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How to Use Google Sheets as Database in 2024 (FREE Templates) – Pros and Cons

Google Sheets offers plenty of powerful tools to organize and analyze massive datasets. As a cloud-based spreadsheet program, it can be connected with various web applications to collect data using APIs. You can create a decent database for your internet applications.

A database is crucial for the proper functioning of web applications. It requires constant maintenance, depending on the size.

Things are even more complicated while installing and configuring datasets.

Google Sheets are easy to set up and perfect for organizing datasets in tabular form.

Many business owners use Google Sheets to store information related to their small and medium business activities.

You may be asking if there is any way to use Google Sheets as a database.

In this quick guide, let us learn how to use Google Sheets as database. We will dive deep into the pros and cons of using Google Sheets as a database. At the end, you will find 3 free database templates for your requirements, so make sure to read the article till the end.

What is a Database?

A database is the backbone of web applications that operate on the Internet.

It is nothing but a storage system that relies on MySQL, MongoDB, BigQuery, and so on to gather and manage information in tabular form.

The database includes named records across the rows and named fields across the columns.

Users can manipulate the stored information by managing the tables and querying data. They can also perform a series of operations depending on the type of technology and Database Management System (DBMS).

Why use Google Sheets as Database?

Standard database management systems are a bit complicated. You need coding experience to install, configure, and manage them in the long term.

On the other hand, spreadsheet software like Google Sheets allows everyday users to perform complex mathematical calculations. They can build comprehensive reports for informed decision-making.

Google Sheets is empowered by hundreds of built-in functions and tools that can be mastered within a short period.

Here are a few of the benefits of using Google Sheets as a database:

#1 – Cloud-based

This spreadsheet software is a part of Google Workspace Suite (formerly G Suite). It is one of the best office suites of 2024.

All of the information, including your files, is stored safely across Google Cloud.

#2 – Affordable

Google Sheets is a free-to-use program. All you need is a free Google account that boasts 15 GB of storage.

In case you need more storage, sign up for one of the Google Workspace premium plans that starts at $6 per month per user.

Most of the time, you don’t need a paid plan because the free plan offers enough storage space and comes with all the tools and functions without any limitations.

Premium plans are the best fit for businesses looking for advanced collaboration tools and a complete set of office software such as Sheets, Docs, Slides, etc.

#3 – Team Collaboration

The program boasts real-time collaboration features in both free and paid versions. An unlimited number of users can access Google Sheets simultaneously.

Everyone can see who is online and the respective cells they are editing.

Owners can assign specific roles to each user so they will be able to view, comment, and edit. They can also view the edit history using a built-in tool and restore the previous versions as per their choice.

#3 – Reporting

Spreadsheet programs such as Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets are the go-to choices for many business owners to prepare and present reports.

Google Sheets boasts a decent selection of charts and graphs to let you build information dashboards.

Apart from the graphs and charts, you can use functions and tools to sort and filter data. Many lookup and statistical functions in Google Sheets are pre-built.

#4 – Ease of Use

Google Sheets is a decade-old spreadsheet software that comes with a short learning curve.

You can include advanced features in your file using built-in functions and tools. There are 400+ mathematical, statistical, and conditional functions in Google Sheets.

Beginners may hardly take a few days to learn this program. There are plenty of resources available online.

#5 – Quick Setup

Unlike Database Management Systems (DBMS), Google Sheets takes only a few minutes to set up. When it comes to APIs and codes, there are plenty of support documents available on Google’s official website.

Moreover, you will find a handful of useful premade database templates online. We have discussed a few of the most common database templates using Google Sheets at the end of this article.

Users don’t need to be coding experts to set up and use Google Sheets as a database.

#6 – Integrations

Last but not least, Google Sheets is an online spreadsheet program that can be integrated with a range of web applications using APIs.

If you are too lazy and don’t even wish to copy and paste the ready-to-use codes available online, go for tools like Zapier or Coupler, which lets you connect data management tools with Google Sheets.

