Databases – Desktop or Server

I recently found an article (source withheld until approval granted) which stated the following…


The biggest limitation (that you should be concerned about) is desktop databases generally only allow one concurrent user to open the database.

Attempting to use a desktop database in a multi-user environment could lead to disastrous consequences – like data corruptions and errors. Generally speaking, if more than one person will be modifying the data, you might have problems that require maintenance.

Now this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a desktop database. If you have a single user or small network and it will stay that way, you might be better off with some of the more affordable POS systems using desktop databases. You’ll probably never know the difference.

There are plenty of businesses that push their desktop database limits on 5, 10 or 15 user networks. They just learn to live with the errors and common maintenance requirements.


While the statements are true in themselves, there is much more to be looked at in order to determine the real ‘biggest limitation’ of a POS Software application.

While some database manufactures do put a limit on the number of concurrent connections – Microsoft’s SQL Desktop Edition (MSDE) greatly degraded performance after 5 connections – databases can just as easily (if not more so) become un-useful due to poor design and/or poor programming in the application. Experienced programmers can (and should) build software to include safety precautions and self-data validation.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you have a ‘server’ database, the application will run like a champ or just because you have a ‘desktop’ database, you are limited to 1 or 2 terminals or must live with ‘errors and common maintenance requirements’.