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PostgreSQL vs MySQL: Which Platform Should You Use?

In 2022, Stack Overflow surveyed over 70,000 respondents to determine the most popular database among professional developers. PostgreSQL and MySQL took the lead positions. According to the results, PostgreSQL is used by 46.48% of the surveyed specialists, followed closely by MySQL, which is used by 45.68% of those surveyed.


It's not surprising that disputes arise among those involved in the IT industry about which database is better. DB Serv experts, who have experience working with PostgreSQL and MySQL, conducted a comparative review. From the article, you will learn about what is PostgreSQL vs MySQL, their features, similarities, and differences, and where it's best to use them. We'll also discuss key factors to help you make the right choice for a database that suits your goals.

What is PostgreSQL? 

PostgreSQL is an open-source object-relational database management system (ORDBMS). It operates on a modified structured query language (SQL) that has some differences from standard SQL. Since PostgreSQL uses technologies typical of object-oriented DBMS, it allows you to create custom data types and work with other databases. 

Open-source code provides easy and fast integration of ORDBMS with virtually any software, including enterprise applications. Additionally, PostgreSQL has high availability and is compatible with ACID (a set of requirements for a transactional system to ensure predictable and stable database operation).

History

In late 1986, American computer scientist Michael Stonebraker initiated a new project to develop a database management system that supported object-oriented programming principles. From 1986 to 1994, Stonebraker worked on the DBMS with his students. The system, initially named Postgres, was first released under the University of California, Berkeley's software license, and later, the freely distributable ORDBMS PostgreSQL was developed based on it.

The digital product was officially released on July 8, 1996. From 1997 to the present, the database management system has seen 28 updates released by the development team and volunteer specialists. The latest version was released in September 2021. 

As we can see, PostgreSQL quickly gained broad support from the IT community, which now offers a wide range of functionalities and usage options. All of this has sparked active debates on PostgreSQL vs. MySQL, as the latter DBMS also has millions of dedicated users worldwide.

Features of PostgreSQL

Among the numerous features of PostgreSQL, we will highlight some of the most in-demand ones that provide high performance and ease of use for businesses.

Reliability

The DBMS supports working with various data types, including various media files, and provides storage for large objects. It also features preemptive journal writing, which increases its fault tolerance and ensures timely backup and recovery. Since PostgreSQL is open-source and supports multiple languages, including Python and JavaScript, it has reliable support from a community of developers. So, when problems arise with the database, you'll have no trouble finding experts ready to provide guidance and help fix issues.

Flexible

Thanks to the open-source code, which both PostgreSQL and MySQL have, you can make necessary changes or use the system for cross-platform projects. For example, it's easy to work with the DBMS on operating systems like Windows, Linux, Solaris, and OS X.

Extensibility 

PostgreSQL features dynamic compilation, allowing you to improve software performance by translating bytecode into machine code on the fly. You can write applications and custom storage structures in other languages and quickly integrate them into your work. Also, data in the DBMS is organized into tables, columns, and rows and is managed by catalogs, providing additional extensibility.

Replication

This is another important feature that makes it possible to copy data from one source to another and vice versa. Synchronous replication in PostgreSQL means the primary node waits for writes until the node from which data is copied stores them in its transaction log. You can set the retention time for these transactions individually for each database, operation, or user. This speeds up the replication process for necessary data without confirmation for each transaction. 

Use Cases

PostgreSQL is a reliable, secure, and scalable database management system. Therefore, it is ideal for large projects. Among the regular users of the DBMS are globally recognized companies such as Apple, Nokia, Etsy, Instagram, Skype, Spotify, Yahoo, Bloomberg, BioPharm, and many others.

What to choose, PostgreSQL or MySQL? Let's first look at the areas where PostgreSQL is successfully applied today: 

   ● Industrial enterprises. 

   ● Governmental geographic information systems. 

   ● Companies developing innovative technologies. 

   ● Scientific projects.

Continuing the discussion on PostgreSQL vs. MySQL, let's move on to familiarize ourselves with the second database. 

What is MySQL?

MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS) known for its simplicity and high efficiency. It is a part of the LAMP software stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP/Python/Perl) designed for web application and website development. 

RDBMS uses a structured query language (SQL) to create high-performance systems for data storage, similar to PostgreSQL. MySQL is open-source, allowing users to make their own modifications, although some parts of this software are provided under proprietary licenses.

