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12 Best Desktop Database Software

After hours of sifting through countless tools, I've curated this quick shortlist of the 12 best desktop database software:

  1. Microsoft Access - Best for beginner database designers due to intuitive GUI
  2. Claris FileMaker - Best for mobile-friendly database solutions
  3. SQLite - Best for embedded database systems owing to its lightweight nature
  4. DB Browser for SQLite - Best for visualizing SQLite databases with a user-friendly interface
  5. Base (LibreOffice) - Best for open-source and cross-platform database management
  6. PostgreSQL - Best for complex queries and robust transactional operations
  7. MySQL Workbench - Best for designing and managing MySQL databases
  8. IBM Db2 Express-C - Best for enterprises needing high-performance and scalability
  9. MongoDB Compass - Best for managing document-oriented NoSQL databases
  10. Microsoft SQL Server Express - Best for small-scale projects needing comprehensive data management tools
  11. 4D - Best for rapid application development and deployment in database environment
  12. Omnis - Best for developing web and mobile applications using databases

As a seasoned user and evaluator of various desktop database software, I've personally experienced the transformative impact these tools can have on data management and application development.

From relational database management systems to on-premise data warehouses, database software allows for the efficient handling of large data sets and aids in the smooth running of applications that utilize big data. You might be a database administrator overseeing permissions, managing latency issues, or deploying CRM solutions. Or perhaps you're seeking to convert massive spreadsheets into more manageable, searchable databases.

The best desktop database software simplifies these tasks, making your job not only easier but also more effective. With the right tool, you can create and manage data-intensive applications with ease, even if your datasets are in the realm of big data.

Leveraging the power of in-memory computing and advanced database applications, these tools are designed to eliminate common pain points like inefficient data retrieval and time-consuming data entry.

Moreover, a well-designed desktop database software is essentially a data warehouse right at your fingertips. It can integrate with cloud databases, provide intuitive tutorial guides, offer free database templates, and support HTML interfaces for data input and output.

Whether you're operating on a low-cost budget or seeking advanced features, there's a tool out there that can meet your specific needs. So, take some time to explore the options I've recommended - I think you'll find them invaluable in your quest for efficient data management.

What is a Desktop Database Software?

Desktop database software refers to a type of application that provides an interface for users to interact with databases directly from their desktop computers. These tools facilitate the creation, querying, updating, and administration of databases, simplifying data storage and retrieval processes. A wide array of individuals and organizations, including small business owners, researchers, IT professionals, and large corporations, use desktop database software.

These tools serve a multitude of purposes, such as managing customer relationships, tracking sales, organizing research data, or even powering sophisticated web applications. They provide a structured method for storing, organizing, and retrieving information, making them an invaluable asset in our data-driven world.

Overviews of the 12 Best Desktop Database Software

1. Microsoft Access - Best for beginner database designers due to intuitive GUI

A screenshot focused on the dashboard of Microsoft Access.
Take a look at the dashboard of Microsoft Access.

Microsoft Access is a robust desktop database software that provides users the ability to design and manage databases effortlessly. With its intuitive graphical user interface, even individuals new to the world of database design find their footing quickly.

Why I Picked Microsoft Access:

I chose Microsoft Access for this list because it offers a good balance between complexity and ease of use. It's a comprehensive tool, yet its user-friendly design makes it accessible to beginners. I decided it was best for beginner database designers because of its intuitive GUI. It guides users through the creation of tables, queries, forms, and reports, which simplifies the learning curve significantly.

Standout features & integrations:

Microsoft Access comes with a powerful query interface and robust reporting tools that let users compile and visualize data effectively. Its strong integration with other Microsoft products, such as Excel and Word, makes it a useful tool for many businesses.


Microsoft Access starts at $8.25/user/month (billed annually) as part of the Microsoft 365 Apps plan. This price includes not only Access but also other essential Microsoft Windows applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.


  • Intuitive user interface
  • Strong integration with Microsoft's ecosystem
  • Robust reporting capabilities


  • Limited scalability for large databases
  • No native Mac version
  • Learning curve for complex operations

2. Claris FileMaker - Best for mobile-friendly database solutions

A photo for a sample project done inside the tool Claris FileMaker.
Here's an example of a successful project done inside Claris FileMaker.

