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What Is a Recordset?

By T.S. Adams
Updated May 17, 2024
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A recordset is a structure used in a database to contain a group of records. These records can be the contents of an individual table or the result of a query. Without the ability to generate and display a recordset, a database would be nothing more than a repository to contains — but not produce — data.

A recordset is a blank table that is fully customizable, with infinite rows and infinite columns. When the end-user requests information from the database, the database collects the desired information, inserting it into the recordset. Following this, the computer pares the recordset down to the returned number of values, the number of results produced by the query. It then displays the recordset information onscreen, allowing the end-user access to the requested data.

Recordsets include whatever information a computer's database is returning, no matter how small, large, tailored, or imprecise. If the end-user requests all information from an employee records database, that result will come in the form of a recordset. Likewise, if the end-user requests something limited, such as the birthdates of all employees named Ted, that information will also come in recordsets. In this sense, recordset is nothing more than a generic term used to refer to the result of a particular search.

Once generated, recordsets only refer to one individual record within the database as the "current record." This means that once it collects its data, recordsets ostensibly ignore the rest of the database. They exist by themselves as separate entities hosting the desired information, while the rest of the database records and files remain intact and untouched. As a result, modifying the information stored in recordsets will not affect the corresponding information contained in the actual database tables.

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