A distributed database is a database that is under the control of a central database management system (DBMS) in which storage devices are not all attached to a common CPU. It may be stored in multiple computers located in the same physical location, or may be dispersed over a network of interconnected computers.
Collections of data (e.g. in a database) can be distributed across multiple physical locations. A distributed database can reside on network servers on the Internet, on corporate intranets or extranets, or on other company networks. The replication and distribution of databases improves database performance at end-user worksites. 
To ensure that the distributive databases are up to date and current, there are two processes: replication and duplication. Replication involves using specialized software that looks for changes in the distributive database. Once the changes have been identified, the replication process makes all the databases look the same. The replication process can be very complex and time consuming depending on the size and number of the distributive databases. This process can also require a lot of time and computer resources. Duplication on the other hand is not as complicated. It basically identifies one database as a master and then duplicates that database. The duplication process is normally done at a set time after hours. This is to ensure that each distributed location has the same data. In the duplication process, changes to the master database only are allowed. This is to ensure that local data will not be overwritten. Both of the processes can keep the data current in all distributive locations.
Besides distributed database replication and fragmentation, there are many other distributed database design technologies. For example, local autonomy, synchronous and asynchronous distributed database technologies. These technologies' implementation can and does depend on the needs of the business and the sensitivity/confidentiality of the data to be stored in the database, and hence the price the business is willing to spend on ensuring data security, consistency and integrity.
A database User accesses the distributed database through:
A distributed database does not share main memory or disks.
Care with a distributed database must be taken to ensure the following:
- The distribution is transparent — users must be able to interact with the system as if it were one logical system. This applies to the system's performance, and methods of access among other things.
- Transactions are transparent — each transaction must maintain database integrity across multiple databases. Transactions must also be divided into subtransactions, each subtransaction affecting one database system.
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