Claris FileMaker is a flexible and versatile platform that helps users create custom database solutions. Designed with mobility in mind, it offers the ability to build apps that work seamlessly across mobile devices on both iOS and Android, Mac OS, desktops, and the web.

Why I Picked Claris FileMaker:

I selected Claris FileMaker because it presents a unique approach to database solutions. It’s not just about managing databases; it's about creating custom applications that fit specific needs. What makes it stand out is its focus on mobile-friendly solutions. I identified it as the best for mobile-friendly database solutions because it has a strong emphasis on building apps that function well on smartphones and tablets, addressing the growing need for on-the-go database access.

Standout features & integrations:

Claris FileMaker features a robust drag-and-drop app builder, which makes creating custom database apps a breeze. Its scripting capabilities enable advanced automations and workflows, enhancing efficiency. As for integrations, it plays well with SQL, APIs, and web services, and it provides a host of plugins for enhanced functionality.


Claris FileMaker offers services starting at $19/user/month (billed annually). They also have a team pricing plan, but that requires a minimum of 5 users.


  • Strong focus on mobile-friendly solutions
  • Wide range of integrations
  • Drag-and-drop app builder


  • A bit of a learning curve for non-technical users
  • Can be expensive for small teams
  • Limited options for visualizing data

3. SQLite - Best for embedded database systems owing to its lightweight nature

A photo of SQLite's website.
Get a glimpse of how the website of SQLite is designed and organized.

SQLite is an open-source, serverless, and self-contained SQL database engine. Its primary function is to provide local storage for individual applications and devices. With its lightweight nature, it is the preferred choice for embedded database systems.

Why I Picked SQLite:

I picked SQLite for this list because it brings something quite different to the table - it's a compact, standalone database that doesn't require a separate server process.

I judged it as the best for embedded database systems primarily due to its lightweight nature. It's designed to provide local storage, making it ideal for applications and devices where the conventional client-server architecture isn't feasible or necessary.

Standout features & integrations:

SQLite features a transactional SQL database engine with zero configuration, which means it requires less setup than many other databases. Its file-based nature makes it easy to share data across platforms and systems. Since SQLite is embedded, it doesn't offer typical database integrations, but it can be used with a variety of programming languages like Python, PHP, and Java.


Being an open-source software, SQLite is free to use.


  • Lightweight and efficient
  • Serverless and self-contained
  • Supports a variety of programming languages


  • Limited concurrency
  • Not ideal for large-scale applications
  • Lacks some advanced SQL features

4. DB Browser for SQLite - Best for visualizing SQLite databases with a user-friendly interface

A photo for DB Browser for SQLite in Mac interface.
DB Browser for SQLite visualizes your SQLite databases and projects.

DB Browser for SQLite is an open-source tool designed to manage SQLite databases visually. It provides a user-friendly interface to create, design, and edit database files compatible with SQLite. Its interface shines when it comes to data visualization, making it best for anyone seeking a straightforward way to work with SQLite databases.

Why I Picked DB Browser for SQLite:

I chose DB Browser for SQLite because it offers a unique, visually oriented approach to managing SQLite databases. Its main distinction lies in the ability to visualize data intuitively. The software excels in providing a user-friendly interface, making it best for those who want an easy-to-use tool to create, design, and edit SQLite databases.

Standout features & integrations:

DB Browser for SQLite stands out for its graphical interface, allowing for the easy creation and manipulation of SQLite databases. Additionally, the software lets users execute SQL queries and scripts for more complex tasks. While it doesn't have traditional integrations, it operates well with SQLite database files created in any environment, ensuring compatibility and flexibility.


DB Browser for SQLite is an open-source tool, so it's free to use.


  • User-friendly interface for visualizing data
  • Compatibility with SQLite databases from various environments
  • Supports execution of complex SQL queries


  • No direct integrations with other tools
  • Limited advanced features
  • Performance may lag with large databases

5. Base (LibreOffice) - Best for open-source and cross-platform database management

A screenshot of the website for the tool Base.
Here's a screenshot of the home page for the website of Base.

