Cloud database software makes it easy for anyone to create and deploy relational database-driven apps that help your small business manage and share data. We looked at the most popular options and rising stars and decided to review Airtable, Knack, and Zoho Creator. These companies covered the range of options for small businesses in terms of ease of use, features, and price.
Best Cloud Database Software for Small Businesses: Airtable
We recommend Airtable as the best cloud database software for small businesses because of its ease of use, user interface, comprehensive features, and affordable price.
Airtable vs Knack vs Zoho Creator Summary Table
|Best For||Best overall cloud database software for small businesses||Best cloud database software for four or more users||Best cloud database software alternative|
Pricing as Reviewed Learn More
|$12/month per user||$39/month for unlimited users|
$15/month per user
|Free Plan||Yes, with limited features||No, but free trial||Yes, with limited features|
|Ease of Setup/UseLearn More||Easy||Easy||Easy|
|Primary FeaturesLearn More||Unlimited databases5,000 records/base with no total limit5GB storage/base||Unlimited databases5,000 records/base with no total limit5GB storage/base||50 apps or databases25,000 total records2GB storage/user|
Integrations Learn More
|Customer SupportLearn More||Online knowledge base and email support||Online knowledge base, email, and chat support||Online knowledge base, and phone and email support available 24x5|
Best Cloud Database Software for Small Businesses: Airtable
We recommend Airtable as the best cloud database software for small businesses because it delivers the best combination of features and price with the easiest to use interface.
Little separates Airtable from Knack or Zoho Creator feature-wise. They all perform similar functions, and they all perform them very well. Creating databases, something that used to be quite complicated and specialized, is easy and accessible to all. And once your database is created, you can deploy an app so that users can add and edit data from anywhere.
The primary differences are in what each software includes for the price and the usability and friendliness of their interfaces. Airtable includes an unlimited number of bases compared to only three with Knack and 50 with Zoho Creator. As well, Airtable allows up to 5,000 records per base with no total limit versus 20,000 total for Knack and 25,000 total for Zoho Creator. Finally, Airtable includes 5GB of storage per base compared to 2GB for Knack and 1GB for Zoho Creator. All of these taken together make Airtable the most flexible software in terms of how many bases you can create and how much data they can include.
Like Knack and Zoho Creator, Airtable is dead-simple to use. After creating your account, you’re immediately presented with few brief introductory slides that conclude with you selecting three types of bases that might resemble ones you’d like to create yourself.
After selecting the three, your dashboard appears. The icon-based interface is extremely clean and easy to navigate and is our favourite of the three software. Bases are displayed at the top, teams follow, and then links to relevant learning resources below.
The three example bases you selected during setup are displayed at the top. You can click on each one to view sample data and layout, choosing to edit the template to suit your needs or use it along with the links to further learning resources in the bottom-right. Of course, you can also delete these examples and start building your own base from scratch. Regardless of whether you use a template or build your own, the spreadsheet-like layout is extremely easy to work with.
Finally, at $12/month per user, Airtable is priced lower than Zoho Creator at $15/month per user. However, at $39/month for unlimited users, Knack is the most affordable software of the three if your business will have four or more users.
Best Cloud Database Software for Four or More Users: Knack
We recommend Knack as the best cloud database software for four or more users because it offers very comparable features to Airtable, but includes unlimited users for the monthly price.
At $12/month per user for Airtable and $15/month per user for Zoho Creator, both options are more affordable than Knack — but only if your business has three or less users. At $39/month for unlimited users, Knack becomes the most affordable software of the three we reviewed if you have four or more users.
However, you do lose some flexibility with the lower price. Knack limits you to three databases, 20,000 total records, and 2GB of storage per database. This is less than Airtable’s unlimited databases, 5,000 records per database, and 5GB storage and Zoho Creator’s 50 databases and 25,000 total records.
Best Cloud Database Software Alternative: Zoho Creator
We recommend Zoho Creator as the best cloud database software alternative. While Airtable and Knack are our preferred recommendations, Zoho Creator is an excellent alternative that performs all of the basic functions for a competitive price.
Airtable’s user interface is the most modern and easiest to use of the three software we reviewed, but one area where Zoho Creator stands out is in the initial setup process. Where Airtable and Knack both offer links to learning resources that are relevant to the screen you’re viewing, Zoho Creator goes a step further. It displays a translucent overlay that calls out various features, prompts you to enter data correctly, and visually explains each step in the database creation process. We found this to be extremely helpful.
Zoho Creator also integrates seamlessly with other Zoho products, such as Zoho Books, Zoho CRM, and Zoho Reports as well as other third-party apps like the Google suite, QuickBooks, Salesforce, and Twilio.
However, Zoho Creator falls short of both Airtable and Knack in pricing and what it includes. At $15/month per user, Zoho Creator is more expensive than Airtable at $12/month per user and will only be more affordable than Knack at $39/month for unlimited users if your business has three users or less. The 50 databases, 25,000 records, and 1GB of storage per user that Zoho includes are more than Knack at three, 20,000, and 2GB but less than Airtable at unlimited, 5,000 per database, and 5GB, respectively.
In-Depth Review: Airtable vs Knack vs Zoho Creator
Most cloud database software is subscription-based, either priced monthly per user or a flat fee for unlimited users. Airtable, Knack, and Zoho Creator have different subscription levels, varying in their features and price. To be as consistent as possible, we compared the most similarly featured levels for each software based on a small business’ typical needs.
Ease of Setup/Use
The primary benefit of cloud database software is to make it quick and easy for your business to store and manage data, replacing spreadsheets with more functional databases. Therefore, the easier the software is to use, the more of a benefit it will be to your business and the more likely you are to make full use of its features.
Airtable, Knack, and Zoho Creator are all extremely easy to use, clearly laid out, and the drag-and-drop interface is intuitive. Where they differ is in the assistance they provide during the setup process to help educate users on the software as quickly as possible.
During the signup process, Airtable prompts users to select three or more example databases from a list of prebuilt templates that they think may represent their needs. Then, once the account has been created, these example databases and their sample data serve as the basis for tutorials on how to use the software and its features. Users can then edit the templates to suit their needs, or build their own database from scratch.
Airtable, Knack, and Zoho Creator all have clean and clear user interfaces, but we especially liked Airtable’s icon-based one for its simplicity.
As well, a learning and resources guide with links to sections of Airtable’s comprehensive online knowledge base are always accessible at the bottom of the user dashboard.
Similar to Airtable, Knack also delivers immediate assistance on signup. Once your account has been confirmed, Knack presents a six-minute video that gives a high-level overview of the software, its feature, and how best to take advantage of them.
Knack goes above and beyond Airtable and Zoho Creator with an additional feature, though. All new users are offered a free hour of one-on-one assistance with a Knack support representative to help introduce them to the software and how to leverage it for your business’ specific needs.
Like Airtable and Knack, Zoho Creator also delivers introductory support immediately on signup. As you begin to navigate the software, it displays a translucent overlay that identifies and highlights specific features as well as prompts you to enter sample data to walk you through how to setup your first database. For anyone who learns best by doing, this is a very useful and well-executed feature.
Airtable, Knack, and Zoho Creator adhere to the adage of doing one thing and doing it well. All three products enable you to build database-driven apps that help you to store, manage, and relate large amounts of data.
All three software deliver easy to use drag-and-drop interfaces that help you to build your database intuitively and with minimal technical knowledge. All three software offer the ability for multiple users to collaborate on the same database, as well as define workflow actions that trigger notifications. And all three software allow for third-party app integrations and have an open API to allow you to extend and customize it to your business’ needs.