform is based on MongoDB Community Edition. It offers a configurable data structure, native high availability, simple scalability, enhanced security, and dependability for optimal performance while reducing the cost of connecting to a proprietary software vendor.

Features of Percona Server for MongoDB:

  • Some prominent tools integrating with Percona Server for MongoDB are Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, Azure Active Directory, and OpenLDAP.
  • The database performs a physical data backup on a running server in the background without affecting operation.
  • It provides enhanced query profiling by limiting the number of queries collected by the database profiler.
What users like best:

“The best thing about this server is that it has high scalability and high availability with fault tolerance capability. The server is also very developer-friendly with almost zero latency.”

Percona Server for MongoDB Review, Prasun P.

What users dislike:

“We need to tune MySQL for the best. Switching to Percona may not get the enhancements we’re looking for. Even with Percona, we will have to determine what enhancements are available and what settings we need to configure otherwise.”

Percona Server for MongoDB Review, M Lukman H.

Best free graph database software

A graph database represents and stores data using graph structures for semantic queries, such as nodes, edges, and properties. A graph is an essential element in the system and connects the data items to a set of nodes and edges, where the edges indicate the nodes’ relationships.

These relationships instantly connect stored data and, in many circumstances, retrieve it in a single operation. Because relationships are preserved indefinitely in the database, querying them is quick. Graph databases can easily display interconnections, which is helpful for extensively interconnected information.

What are the best free graph databases?

  1. Neo4j
  2. Dgraph
  3. Tigergraph

The list below contains real user reviews of the best free graph database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, not only do you have to be a free application, but also:

  • Offer data storage
  • Store and structure data in a topographical schema
  • Let users retrieve data using a querying language

*This list is based on G2 data collected on April 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.

1. Neo4j

Neo4j is an open-source graph database that helps businesses make data-driven decisions as it shows the relationships between people, processes, and systems. Neo4j maintains interconnected data by default, making data easier to comprehend. Companies can also use the property graph model to develop machine learning and AI models.

Neo4j uses a powerful declarative query language called Cypher Query language. It builds and retrieves data relationships without requiring sophisticated queries like SQL Joins.

The platform also facilitates high-performance graph searches on massive datasets. While the graph database makes up the Neo4j core, it offers additional analytics, data discovery, and development products. The database’s core features include high availability, online backup, and “whiteboard-friendly” data modeling.

Features of Neo4j:

  • Supports two kinds of Java API: Cypher API and Native Java API to develop Java applications.
  • The platform provides a built-in Neo4j browser web application to create and retrieve graph data.
  • It supports exporting query data to JSON and XLS format.
What users like best:

Neo4j is the most interactive and easy to use or query tool I have ever worked with. The cyphers are so user-friendly that someone with no knowledge of programming or query languages can get started at any moment which gives us an edge to explain the BI analysis and parameters to our customers. Visualizations help you debug and resolve the issues way faster compared to other DBs. And their integration with most cloud services allows a smooth integration in our applications.”

Neo4j Review, Garima G. 

What users dislike:

Some of the functions in APOC were available in Aurora. As a result, I had to mess around with a local install. That made it more difficult to share with colleagues.

Neo4j Review, Matt S.

2. Dgraph

Dgraph is a graph database system with a single schema development model. Users can use the tool to develop a schema, deploy it, and receive fast database and API access without writing any code.

Dgraph allows users to choose between GraphQL and DQL, so anyone with no prior knowledge of graph databases to get started. The database also boasts simple import and data streaming capabilities and the potential to simplify business logic with Dgraph Lambda.

Features of Dgraph:

  • The software allows users to update the schema at any time, and the graph updates accordingly.
  • It supports various open standards, including gRPC, Protocol Buffers, Go contexts, and Open Census integration for distributed tracing.
  • Dgraph GraphQL has built-in authorization. It enables users to label the schema with rules that govern who has access to or can change the data.
What users like best:

We have opted Dgraph Cloud platform for our enterprise as its highly scalable with low latency. It’s excellent for requirements that have real-time transactional workloads as it synchronizes customer records effectively. Data retrieval is hassle-free & we can perform arbitrary depth joins without worrying about our cluster limitations.”

Dgraph Review, Varshini S.

What users dislike:

“Dgraph requires high RAM to store a graph compared to other offerings. The managed offering doesn’t provide all the functionality possible using its Kubernetes cluster. The management has to be done by yourself or the DevOps team of the organization.”

Dgraph Review, Aditya G.

3. Tigergraph

Tigergraph is an enterprise-focused scalable graph database. The tool can handle any amount or complexity of datasets in real time, delivering all the features users expect from an enterprise-level graph database system.

Tigergraph’s scalable graph database provides analytics tools that are simple to use, even without the technical know-how, and delivers robust solutions. It can be scaled according to the growing company demands, offering trillion-edge graphs that perform real-time analytics.

