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  • The Case for No Database Content Management Systems
Technology Articles > Software > Web Development > The Case for No Database Content Management Systems

Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, PHPNuke--the list of MySQL database driven content management systems goes on and on. The pervasiveness of platforms like Drupal and Wordpress among professional--and often evangelical--web developers has convinced many novice users to assume that these are the only options, or at least the best options. But depending on your needs, saying “no” to databases may actually be in your favor.

CMS without databases include LightNEasy, Pivot, Simplicity and RazorCMS. Rather than storing posts, pages and other content information in a database, these CMS platforms store the data as text files on the web server. There are some clear benefits to this approach.

Not Everyone is a Blogger

Wordpress is a blogging platform. Drupal and Joomla are developer frameworks. So, what if all you need is a company website that shows your store hours, contact information and perhaps a little bit about your business? Using a robust blogging platform or developer framework for this five page setup is majorly overkill. It’d be like driving a tank to the supermarket--bulky, inefficient and you’ll have a heck of time finding a parking spot. For infrequently, generally static websites, a database isn’t necessary.

Database Queries Slow Down Page Loads

The problem with storing content in a database is that you have to fetch it. This requires a series of commands and exchanges in itself, separate from the typical HTTP requests. This is a server side process, so to the user, it just looks like the page is taking longer to load when the page is waiting on a response from a database query. And the more queries you make, the longer it will take. For example, if you have a Drupal site that shows blog content but also has navigation widgets, comment widgets, tag clouds, slideshows and header information, that could easily be six or seven database queries right there. Settle in--this could take awhile.

Server-side Scripts Slow Down Page Loads

The exact same thing can be said about PHP and ASP scripts. Depending on the server load and the efficiency of the code, your dynamic server side scripts could fatten the load times for your pages. HTML and Javascript, on the other hand, happen browser side. So if there are delays, it’s going to be the end user’s issue.

Storage and Bandwidth

Database CMS platforms have more moving parts, which means more megabytes getting stored on your web server and transferred for each request. If you have a high traffic website where bandwidth matters, you want to go with something more lightweight.


Here are some good questions for you: does your web host have MySQL installed? Do you know how to create a MySQL database? Do you know how to create a MySQL database user? Do you know to grant that MySQL database user the permissions it needs to maintain your blog or website? Do you even know what a MySQL database is?

If you answered no to any of those questions, a non-database CMS may be right for you. Granted, many CMS platforms have automated scripts for installation. But much of it depends on your web host.


There are simpler solutions than the weighty CMSs that dominate much of the discussion. Try some of the aforementioned simple CMS platforms for your next basic website.