Base, a component of the LibreOffice suite, is an open-source, cross-platform desktop database software designed to manage databases, create forms, and produce reports. As part of the LibreOffice suite, it works seamlessly across different platforms, making it the perfect choice for those seeking open-source and cross-platform database management software solutions.

Why I Picked Base (LibreOffice):

I picked Base (LibreOffice) because it exemplifies the spirit of open-source, cross-platform functionality. The software's flexibility sets it apart; it works on multiple operating systems without sacrificing any features. Its open-source nature and cross-platform compatibility make it a compelling choice for those seeking a no-cost, multi-platform solution for database management.

Standout features & integrations:

Base boasts a broad set of features, including the creation of forms, reports and the ability to create and manage databases. Its integration with the LibreOffice suite means it works well with other components, allowing for efficient data import/export among various formats. Additionally, it supports a wide range of database systems, including MySQL, MS Access, and PostgreSQL.


Base (LibreOffice) is an open-source tool, meaning it's free to use.


  • Extensive cross-platform support
  • Integrates well with the LibreOffice suite
  • Supports a broad range of database systems


  • Interface may feel outdated compared to other options
  • Could require a steep learning curve for beginners
  • Lacks extensive customer support due to its open-source nature

6. PostgreSQL - Best for complex queries and robust transactional operations

A photo for the dashboard in the tool PostgreSQL.
Here's the dashboard when using PostgreSQL.

PostgreSQL is an advanced open-source database system known for its proven architecture, reliability, data integrity, and robust feature set. It thrives on complex queries and transactional operations, making it the best fit for applications where robustness and complex querying are a priority.

Why I Picked PostgreSQL:

In my process of selecting a database system, I chose PostgreSQL due to its robustness and remarkable capability to handle complex queries and transactional operations. It stands out due to its extensibility, supporting various advanced data types, and its adherence to the SQL standard. Given these traits, it's clear why it's my choice for complex queries and robust transactional operations.

Standout features & integrations:

Among PostgreSQL's key features are its compatibility with multiple programming languages, advanced indexing techniques, and support for complex queries. Its integrations cover a wide range, including Python, Java, .NET, Node.js, and many other programming languages.


PostgreSQL is open-source software, making it freely available for use.


  • Supports advanced data types and complex SQL queries
  • Highly extensible and customizable
  • Strong community support


  • Can be complex to set up and manage
  • Might consume more system resources compared to other database systems
  • Might be overkill for simple applications with straightforward data needs

7. MySQL Workbench - Best for designing and managing MySQL databases

A screenshot focused on the administration dashboard of MySQL Workbench.
MySQL Workbench is able to provide database design and management effeciently. Here's a screenshot of its administration dashboard.

MySQL Workbench is a unified visual tool for database architects, developers, and DBAs. It provides comprehensive tools to model, design, generate, and manage databases efficiently. Its close integration with MySQL databases makes it an excellent choice for designing and managing MySQL databases.

Why I Picked MySQL Workbench:

When it came to selecting a tool for MySQL database design and management, MySQL Workbench was my first choice. The reason is straightforward - it's specifically tailored for MySQL, offering features and capabilities that are compatible and fully integrated with the database system. It stands out because of its dedicated environment and tools that are optimized for MySQL, making it the best choice for designing and managing MySQL databases.

Standout features & integrations:

MySQL Workbench is packed with features like visual database design, SQL development, and comprehensive administration tools. The tool supports forward engineering, reverse engineering, database migration, and much more. As for integrations, it works flawlessly with all MySQL products, including MySQL Server, MySQL Cluster, MySQL Connectors, etc.


MySQL Workbench is open-source and available for use free of charge.


  • Tailored for MySQL and integrated with MySQL products
  • Comprehensive tools for designing, developing, and administering MySQL databases
  • Supports database migrations


  • Only compatible with MySQL databases
  • User interface can be complex for beginners
  • Some users report stability issues

8. IBM Db2 Express-C - Best for enterprises needing high-performance and scalability

A photo for the data source explorer feature of IBM Db2 Express-C.
Here is a screenshot of IBM's data source explorer that can be used to browse the database content.