History

The first version of MySQL was developed in 1995 by the company MySQL AB, founded by Swedes David Axmark and Allan Larsson and Finnish programmer Michael Widenius, better known as Monty. Alpha and beta versions for corporate and home users were released by the end of 2000. By 2001, the number of installations of this new database management system reached a record 2 million. Its popularity began to grow rapidly, adding tens of thousands of new clients worldwide each year. 
One of the reasons for its widespread adoption was that in the early 2000s, MySQL became open to third-party developers, meaning it was distributed with open-source code. Every user could make their own necessary changes or add features, as well as share their innovations with others. Thus, the community of enthusiasts contributed to the active development and popularization of the product. 
In January 2008, the American company Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL AB. Two years later, in 2010, Oracle Corporation purchased Sun Microsystems along with MySQL. The change of ownership did not affect the improvement and optimization of the RDBMS but did impact its availability to users. Open-source code meant a loss of profit for the new owners of the database. Therefore, the DBMS now has dual licensing: GPL (General Public License) and a commercial license for developers who do not wish to open access to the code of their programs. 
From 1998 to 2010, seven updates were released. In 2020, two more releases were added, which are currently in the development stage. 

Features of MySQL

MySQL is described as a multitasking and multithreaded server, which offers one of the simplest installation processes among databases. Comparing PostgreSQL vs. MySQL, let's look at the key features of MySQL. 

Accessibility

The RDBMS is user-friendly for both experienced specialists and beginners. It includes numerous useful options and utilities that streamline work processes. For example, a graphical interface for management, a client for executing administrative tasks (mysqladmin), crash backup programs, and more. 

Security

MySQL is used to develop Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) systems, making it fully compatible with the ACID requirements. You get automatic state database recording at specified time intervals, allowing you to initiate recovery to the last saved version in case of a failure. All of this minimizes the risk of data loss in unforeseen circumstances. 

Performance

Among MySQL's features is the architecture of its storage engine, which provides high performance without disabling critical functions. The storage engine in this RDBMS is characterized by constant row-level reading and locking, which positively impacts its power when multiple users work simultaneously. 

Scalability

Since the RDBMS offers free programs written in various programming languages, developers can use them to connect their data with MySQL databases. Moreover, MySQL provides APIs for Python, Java, C, C++, Ruby, Perl, Eiffel, and others. You can use the system on various operating systems. All of this makes MySQL a suitable solution for working with almost any software and operating platform, confirming its high scalability. 

Use Cases

MySQL is a reliable, fast, and straightforward solution that is best suited for high-traffic production systems. Well-known companies using this database management system include Google, GitHub, Facebook, NASA, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, Netflix, Uber, and more. 

MySQL is most commonly applied in the following areas: 

  •    ● Web development. 
  •    ● Projects working with the LAMP stack. 
  •    ● E-commerce application development. 
  •    ● Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) systems. 

Having familiarized ourselves with the terminology, history, features, and application areas of the DBMS, let's summarize the PostgreSQL vs. MySQL competition.

Comparative Analysis: PostgreSQL vs MySQL

A detailed examination of the MySQL vs. PostgreSQL topic reveals both similarities and distinctive features of these two DBMSs. 

PostgreSQL

  • Performance and Speed: Both are characterized as the fastest DBMS options in the market and exhibit nearly identical performance 
  • Scalability Capabilities: High level of scalability
  • Database Structure: Presented as tables and indexes organized into logical groups
  • Clustering and Replication: Support clustering and replication
  • Assistance and Advancement: Both have a broad community that supports users, works on improvements, and adds new features
  • Database Connectivity and Compatibility: Support multiple APIs and are compatible with popular operating systems
  • Security: Have nearly identical security levels
  • Languages Supported: C C++ Delphi Erlang Go Java Javascript JSON (from version 9.2 and above) Lisp .NET Python R Tcl


MySQL

  • Performance and Speed: Both are characterized as the fastest DBMS options in the market and exhibit nearly identical performance
  • Scalability Capabilities: Moderate level of scalability
  • Database Structure: Contains tables that store all necessary information
  • Clustering and Replication: Support clustering and replication
  • Assistance and Advancement: Both have a broad community that supports users, works on improvements, and adds new features
  • Database Connectivity and Compatibility: Support multiple APIs and are compatible with popular operating systems
  • Security: Have nearly identical security levels
  • Languages Supported: CC++DelphiErlangGoJavaLispNode.jsPerlPHPR

8 Key Factors Influencing the Choice: PostgreSQL vs MySQL

Having examined the table, you now know the differences and similarities between both database management systems. To better understand how they function and which one to choose for your project, let's take a closer look at the key characteristics of PostgreSQL and MySQL. 