It seamlessly integrates with other Google products, such as Google Forms, to collect data.

What are the drawbacks of using Google Sheets as database?

Spreadsheet apps like Google Sheets are not meant to be used as databases. Their primary purpose is to organize datasets and offer basic data visualization capabilities.

A standalone database management system comes with its own set of advanced tools and features. Also, they keep up with the industry trends and boast robust features for maintaining datasets in the long run.

In this section, we have listed cons of Google Sheets as a database:

#1 – Scalability

As mentioned earlier, Google Sheets isn’t built for database management.

You can use Google Sheets to manage small and medium-sized databases. However, with a growing business, it may not be the right fit.

Issues such as slow loading may arise while many of your team members start accessing and editing the Google Sheets simultaneously. In contrast to a dedicated database management system, increasing your storage space may not help in this case.

#2 – Storage

Google Sheets offers 15GB of free storage for users, making it the right fit for small and medium-sized businesses.

If you opt-in for one of the paid plans, the storage starts from 30GB to 5TB pooled storage per user. It is a decent choice, considering the growth of your organization over the next couple of years.

If your team and customers grow significantly, Google Sheets will fall short compared to a standalone database management system (DBMS).

#3 – Performance

As discussed in the previous drawback, Google Sheets’s storage capacity is limited. Users can’t build complex databases and store huge amounts of data.

Many day-to-day users have reported slow response times and various errors while simultaneously handling large datasets along with their massive number of colleagues.

#4 – Functionality

Google Sheets focuses on organizing datasets in tabular form and allowing users to perform various calculations to prepare reports.

In contrast to standalone database management systems, Google Sheets lacks a few advanced features, such as video storage.

This is because the program itself is not designed to be used as a database.

Regardless of this fact, many business owners use it as a database because it offers the basic functionalities of a standalone database management system (DBMS).

#5 – Data Queries

When it comes to querying data, database management systems (DBMS) offer more options than Google Sheets.

In short, the query mechanism offered by Google Sheets is not as powerful as a dedicated DBMS.

How to use Google Sheets as Database

Note that Google Sheets is the best tool if you are in the early stages of your web application development. Simply put, for small business owners, it is a lifesaver.

The program will save you money as well as let you quickly create and integrate a database.

For the sake of simplicity, I have divided using Google Sheets as a database into four sections called the CRUD.

1. Creating Database

You can consider a simple example, such as recording the e-commerce customer information, including their names, products purchased, date of purchase, etc.

The data needs to be frequently modified by including the new records.

Google Sheets offers an intuitive user interface to let users add information in tabular form. Users can create a table and start entering the data within a few minutes.

2. Reading Database

It is the second feature of a database management system (DBMS).

Reading means searching for specific data in your database. For example, consider you wish to find customers who placed orders in January 2023.

It is also known as querying the database.

Google Sheets comes with a range of tools and functions to filter and sort datasets.

3. Updating Database

Apart from adding new information, as discussed in the first section, you may wish to update the existing information, such as customer contact details.

The spreadsheet program is good at updating the existing records as well.

You can simply query the database to locate the exact information that needs to be updated. Then, select it and start editing right away.

4. Deleting Records

It is the final and crucial feature of a database. It should allow users to remove single or multiple records at once.

Google Sheets lets you delete records in bulk.

In case anything is deleted accidentally, users can quickly restore it using built-in tools.

Q. How can I Export/Import Data in Google Sheets?

You may be wondering how to import or export data from Google Sheets.

It’s pretty simple. Here are the three methods to add or extract data from the Google Sheets database.

Method #1 – Manually Exporting or Importing Data

Notably, in the case of organizations where the data size is small, manually exporting or importing data makes sense.

Google Sheets allows you to export datasets in various formats, including popular CSV (comma-separated) and others such as TSV and XLSX.

Whereas, for importing, it supports .csv, .tsv, .xs, .xlsx, .xlsm, .txt, etc.