Features of Tigergraph:

  • Tigergraph uses the GSQL query language, the industry standard for conducting high-performance analytics and graph operations. It provides high-level syntax, “Turing completeness”, and built-in parallelism for rapid development and performance.
  • GraphStudio is Tigergraph’s simple yet powerful graphical user interface (GUI), combining all aspects of graph data research into a single, highly usable application.
  • The platform provides users control and dependability by processing bulk loads at 100GB per hour/node and providing real-time live updates.
What users like best:

“Tigergraph was extremely useful for connecting data through machine learning. It helps drive our data points to make better business decisions.”

Tigergraph Reviews, James D.

What users dislike:

“Sometimes it becomes a bit slow at times.”

Tigergraph Review, Amit K.

Best free object-oriented database software

An object-oriented database (OOD) is a system that operates with sophisticated data objects, such as those found in object-oriented programming (OOP) languages. An object-oriented database is structured around objects rather than actions and data rather than logic.

Object-oriented databases treat data as whole objects. Instead of several tables, all information is presented in a single, instantly accessible object package.

An entity is represented as an object in OOP that is maintained in memory. Members of objects include fields, attributes, and methods. Objects have a life cycle that comprises an object’s creation, use, and disposal. Several major OOP languages are available today, including C++, Java, C#, Ruby, Python, JavaScript, and Perl.

What are the best free object-oriented databases?

  1. InterSystems Caché
  2. InterSystems IRIS
  3. GigaSpaces

The list below contains real user reviews of the best free object-oriented database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, you have to be a free application and:

  • Offer data storage
  • Store and structure data in object-based data models
  • Let users create, store, and update object data models

*This list is based on G2 data collected in April 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.

1. InterSystems Caché

InterSystems Caché is a full-featured database system with all the functionality required to run mission-critical applications, including journaling, backup and recovery, and system administration tools, for healthcare, banking and financial services, government, and other industries.

It works with substantially less database management than other database solutions, reducing operational expenses. The vast majority of Caché systems in use don’t have database administrators.

Features of InterSystems Caché:

  • The platform easily manages data via SQL, Java, Node.js, .NET, C++, and Python.
  • It also offers an application server that hosts web applications (CSP), REST, SOAP, web sockets, and other TCP access to Caché data.
What users like best:

“It’s a swift and secure database and can communicate with relational access, web pages, and object access.”

InterSystems Caché Review, Eike Scudellari F.

What users dislike:

“The Studio editor is a bit outdated, and I feel a lack of general information on the open web.”

InterSystems Caché Review, Andy C.

2. InterSystems IRIS

InterSystems IRIS is a high-performance data management platform that gives IT specialists the tools to develop machine learning and data connectivity applications. The software also supports database administration for SQL and NoSQL databases.

Businesses can use InterSystems IRIS to build, implement, and run data-intensive analytic applications with a single tool. It’s primarily designed for organizations that want bespoke apps to handle incoming data quickly and perform real-time data analytics.

Features of InterSystems IRIS:

  • Users can build unique apps that include machine learning, analytics, SQL, low-code business rules, natural language processing (NLP), and other features.
  • The platform supports vertical scaling with efficient memory management and fully automated parallel SQL processing.
  • It stores all data as rich, effective multi-dimensional arrays and provides direct access to control the native multi-dimensional arrays.
What users like best:

“The security, performance, built-in object functionality, and tight integration ensure rapid solution development and fail-safe delivery of the most complex requirement in a simplified object structure. The business Intelligence and unstructured data capabilities are in the system’s core, provided by a single stack environment.

No other development environment provides the levels of integrated functionality and ability to develop such powerful business objects. The connectivity engine is robust and has high levels of functionality and performance.”

InterSystems IRIS Review, André W.

What users dislike:

“BI reports (deepSee) are a bit dated, and it’s challenging to modify the generated report.”

InterSystems IRIS Review, Lucas B.

3. GigaSpaces

GigaSpaces innovates in-memory technology to accelerate digital business transformation with unrivaled speed, performance, and scalability. The GigaSpaces Portfolio offers the most powerful, scalable, and simple-to-deploy software solutions for the most demanding business data and analytics operational needs.

Its award-winning in-memory computing technology powers the Smart Cache and Smart Digital Integration Hub (DIH) systems.

Features of GigaSpaces:

  • The platform allows users to apply SQL query semantics to POJOs, documents, and GeoSpatial data.
  • It preserves ACID compliance against a data set through full transaction semantics.
What users like best:

“At its core, InsightEdge has the foundation you need for an application: execution, messaging, and storage. By design, you also have partitioning of these three concepts. This, together with its in-memory computing and fault tolerance, gives us a platform with so much flexibility.”

GigaSpaces Review, Roger F.

What users dislike:

“Development of the core product seemed to slow down during a few years. This has changed dramatically during the last few years, though!”

GigaSpaces Review, Joakim S.

Best free key-value database software

A key-value database, sometimes known as a key-value store, is a non-relational database that stores data using a simple key-value approach. It stores, retrieves, and maintains associative arrays as a dictionary. Dictionaries comprise objects or records with many different fields that store data.

Keys and values can be anything, from basic to sophisticated compound objects. Key-value databases are highly partitionable and enable horizontal scaling that other types of databases cannot.

When should you choose a key-value database?

