Lab database/manager

We are looking into a database system that helps collecting (box system) and storing (digital) information about all our strains, oligos and plasmids (same system for all). We want the system to be intuitive (easy to learn), and reliable and searchable. We want each data map/card to be very detailed in information that people can add (barcodes not needed). Does anyone have recommendations of a commercial system?


Posted on 29-Jan-2013 9:17 CET
Gro Bjerga

Hi Gro,

We demo-ed the system that Sabine is using that a company called Biolink wrote for them.  It is a searchable database for plasmids and it seems really nice.  We did not buy it because our budget is very tight at the moment, but if I had the money I would have bought it.   You can contact the company Biolink and maybe Sabine can give you more details.  (I am not sure if the program is shown on their website or not).





Posted on 05-Feb-2013 8:46 CET
Peggy Stolt-Bergner

Hi Gro,

we have had a look at Labcollector (the one that Linda is using) and it seemed to have a decent sample management module. We are still hesitating to purchase it because its protein production and tracking module is still not very useful but the other modules including the ELN are quite OK. I hope that helps.

Best regards


Posted on 13-Feb-2013 10:58 CET
Hüseyin Besir

Hi Gro,

I was wondering if you had looked at some of the free (*) online lab database management systems such as: (originally Addgene Labs) (If you want the history of this one:

Both sites allow you to create inventories of your chemicals, strains, vectors... and you can upload an existing Excel list simply.
Their systems work very well with company names and catalog numbers to fill in quickly the details about the products you entered. While they tend to have your inventory linked to an order/shopping list (mostly US minded with $ prices), you are not forced to place any order through their system.
For your inventory of plasmids, Lablife has a large vector database that allows you to retrieve sequences and maps almost automatically. It also offers cloning tools to create your own maps.
I think they also have a box system.
Since it is an online application, you don't need to install a program and you can access it from anywhere. You can also share your inventory/lab protocols with other people in your lab.

The best way to get an idea is to watch their introductory videos and see quickly if this is what you are looking for.

Best wishes,


(*) Free for non-profit research institution 




Posted on 15-Feb-2013 13:51 CET
Patrick Duriez

Thanks to Peggy, Hüseyin and Patrick for sharing useful tips. I've checked out all systems you've mentioned. The drawback of commercial programmes are the licences (though you can often by full licence programmes, but that costs more), also that they are not always available for all computers (the regular PC/Mac compatibility problem).

I'm surprised how useful Lablife it. I never used it so extensively, not for more than plasmid sequences. It suits our requirements very well, since it works for both plasmids/vectors, strains (bacteria), oligos and enzymes - all in one system. And I find it very practical that it is web-based. I'm also very happy it has a nice box storage system. It seems also very practical for sharing protocols and data. AND; it has a shopping list that may come in handy for our order personell. I'm testing this right now, and I've shared "a lab" with a handful of inventories with some colleagues. 

The only drawback I find is the data export. Nice that is actually do export files of plasmid, but the export file was not very well organised (looks very "raw"). I guess we can live with that, though.

Thanks for your help!

Posted on 28-Feb-2013 12:51 CET
Gro Bjerga

Hi Gro,
Thanks for reply. I will say that even though LabLife and Quartzy are very similar Quartzy seems "prettier" and more user friendly and it is maybe what you are looking for. I am more inclined to use Lablife because of its plasmid tools.

If you want to try Quartzy without re-doing all the work you have done in LabLife so far, you can easily transfer your data from LabLife ("Export data" will create a Excel file) to Quartzy (Inventory > Add Item > Upload Excel file).

Quartzy has many videos to show you how to do something( Check for instance the video on "Managing Locations (and Freezer Boxes) on Quartzy" to see the user friendly approach and the output.


Posted on 05-Mar-2013 19:31 CET
Patrick Duriez

Just to let you know - we went with LabLife. So far just for information sharing, and we hope to extent this to a common storage stock system. Quartzy was also ok, but we recognized that many lab users already had experience with LabLife, so that ended up being most useful to us.

Thanks to all for contributions, and I hope this tread may be of value for other lab managers, too.


Posted on 08-Apr-2013 16:01 CEST
Gro Bjerga

We are also looking for a good system to use to keep track of plasmids and proteins. I have looked into LabLife a bit, but it seems to have changed name to LabGuru? Do you know if this is the same system or am I looking at the wrong system?

Do you work with cell lines at all? I wonder how good this system would be to keep track of different transfected cell lines? Do you know?

Also, I wonder what you think about the system now when you have used it for some time? It would be nice to hear what you think now when you have learnt more about the system!



Posted on 12-Jul-2013 14:45 CEST
Malin Bäckström

Hi Malin,

I did not realized that LabLife is somehow replaced by Labguru and it is going to cost something for the lab users (not for personal use).
I found a description of the differences between the 2 sites: It seems that Lablife in not getting updates and upgrades while Labguru is.

I will suggest to give a try to Quartzy which is free and very close to Lablife / Labguru. You can watch videos before trying to see if it is what you are looking for ( 


Posted on 16-Jul-2013 20:09 CEST
Patrick Duriez
Hi all, we have tried basically all web/software to organize our lab. Last year we tried Straincontrol. This software works perfect for us. You can edit every text or caption to rename fields to whatever you want. Then a good thing is that the data is stored locally and not on some server abroad, i.e never down or webrowser issus. Homepage: All the best, Mike
Posted on 24-Jun-2014 22:31 CEST
mike ericsson