IBM Db2 Express-C is a community edition of the IBM Db2 database software, providing a high-performing and scalable solution for managing relational and XML data. With its features and capabilities, it’s particularly well-suited for enterprises that need high-performance and scalability in their operations.

Why I Picked IBM Db2 Express-C:

When selecting a tool for enterprises needing robust performance and scalability, my choice was IBM Db2 Express-C. This software is a part of IBM's highly reputable Db2 family, offering an enterprise-grade database solution without enterprise-grade costs. In a market filled with database software, IBM Db2 Express-C stands out due to its performance, reliability, and scalability features, making it a perfect choice for businesses that require such traits.

Standout features & integrations:

IBM Db2 Express-C provides features such as advanced data management, high availability, disaster recovery, and replication services. It also integrates with a variety of applications, including data warehousing, transactional systems, and analytics applications. Furthermore, it allows integration with IBM's larger Db2 family for businesses looking to upgrade their systems.


IBM Db2 Express-C is available at no cost, providing users with access to a robust, enterprise-grade database software without additional expenses.


  • Highly robust performance and scalability
  • Advanced data management capabilities
  • Integration with a range of applications and IBM's Db2 family


  • Does not include some of the advanced features of the full IBM Db2
  • Can be complex to set up and configure
  • Support is community-based, with limited direct support from IBM

9. MongoDB Compass - Best for managing document-oriented NoSQL databases

Use MongoDB to import CSV and JSON files and design your data efficiently.

MongoDB Compass is an intuitive graphical user interface that lets you interact with your MongoDB databases. This makes it a powerful tool for those managing document-oriented NoSQL databases, giving them the ability to analyze and understand their data in a more visual and digestible manner.

Why I Picked MongoDB Compass:

In my decision-making process, I chose MongoDB Compass primarily for its user-friendly interface and excellent compatibility with MongoDB, a leading NoSQL database. This tool is distinctly positioned in its support for document-oriented databases, a strong point not always found in other database management tools. I believe it's best for managing document-oriented NoSQL databases due to its ability to offer visual insights into data, making data management a lot more intuitive and efficient.

Standout features & integrations:

MongoDB Compass has a variety of features, including schema visualization, ad-hoc query support, and an index management system. It also provides real-time database server statistics, enabling you to keep a tab on server performance. As for integrations, MongoDB Compass supports integration with MongoDB Atlas, MongoDB’s fully managed database service, for a seamless data management experience.


MongoDB Compass is available free of charge, but there is also a MongoDB Compass Pro version with advanced features. The pricing for the Pro version is upon request.


  • Provides a visual interface for database management
  • Good integration with MongoDB Atlas
  • Real-time server statistics for performance monitoring


  • Lacks advanced features in the free version
  • Limited utility for non-MongoDB databases
  • May require some learning curve for new users

10. Microsoft SQL Server Express - Best for small-scale projects needing comprehensive data management tools

A screenshot of the Reports tab for Microsoft SQL Server Express.
Microsoft SQL Server Express lets you manage your databases at no cost.

Microsoft SQL Server Express is a free edition of SQL Server, a robust and scalable database management system. It provides an advanced set of features for managing relational databases, making it a go-to choice for small-scale projects requiring comprehensive data management tools.

Why I Picked Microsoft SQL Server Express:

I selected Microsoft SQL Server Express for its robust yet free solution that caters to smaller projects and organizations. It stands out due to its comprehensive set of features and ease of use, which makes it an ideal choice for small projects with limited resources. This tool shines in environments where comprehensive data management tools are necessary, but resources are constrained.

Standout features & integrations:

Microsoft SQL Server Express boasts a number of impressive features, such as high performance, advanced security, and robust reporting services. It also supports stored procedures, triggers, functions, and views, enhancing its overall capabilities. As for integrations, it blends smoothly with other Microsoft tools like Azure and Power BI, fostering a cohesive and efficient ecosystem for managing and visualizing data.


Microsoft SQL Server Express is free, making it a cost-effective solution for small projects and organizations.


