A network database is a type of database model wherein multiple member records or files can be linked to multiple owner files and vice versa. The model can be viewed as an upside-down tree where each member information is the branch linked to the owner, which is the bottom of the tree. Essentially, relationships are in a net-like form where a single element can point to multiple data elements and can itself be pointed to by multiple data elements.
The network database model allows each record to have multiple parent and multiple child records, which, when visualized, form a web-like structure of networked records. In contrast, a hierarchical model data member can only have a single parent record but can have many child records.
This property of having multiple links applies in two ways: the schema and the database itself can be seen as a generalized graph of record types that are connected by relationship types. The main advantage of a network database is that it allows for a more natural modeling of relationships between records or entities, as opposed to the hierarchical model. However, the relational database model has started to win over both the network and the hierarchical models because its added flexibility and productivity has become more evident as hardware technology has become faster.