Method #2 – Using the Google Sheets API

Google Sheets API allows users to update their database automatically. It is used to integrate Google Sheets with your business application.

In other words, unlike the previous method, you don’t need to update information manually by importing the fresh data.

For example, e-commerce customer data, including product information, inventory, price, and more, are updated automatically without any human interference.

This automation avoids errors and makes data more accurate by updating everything in real time.

Method #3 – Using Third-party Apps

There are plenty of third-party applications, such as Zapier and Coupler that let you connect Google Sheets with other web apps.

They are beneficial while migrating databases.

All of them are simple to use and offer extensive documentation to get started. However, note that most of the time, you need to shell out a few dollars to use their full capabilities.

Q. How do I use Google Sheets as a Database with API?

Note that Google Sheets API is easy to set up. However, once it’s done, for future upgrades or adding advanced features, you need to learn JSON.

Google Sheets API lets you perform all the tasks, including creating, reading, updating, and deleting the entries from the database. It even allows you to create charts.

Let’s look at the steps to configure Google Sheets API,

Step #1 – Create Google Sheets API

  • Go to Google API Console by clicking here
  • Click on the “Select a project” button as shown in the following image
  • You will see the following options
  • Click on the “NEW PROJECT” button on the upper-rightmost corner of the screen
  • Type the name for your project as “Test Project
  • Now, go back to the console and type in “Google Sheets” in the search bar. Refer to the following image
  • Click on the first result
  • Press the “Enable” button

Step #2 – Create a Service Account

  • Open the Google API Console page
  • Go to the “Credentials” from the left-side menu
  • Click the “CREATE CREDENTIALS” button at the top. Refer to the following image
  • Choose “Service Account” from the popup
  • A new popup will appear, as shown below
  • Enter the name for your service account as “Test
  • Edit the Service Account ID
  • Press the “CREATE AND CONTINUE” button
  • Next, Click on the empty box below the Select a role option
  • Go to the “Project” option from the popup
  • Then, select the “Editor” option
  • Press the “Done” button

Step #3 – Create a Service Key

Once the Service account is created, you need to enable the Service key using the following steps.

  • Open the Google API Console page
  • Visit the “Credentials” option from the left menu
  • Select the service account
  • You will see the following set of options
  • Click on the “KEYS” tab
  • Press the “Add Key” button
  • Choose “Create new key” from the popup
  • Keep the selection as is and click the “Create” button

A JSON file will be downloaded on your local computer. Make sure to keep it safe, as it holds the essential data for authenticating the app.

Get the client’s email,

  • Open the downloaded file
  • You will see the client email as shown below
  • Copy that part between the double quotes

Step #4 – Allow Access to Spreadsheet

The client email we obtained previously is used to connect the app with Google Sheets using API.

Open the spreadsheet you wish to use as a database.

Here are the steps to allow the access,

  • Click the “Share” button on the upper-rightmost corner of the screen
  • Paste the client email in the search bar as shown in the following image
  • Press the “Send” button

With this, you will be able to update your spreadsheet data using queries from the Google API Console.

To create queries for future data manipulation, the knowledge of JSON is critical.

Q. What are the steps to use Google Sheets as a Database for HTML pages?

The steps are pretty straightforward. However, once the setup is done, you will need to learn the JSON to perform further tasks or operations on your database.

You can perform CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) operations on your database.

Here are the steps:

  • Create a new Google Sheets by clicking here
  • Name it as “Test – Database
  • Now, hover to the main menu and click on the “Extensions” tab
  • Choose the “Apps Script” option from the popup
  • A new tab will open on your browser
  • Click on the “Untitled Project” on the upper-leftmost corner of the screen
  • Name the Apps Script as “Test HTML Page
  • Click on the “+” icon after the Files option. Refer to the following image
  • Select “HTML” from the popup
  • Name the HTML file “Homepage
  • Erase all the code from the editor
  • Copy and paste the following code into the editor
  • Next, click on the “Code.gs” file from the left-side navigation
  • Erase all the available code
  • Copy and paste the following code
  • Deploy the code by clicking on the “Deploy” button on the upper-rightmost corner of the screen
  • Select “New Deployment” from the popup
  • Click on the Settings icon beside the Select type option. Refer to the following image
  • Choose “Web app” from the popup
  • Describe your app by clicking on the empty box below the “Description” option. For now, let us type “This is a test app”
  • Click the “Deploy” button
function doGet() {
  return HtmlService.createHtmlOutputFromFile('Homepage');
}

var spreadsheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet().getSheetByName('Homepage_Data');
  
function readData() {
  var range = spreadsheet.getRange(1, 1,spreadsheet.getLastRow(), spreadsheet.getLastColumn()).getValues();
  return range;
};
function writeData(sendvalue) {
  spreadsheet.getRange(spreadsheet.getLastRow()+1, 1).activate();
  spreadsheet.getRange(spreadsheet.getLastRow()+1, 1).setValue(sendvalue);
};

The HTML page has been created. But before proceeding further, you need to authorize it using the following steps:

  • After clicking the “Deploy” button, a new popup will open, as shown in the following image
  • Click the “Authorize access” button
  • Select the Google account
  • Press the “Advanced” button
  • Click on the “Go to Sample HTML Page (unsafe)
  • Now, you will see the following popup: click on the URL to open your HTML page.

Here’s how it looks. You can add the data in the app, and it will start reflecting in the spreadsheet.

As mentioned at the beginning, for future updates or adding more features, the knowledge of the JSON is a must.

Q. Should I use Google Sheets as a Relational Database?

A Relational Database includes multiple tables that are connected with each other. The secondary tables are updated automatically based on the data from the primary tables. 

In the case of small data, you can use Google Sheets as a relational database.

However, note that it is not meant to be used as a relational database and may return errors while handling a massive dataset. It may also be chaotic when multiple users handle the data tables.

Finally, I would not suggest you use Google Sheets as a Relational Database.

Top 5 FREE Google Sheets Database Templates of 2024

1. CRM Database

Use Google Sheets as Database - Pros and Cons - Ultimate Guide

Click Here to Use This Template!

The above template is used to track and manage customers or clients. It comes with all the necessary fields to keep a record of your clients and their transactions.

You can connect it with other CRM platforms using Google Sheets API or third-party apps.

The template will help you track customer data and ensure long-term business.

By keeping all of your customer’s or client’s information in one place, you can easily make informed business decisions.

2. E-commerce Inventory Database

Click Here to Use This Template!

It is one of the most sought-after templates out there, helping you keep track of inventory levels, product prices and sales, technical details, location, and much more.

The inventory template also lets you keep track of vendors.

If you are a small or medium-sized e-commerce business owner, this template is all you need to manage inventory.

You can easily integrate this inventory management template with external web applications using Google Sheets API and third-party plugins.

3. WordPress Contact Form Database

Click Here to Use This Template!

Few content management systems, including WordPress, integrate seamlessly with the Google Sheets.

The above template can be used to collect subscribers or form submissions on the website.

You can use third-party plugins to integrate WordPress with Google Sheets and exchange the data using a CSV (comma-separated) file.

A few of the excellent WordPress plugins to connect Google Sheets:

  • NinjaForms
  • Contact Forms 7
  • WP Forms
  • GravityForms

In the case of Django CMS, which comes with a built-in tool capable of importing and exporting CSV, you don’t need any third-party app or plugin.

Conclusion

That’s all about using Google Sheets as a Database Management System.

Google Sheets is the best fit for keeping track of small and medium-sized business activities.

If you are already using Google Workspace Apps to manage your office activities, give it a try to Google Sheets as a database over those paid DBMS (Database Management Systems)

This article includes all the bells and whistles of using Google Sheets as a database. Feel free to comment below if you are still having any doubts.

Also, make sure to explore our blog for more tips and tricks on using Google Sheets to save money and improve productivity.