MySQL is just too much/not available/too unflexible? SQLite not available? Why not try jsonDB - a nano-tiny PHP class for using a JSON File as database.
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README

README

jsonDB is a PHP Class that enables you to work on a JSON Textfile containing an relational Array like a NOSQL Database.

The Dataset will always be stored as a plain JSON Textfile which can be edited by any other program or even by hand.