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Limitations of File Based Systems

Limitations of file based systems

Limitations of file based systems

One of the quickest and easist ways to save data persistently (so that you don’t lose data when the computer is switched off or the program you are running closes) is to save the data to a text or csv file. The files are great if you are just ‘dumping’ the data (such as writing to an error log) or saving configuration settings, but when you start to handle large amounts of data or when you need to be able to edit or search the data you run into problems.


  • Text data must be read sequentially, which means that if you have thousands(or even millions) of items in the file it is going to take a long time to read the data.
  • There is no in-built search function, so you have to search through data manually.
  • You often cannot edit a single line, you have to rewrite the entire file.
  • Filtering is slow and difficult – you have to import all the data into an 2 dimensional array and filter the data from there.
  • Because there is no way of establishing relationships between the data entered, there is often large amounts of redundancy in the data (duplication)

This means that file-based systems are often not the best solution and a relational database is more appropriate.