Reasons to go for denormalization

  • Joins are expensive
Normalizing your database often involves creating lots of tables. In fact, you can easily wind up with what might seem like a simple query spanning five or ten tables. If you’ve ever tried doing a five-table join, you know that it works in principle, but its painstakingly slow in practice. If you’re building a web application that relies upon multiple-join queries against large tables, you might find yourself thinking: “If only this database wasn’t normalized!” When you hear that thought in your head, it’s a good time to consider denormalizing. If you can stick all of the data used by that query into a single table without really jeopardizing your data integrity, go for it! Be a rebel and denormalize your database. You won’t look back!
  •  Normalized design is difficult
If you’re working with a complex database schema, you’ll probably find yourself banging your head against the table over the complexity of normalization. As a simple rule of thumb, if you’ve been banging your head against the table for an hour or two trying to figure out how to move to the fourth normal form, you might be taking normalization too far. Step back and ask yourself if it’s really worth continuing.
  • Quick and dirty should be quick and dirty
If you’re just developing a prototype, just do whatever works quickly. Really. It’s OK. Rapid application development is sometimes more important than elegant design. Just remember to go back and take a careful look at your design once you’re ready to move beyond the prototyping phase. The price you pay for a quick and dirty database design is that you might need to throw it away and start over when it’s time to build for production.

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