  • High performance and advanced security for no cost
  • Excellent integration with other Microsoft tools
  • A broad range of features for comprehensive data management


  • Lacks some advanced features available in the paid versions
  • Resource limitations, including a 10GB database size limit
  • May require a learning curve, particularly for those new to SQL Server

11. 4D - Best for rapid application development and deployment in database environment

A screenshot of the dashboard of the tool 4D.
Get a closer look at the dashboard of 4D. Easy access to relevant database information can be found here.

4D is a powerful tool that enables developers to create and deploy applications swiftly within a database environment. Combining a database engine with an integrated development environment (IDE), it expedites the development process, making it an optimal choice for those needing speed in both application development and deployment.

Why I Picked 4D:

I picked 4D because it significantly shortens the application development lifecycle by providing a unified environment for development and database tasks. This unique feature set makes 4D an exceptional tool for rapid application development and deployment. In my view, 4D stands out for providing a rapid, comprehensive solution for application development in a database environment.

Standout features & integrations:

4D boasts a plethora of features, such as robust data modeling, SQL, server synchronization, and a powerful programming language for app development. Furthermore, it allows for easy web-based application development thanks to built-in HTTP and HTTPS servers. As for integrations, 4D easily interfaces with various technologies and platforms, including web services, SQL databases, and more, enabling smooth interoperability.


The pricing for 4D starts at $23/user/month (billed annually). This is the starting cost for their "4D Team Developer Professional" offering.


  • Offers a unified environment for development and database tasks
  • Supports a broad range of technologies and platforms
  • Strong data modeling and server synchronization features


  • Pricing may be steep for small projects or teams
  • The learning curve may be high for new users
  • Limited community and online resources compared to other, more popular tools

12. Omnis - Best for developing web and mobile applications using databases

The desktop view of the interface for the tool Omnis.
Omnis provides database solutions fit for your application's needs.

Omnis is a highly regarded tool in the realm of database-driven application development. It excels in creating web and mobile applications using databases, thus offering a complete solution for enterprises targeting multiple platforms. This makes it especially suitable for those needing a versatile tool for multi-platform application development using databases.

Why I Picked Omnis:

In selecting Omnis, I placed a high value on its ability to streamline the process of developing database-driven applications for web and mobile platforms. In comparison to other tools, Omnis stood out with its comprehensive suite of development features designed specifically for database-driven applications. Hence, I deemed it best for this use case due to its specialized approach to multi-platform development.

Standout features & integrations:

Omnis brings to the table a robust set of features, including a drag-and-drop interface, JavaScript Client technology for creating web and mobile applications, and extensive data access capabilities for connecting to all major databases. The tool integrates seamlessly with SQL, Oracle, and MySQL databases, among others, making it a versatile choice for any database-driven project.


The pricing for Omnis begins at $49/user/month, making it a reasonable investment for businesses of varying sizes.


  • Offers a robust suite of development features for database-driven applications
  • Integrates with all major databases
  • Enables development for multiple platforms


  • The cost could be a barrier for smaller projects or teams
  • May have a steep learning curve for beginners
  • Limited community support compared to other mainstream tools

Other Desktop Database Software Tools

  1. Altova DatabaseSpy - Good for graphical database design and querying
  2. Apache Cassandra - Good for high-volume data handling with no single point of failure
  3. Apache CouchDB - Good for web developers needing native support for JavaScript and JSON
  4. Navicat Premium - Good for managing multiple database connections concurrently
  5. RazorSQL - Good for SQL querying, editing, and database navigation
  6. Alpha Anywhere - Good for rapid mobile application development with data integration
  7. Vertica - Good for large-scale data analytics in real-time
  8. VoltDB - Good for applications requiring ultra-fast data processing
  9. TOAD - Good for automating database management tasks and reducing risk

Selection Criteria

In the process of researching and writing this guide, I tried out numerous database software tools to find the best ones for various use cases. I personally explored the ins and outs of each tool, from core functionality to unique features and usability, and picked out the tools that excelled in these areas.

