Using Microsoft Excel spreadsheet as a database

Many of us need to keep track of data and understandably turn to database software specifically designed for the task. However, database software is complex, difficult to learn, and loaded with features many of us simply don’t require. At times it would be convenient to have some of the features of a database without all the complications – but how is this possible?

The answer may lie in the spreadsheet. Spreadsheet software has been keeping track of the financials for millions of companies around the world for decades, but their format also makes them perfect for keeping track of other, less numerical types of data as well.

As many of us already know our way around a spreadsheet – even if it is at a basic level - we won’t be faced with the same learning curve required of a dedicated relational database system. Given Microsoft’s heavy marketing of their Office suite in the past few years it is entirely possible that you already have access to a copy of Microsoft Excel if you happen to own a relatively new PC. Without the need to hire expensive programmers, or even purchase the software in many cases, Excel is a very financially friendly solution to your database needs.

While not specifically database centric Excel still has many powerful features built in which make it easy to store and retrieve information. And with hundreds of columns and thousands of rows there’s plenty of room for copious amount of data.

However, using Excel as a database does require careful construction of your rows and columns. If you think of each column as a field and your rows as a data set you have a good basis for making a start on your Excel database. With careful design it is perfectly possible to delve into your data to glean valuable information from it – just like in a traditional database. You can sort and filter data in a variety of different ways, view data to match specific criteria, and quickly re-organize the data as your needs change.


While a database is a powerful tool for business it becomes much more powerful when it is shared online. It’s a relatively simple process to share an Excel created database via one of the many cloud based file sharing options but the majority of these require downloading of the file in order to view and make changes – which severely limits the usefulness of the database. A database that is accessible online to a number of users who can all view data and make changes on the fly is a much more useful tool.

You may think that a database of this nature would cost many hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in development fees. While this may have been true in the past it’s no longer the case as an Excel spreadsheet can be created, uploaded, and turned into an online database in a matter of minutes. If your database needs are modest (less than 100 records) and you have no need to host the software on your own domain then an online database of your very own may even be completely free. offer up such a solution which has been specifically created to be used easily by anyone with little experience in databases, programming, or even Excel for that matter. You can get started for free with the basic package. This is an excellent entry point to discover if is the solution you need without any of financial burden – perfect for a startup company with limited financial resources. As your needs grow you can sign up to one of the paid packages which give you extra options for more powerful solutions and a lot more data storage capacity.