Firebase Databases: Firestore or Real Time Database?

Firebase is an integral component of the GCP – Google Cloud Platform that offers NoSQL databases, among other cloud services. The databases use the document archetype and can synchronize data in realtime and scale horizontally. Firebase is useful for creating multi-user apps, serverless apps, offline apps, and lots more. 

The features of Firebase are not restricted to the NoSQL database.  Other services on the platform include messaging, crash reporting, authentication, monitoring, analytics, and much more. Firebase supports C++, Unity and, it allows developers to leverage APIs and SDKs for app development. The platform integrates seamlessly with other services and tools such as containers deployments, ML, BigQuery, Slack, JIRA, and Data Studio.

What are Firebase’s DB Options?

Users of Firebase can choose either Realtime Database or Cloud Firestore for their app project. These are the two data models available on Firebase.  Let’s take a look at these platforms one after the other.

Cloud Firestore

This database is more recent and stores data in collections that can contain data fields or subcollections. The data structure is similar to rows and tables in spreadsheet documents. 

Cloud Firestore offers typed data such as objects, booleans, arrays, strings, numbers, and null values. This feature allows the developers to control data integrity and detect type-based bugs easily. 

The database allows the developer to use references to reduce the need for duplicate copies, thereby preventing data denormalization. Although it is not possible to query collections, references can be used to fetch local data copies.

RTDB – Realtime Database

RTDB stores key-value pairs as JSON documents. Features of the database include data synchronization through web sockets and offline support through asynchronous syncing. Users have access to database SDK that supports development on iOS, Android, and the Web.

With the Realtime Database backend, developers write codes client side and use the client application for logic operations. In essence, the developer must write another code for the same app on another platform. Cloud Firestore Functions is also useful for handling requests, but the drawback is its limited SDK features. 

It is also essential to note that the developer that writes the client logic is accountable for data validation. Moreover, the database does not offer data type restrictions; the developer must enforce rules through the application logic.

Cloud Firestore vs. RTDB: Which is the Best?

Remember that the two databases offer a free plan, so you can try them out at no cost. The following are essential factors you must consider while choosing a Firebase database for your app development project. 

Complex Queries

Realtime database handles queries one by one. In essence, you can choose to sort or filter, but cannot perform both actions with a single operation.  The database performs in-depth queries by default and returns the entire subtree. Such actions make query responses relatively sluggish.

With Cloud Firestore, the developer can make indexed queries that have compound sorting and filtering. With these capabilities, subcollections can be queried without hassles.  This precision in querying gives Cloud Firestore better performance. 

Data Modeling Structure

Realtime Database can only store information as a document tree, making the procedure for organizing data complicated. That is why RTDB is more efficient for simple applications.

On the contrary, the collection structure of Firestore enables it to store data more efficiently. For instance, a developer can store nested objects and would not depend heavily on denormalization like the Realtime Database. All these features make Cloud Firestore an excellent database when working with complex data. 

Writing the Data or Transactions

Realtime Database allows developers to perform write operations separately.  While the data transactions are atomic, it can only be in specific subtrees.  Transactions outside the subtree will require the use of SDKs to set configuration callbacks.

Developers using Cloud Firestore can leverage the power of both write operations and atomic transactions. It is also possible to perform batch transactions and operations from any section of the database. In essence, complete callbacks are no longer required because the transaction repeats automatically until it succeeds.

Single Region vs. Multi Region

The availability of the Realtime Database is deployed to a single region.  The benefit is low latency, which is excellent for apps that need frequent state syncronizing.  Sharding is required to scale the Realtime Database. 

Cloud Firestore supports multi-region, enabling developers to scale globally.  Firebase also allows you to select between regional and multi-regional database operations. For a multi-region database operation, the data is replicated automatically to enhance availability.


Both databases price also differs—Cloud Firestore charges by the amount of data stored, number of operations, and data egress. RTBD limits the total connections and costs by the downloads and stored data.

Security Issues

Realtime Database uses cascading rules to implement database authorization and validation. As such, it is necessary to settle rules, validation, and permission separately. Moreover, the security provisioning is restricted to the Firebase Security rules that the developer creates.

In addition to Firebase Security rules, Cloud Firestore can leverage SDKs to implement Identity and Access Management. Firestore also implements data validation without cascading automatically. However, the developer can choose to implement cascading manually.

Is there alternatives to Firebase databases?

Some options to the Realtime Database or Cloud Firestore are:

  • Back4app
  • AWS Amplify
  • Backendles
  • Kinvey


RTDB and Cloud Store are the two databases in Firebase.  

The Realtime Database brings value to developers on Web, Android, and iOS apps. It stores key-value pairs with JSON and uses WebSockets to synchronize data.

On the other hand, Cloud Firestore stores documents as collections that can contain subcollections. It also works excellently in delivering realtime database responses. 


What are Firebase’s database options?

– RTDB – Realtime Database
– Cloud Firestore

What are the differences?

– Multiregion deployment
– Complex queries
– Data modeling
– Pricing

What are the similarities

– Scalable
– Performative

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