Firebase Databases: Which one you should go with?

Firebase Databases: Which one you should go with?
Firebase Database

Did you know that Firebase has more than one database option? This article will guide you over the two database options available at Firebase and explain the differences between the Real-Time Database and Cloud Firestore.

Here you will get to know about:

  • Available options for Firebase database
  • A comparison between real-time database and Firebase Firestore 

What is Firebase?

Firebase is a NoSQL cloud-based service that is being offered as a part of the offerings of the Google Cloud Platform. Firebase is based on a document model that lets you store or sync data when needed with horizontal scaling.

Key features of Firebase 

Firebase can be used for multi-user applications, for example, serverless applications, offline applications, and mobile applications. Besides standard NoSQL functionality, Firebase also includes features for crash reporting, performance monitoring, analytics, authentication, and messaging.

Firebase can be accessed via API and SDK, with the compatibility for both C++ and Unity. Even more, Firebase can be integrated with a fantastic variety of utilities and services, such as Google Marketing Platform, BigQuery, Data Studio, Kubernetes Deployments, Slack, and Jira, etc.

Firebase Database Options

Do you want to know more about Firebase databases more? Or want to know which of these can work better for you? Let’s look at the information given below to get a better idea about the things in this regard.

Firebase service offers you two different data models and architectures to choose from. These two options are Google Firestore and Real-time database.

In some aspects both database are similar

  • They are NoSQL
  • They handle realtime updates
  • They are scalable
  • They are a proprietary technology from Google

Let’s get to know about each here:

Real-time database 

The Real-time database is based on JSON documents to save key-value pairs. When you are using a real-time database, you have to write application code on a client you are using to handle the client application’s logic. It means you need to duplicate your application code on multiple platforms for your app.

Alternatively, you will have the option to use Cloud Functions for application handling, but this will affect multiple SDK features too. Even more, when you are writing your client application with a real-time database option, then keep in mind the fact that data validation is your responsibility.

Key Features:

  • The real-time database will not limit by data types; therefore, it is up to you to enforce as much typing as needed as per your application’s logic. 
  • The Real-time database is including features such as asynchronous syncing for offline support and synchronization via web sockets. 
  • The SDK of the database can offer support for android, web, and iOS applications. 

Cloud Firestore 

This is a relatively newer database version which is using a document collection to store data. Each document in the collection has the ability to store data fields or subcollections.

Even though data type in the Firestore database, these types can help you manage data integrity and find type-based bugs more quickly than other database options.

Even more, when you are defining your documents, references can be used to avoid denormalization of data by reducing the duplicate copies quantity needed. Also, references can be used to fetch local data copies. 

Key features:

  • Firestore can let you store data in a structure similar to rows and tables, expanding the database’s compatibility. 
  • Cloud Firestore offers typed data that includes objects, numbers, strings, arrays, null values, and Booleans. 
  • It can let you access timestamps, geo points as well as shallow references to your app documents. 

Comparison between real-time database and cloud Firestore database

When choosing one from the two standard Firebase database options, then there are multiple factors to consider. We have compared all the factors below to help you in making the right choice.

However, don’t forget that both databases are available in free-tier, so having a demo of each can also benefit you.

Real-Time DatabaseCloud Firestore
Data model Real-time databases can let you store data as a document tree only. This can make data organization a bit difficult, particularly at scale. Therefore, a real-time database is best to consider for simple data only.However, Cloud Firestore collections are meant to make hierarchical data storage easier. Data collections can let you nest objects. Also, this needless denormalization as compared to a real-time database. Therefore, Firestore can be better for complex data because you can easily store and manage infrastructure as code easily for DevOps deployment.
QueriesIn the real-time database, queries are restricted to one operation at a time. You can either sort or filter in one query but not both. Also, queries are deep and can return you a complete sub-tree. Ultimately, this can make querying slower in real-time databases.Firestore allows index queries that enable you to perform compound sorting and filtering queries. This will let you query for subcollections too. Also, the query is based on a result set that makes querying faster.
Data writing or transactions The Real-time database allows you to perform data writing individually even though transactions are atomic but only in certain sub-trees. While, outside the subtree completion, call-backs have to be configured via SDK.Firestore offers you both writing operations and atomic transactions. Batch operations and transactions are allowed from any part of the database. It means no complicated call-backs are required to repeat transactions automatically until these are successful.
SecurityIn the real-time database, validation and authorization are defined via cascading rules. This limitation needs you to define validation and authorization rules individually. Furthermore, your security provision is restricted to Firebase security rules.In Firestore, you are allowed to use both Firebase security rules and access and identity management via server SDKs. It offers atomic data validation, too, without cascading. However, in this scenario, queries can fail if users do not have access to the entire result data.
Deployment The Real-time database is restricted to a single availability region. This can be best for frequent syncing because of low latency. Sharding implementation is necessary to scale real-time databases.Firestore can be used in multiple regions with atomic scalability globally. You can use it regionally or multi-regionally with data duplicated for availability. 


The Real-time database and Cloud Firestore are two Firebase databases.

The Real-time database is using JSON documents for key-value pairs storage. It can synchronize data through Web sockets and is available for iOS, Android, and web.

Firestore is based on documents collections to store data. Each document is meant to hold a data field. This database can deliver real-time data updates too. 


What database options are available for Firebase?

– Real-time database 
– Cloud firestore.

What are major similarities to consider between Firebase databases?

– They are NoSQL
– They handle realtime updates
– They are scalable
– They are a proprietary technology from Google

What are major differences to consider between Firebase databases?

– Data model 
– Queries 
– Performance and scalability 
– Data writing and transactions 
– Security. 

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