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Databases act as a central information repository that authorized programs or Web services can access, add to, or modify. Professionals called database administrators are in charge of setting up and maintaining these specialized software servers. Database administrator tools are specialized programs that allow them to access, modify, and update database software and configurations.
In the world of computer programming, a server is a program whose purpose is to provide information to other pieces of software called clients. A server can run on its own machine, which clients access through the Internet or a local network. A server can also run as a background program on the same machine as its client programs. Database software runs as a server that listens on a specific port for incoming connections from client programs that want to access information it holds.
The database administrator tools that professionals use to maintain running databases are separate programs and not part of the database software itself. Database administrators use these tools to issue commands to which a particular piece of database software is programmed, to recognize and respond with a corresponding action. Although the exact syntax for these commands varies between different database software, actions that can be performed using them include:
These utility programs can have full graphical user interfaces or be text-based terminal programs. Database administrator tools that use a text-based interface require the user to type out the full syntax for every maintenance command. Programs that have a full graphical interface allow users to set up commands by clicking buttons and selecting different options, then they translate the action into the necessary syntax for a command to the database.
Database administrator tools also include software that allows for remotely logging into a computer and executing system commands. These are necessary for when the administrator has to update database software that runs on a machine with no computer monitor or graphical interface. In order for an administrator to be able apply an update, he or she has to stop the database server, which is like quitting a running application. Remote login software allows a database administrator to access the computer on which the database is running to stop the database server, update the software, and then restart the database software.