  • When your application manages many small continuous reads and writes, a key-value database can be volatile. It provides quick in-memory access.
  • When preserving essential data, such as client information, storing websites with the URL as the key and the webpage as the value, and storing shopping-cart contents, product categories, and e-commerce product details
  • For programs that don’t need to be updated frequently or handle sophisticated queries

What are the best free key-value databases?

  1. ScyllaDB
  2. Aerospike
  3. Couchbase 

The list below contains real user reviews of the best free key-value database solutions on the market. To be included in this list, software must be free and:

  • Offer data storage
  • Store and structure data as a singular value mapped to a key
  • Let users retrieve data

*This list is based on G2 data collected in April 2023. Some reviews may have been edited for clarity.

1. ScyllaDB

ScyllaDB is an open-source distributed NoSQL database. It was created to work with Apache Cassandra while delivering much greater throughputs and reduced latencies. It supports the same protocols and file formats as Cassandra but is a completely rewritten implementation with the C++20 language.

Scylla supports Cassandra’s protocols and includes the Amazon DynamoDB API. ScyllaDB and Cassandra are nearly identical: the CQL protocol and queries, Nodetool, SSTables and compaction techniques, and even JMX support. ScyllaDB is compatible with many similar open-source applications and connectors as Cassandra, including JanusGraph, Spark, Kafka, Presto, KairosDB, Kong, etc.

Features of ScyllaDB:

  • The software offers a Spark-based ScyllaDB Migrator and Migration Guide to help users effortlessly migrate their data from current Cassandra clusters to ScyllaDB.
  • ScyllaDB is configured to achieve nearly 100% CPU utilization, with each operation assigned a priority class.
  • The unique Workload Prioritization functionality allows users to provide a relative priority to distinct user workloads in a clear role-based way. As a result, businesses can securely operate transactional workloads alongside analytical while streamlining and simplifying their data architecture.
What users like best:

ScyllaDB is great at scalability and Performance which makes it easy to quickly add or remove nodes from the cluster as necessary to accommodate escalating workloads or adapt to shifting traffic patterns. Because it employs a shared-nothing design, each node in the cluster is autonomous and has its own ability to function.

ScyllaDB Review, Hrishikesh Y.

What users dislike:

The installation process could be bit complex for new users as the steps are not clear. The installation process be a bit more simplified for bare minimum installations.

ScyllaDB Review, Raj K.

2. Aerospike

Aerospike is a cloud-based, on-premise NoSQL database platform that enables e-commerce, retail, online gaming, telecoms, and advertising companies to simplify multi-site clustering, cross datacenter replication, and load balancing, among other processes, on a single platform. It protects data with encryption, authentication, role-based access controls, and website whitelisting.

Aerospike’s cluster management technology automatically identifies nodes entering and leaving the cluster and re-replicates data when nodes are added or deleted to ensure proper functioning during hardware failures. Cross datacenter replication (XDR) replicates and syncs data across several geographic locations. Companies can also design and implement audit trails to log failed database operations, security violations, authentication protocols, user management procedures, etc.

Features of Aerospike:

  • The database is built in C and based on the shared-nothing (SN) architecture. It comprises three layers: data storage, self-managed distribution, and cluster-aware client.
  • The software includes two subprograms called Defragmenter and Evictor. Defragmenter eliminates destroyed data blocks, while Evictor frees up RAM space by removing references to expired records.
  • It enables storing, indexing, and querying Geospatial data represented as GeoJSON.
What users like best:

“Aerospike helps store data as cached and the database with complete XDR functionality. It’s an excellent database by combining the power of Redis and SQL compliant queries.”

Aerospike Review, Imran K.

What users dislike:

“Aerospike can be tricky to size the cluster, although support is beneficial.”

Aerospike Review, Ido B.

3. Couchbase

Couchbase is a multi-model NoSQL database used for mission critical applications that is designed to deliver personalized employee experiences. It was architected on top of an open source foundation and promises to deliver agility and manageability. 

Couchbase customers include leaders such as AT&T, Carrefour, Cisco, Disney, Tesco, Wells Fargo, and many more. 

Features of Couchbase:

  • Couchbase helps with data management in terms of data models, data types, built-in search, event-triggers
  • It offers a high-level of security 
  • Couchbase supports multi-model, operating systems, query optimization, auto recovery
What users like best:

“It’s pretty fast, indexing and all can be done with just one line and it makes the queries execute 100 times faster. And the best thing I find is the documentation, many times I come across a new use case and am unable to implement then I look for that in the documentation and find all the answers to all the use case I had. Doesn’t perform well when data increases, lot of times I get ambiguous timeout exceptions. Couchbase UI is also very easy to use.”

Couchbase Review, Amit P.

What users dislike:

I was using it with Spring Webflux that is reactive, so while processing data parallely the load on couchbase goes very high and operations start failing. Would love to see some inbuilt support on this to handle traffic properly.

Couchbase Review, Amit P

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So many choices, so little time

Several database management software choices can fit your database administration requirements. Other types of similar software are available for various prices, operating platforms, and special needs. Select the one that best meets your needs.

A good database serves as the foundation for a multitude of business applications. Learn how database management can support your data management strategy.

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