A datastore is a generic term for a system which stores data. The term datastore includes RDBMS systems, NoSQL systems, memory based systems, flat files, spreadsheets to name just some examples. A given datastore may provide a rich toolset for storing and retrieving data (RDBMS), or it may provide no tools (flat files).

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The datastore is often the most important part of an application. Code can be changed easily, and new code can be deployed without much fuss if you discover that some of your original choices were wrong, but the data model and the way it is handled is much harder to change. This means that you need to give the data model as much thought as you can when starting out, and the choice of datastore greatly influences that decision.