Core Functionality

Database software should enable you to:

  • Create, read, update, and delete database records
  • Structure and organize data in a meaningful and accessible way
  • Secure your data and control access
  • Scale and perform according to your application's needs

Key Features

The key features to consider are:

  • Querying capabilities: The tool should provide a robust language or interface for querying the data.
  • Indexing: To speed up data retrieval, the software should offer efficient indexing options.
  • Replication: Features that allow your data to be copied and stored in multiple locations for reliability and accessibility.
  • Concurrency control: The tool should be able to handle multiple simultaneous transactions without causing data conflicts.


Here's what I looked for in terms of usability:

  • Intuitive user interface: For database software, a clear, logical interface is important, with readily accessible commands and options.
  • Ease of setup: Tools should be relatively easy to install and set up, with minimal configuration needed to get started.
  • Comprehensive documentation: Because database tools can be complex, having readily accessible, clear, and thorough documentation is key.
  • Quality customer support: A tool is only as good as the support behind it. Look for tools that offer prompt, helpful customer service, especially those that provide multiple channels of support (email, phone, chat).

People Also Ask (FAQs)

What are the benefits of using desktop database software?

Desktop database software provides several advantages, including improved data integrity and security due to local storage, which lessens the chance of breaches. It grants more control over data management as users can manipulate records freely. It also features robust querying for easy data analysis and ensures effective data organization. Moreover, they often include features such as indexing and replication for increased performance and reliability.

How much do these tools cost?

The cost of desktop database software can vary widely, depending on the features, functionalities, and provider. Some tools are available for free, while others may charge a one-time fee or operate on a subscription-based model.

What are the typical pricing models for desktop database software?

Desktop database software typically comes with three main pricing models. Some software is free, especially open-source options. Other tools operate on a subscription basis, charging a recurring fee (usually monthly or annually) for continued use of the software. Finally, some tools have a one-time purchase model where you pay upfront for lifetime access to the software.

What is the typical range of pricing for these tools?

Pricing for desktop database software can range anywhere from free for open-source tools up to several thousand dollars for more advanced, enterprise-level solutions. The exact cost will depend on the specific features and functionalities of the software.

What are some of the cheapest and most expensive software options?

On the cheaper end of the spectrum, tools like SQLite and MySQL are free to use. On the more expensive side, tools like Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Database can cost several thousand dollars due to their advanced features and robust capabilities.

Are there any free tool options available?

Yes, there are free options available for desktop database software. Open-source tools such as SQLite and MySQL are free to use and are popular choices for many users. However, these free options may require more technical knowledge to install, use, and maintain.

What is the difference between desktop database software and online database software?

Desktop database software is installed on your local machine and stores data there, while online database software is hosted on a cloud server and accessed via the Internet. Desktop solutions often provide greater control and security over your data, while online solutions are more accessible and easier to scale.

Are these tools suitable for beginners?

While some database tools require a degree of technical knowledge, many beginner-friendly options are available. Many tools provide intuitive interfaces, extensive documentation, and robust customer support to help beginners navigate the software. Additionally, many options come with visual design and query tools that can simplify complex database tasks.

More Database Software Reviews


Selecting the ideal desktop database software greatly hinges on your specific needs and context. Key factors to consider include the core functionality that aligns with your database management requirements, the usability that ensures a smooth user experience, and critical features like data security, data processing capabilities, and integrations.

Here are three useful key takeaways from this buyer's guide:

  1. Personal Use Case: Understand your specific database needs. Are you looking to manage a large-scale data infrastructure, or do you require a tool for small project management? Assessing your requirements will guide you in pinpointing the software that best meets your needs.
  2. Consider Core Functionality and Key Features: When selecting a desktop database software, ensure that it provides the essential functions you need. This could include rapid data processing, robust data security, high availability, and integrations with other software you use.
  3. User Experience is Crucial: Desktop database software should be easy to use, even for those without extensive database management experience. Look for tools with intuitive interfaces, clear documentation, and responsive customer support.

By paying attention to these considerations, you can make an informed decision when choosing your desktop database software.

What Do You Think?

As the technology landscape continually evolves, there might be other desktop database software that I haven't included in this guide. I welcome suggestions from our readers.

If you use or know of a tool you think should be on this list, please share your insights with me. I’m always eager to update guides with quality recommendations to help readers make the best possible software choices.

By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.