1. Performance and Speed

Performance-wise, PostgreSQL used to lag slightly behind MySQL, which was known for its high data read speeds, while PostgreSQL excelled in writing large volumes of data. However, with updates, the performance of both systems has become almost identical. 

When it comes to speed, there is a minor difference:

  •    ● MySQL facilitates the simultaneous use of the same data for two different transactions (parallelism), speeding up commands for read-only operations. 
  •    ● PostgreSQL is faster in read-write operations, processing complex queries, and handling large data volumes. 


2. Scalability Capabilities

In the context of the PostgreSQL vs. MySQL debate, PostgreSQL is the winner when it comes to scalability. It supports more operating systems and programming languages, making it an ideal choice for developing various types of software. However, MySQL offers higher stability and flexibility, ensuring effective web application development.


3. Database Structure

MySQL stores data in tables and supports the JSON text format, which is human-readable. PostgreSQL uses XML markup language and the hstore module for storing key-value pairs, handling various data types, including images and videos.


4. Clustering and Replication

Although both database management systems support clustering and replication, they do it differently: 

  •    ● In MySQL, replication is one-way and asynchronous. 
  •    ● In PostgreSQL, replication is synchronous and cascading. 


In both cases, clustering provides shared storage to duplicate identical data sets for each node in the database. Therefore, the level of redundancy in PostgreSQL and MySQL is sufficiently high, ensuring data protection in case of failures. 


5. Assistance and Advancement

Both databases benefit from large communities that provide support and technical guidance for solving various issues. Since both MySQL and PostgreSQL are open-source, you can modify them to suit your needs.

If you lack the technical skills to work with databases and need external support, you can visit forums and specialized websites where developer enthusiasts gather. Seeking their help will give you valuable advice or help you find the right specialist to address your database issues. Such resources often discuss the features, new functions, usage scenarios, and more related to both MySQL and PostgreSQL. 

However, there is a slight difference in terms of support systems: 

  •    ● MySQL is currently owned by Oracle, which offers users paid technical support 24/7, significantly speeding up issue resolution. 
  •    ● PostgreSQL, on the other hand, does not have paid plans from the creator company. You can get advice for free on forums, but you may need to spend a bit more time to find the right recommendations. 


6. Database Connectivity and Compatibility 

When choosing between PostgreSQL and MySQL, it's essential to know that both are compatible with various operating systems and applications in different programming languages. However, there are some differences:

   ● PostgreSQL supports a wide range of API connections and is compatible with Windows, Linux, Solaris, and OS X.

  •    ● MySQL operates on Linux, Windows, Solaris and provides APIs for Python, Java, C, C++, Ruby, Perl, Eiffel, and others. 

7. Security

Both systems use Privileged Access Management (PAM) for user authentication. MySQL, in addition, has its own native Windows services and employs the LDAP protocol for client identity verification. PostgreSQL additionally authenticates its client users based on IP using Kerberos.


8. Languages Supported

PostgreSQL supports a slightly broader spectrum of programming languages compared to MySQL. Nevertheless, both systems are widely used by developers as server-side components for applications written in popular languages like C/C++, Java, Delphi, Erlang, Go, Lisp, and more.


PostgreSQL vs. MySQL: Making the Right Choice

PostgreSQL and MySQL are reliable and high-performance systems widely used by professionals for developing various web applications. Both guarantee stable operations, data storage, and management. However, if you're unsure which one is better for your project, PostgreSQL or MySQL, consider the following characteristics. 

PostgreSQL is a multifunctional and relatively complex system that may be challenging for non-specialists to master. However, it is the best choice for projects that require:

  •    ● Storing large volumes of information.
  •    ● Processing complex queries.
  •    ● High scalability.
  •    ● Working with unstructured data.

MySQL is user-friendly and offers a wide range of features and utilities. This system is suitable when you need:

  •    ● Tools for working with structured data.
  •    ● Read-only operations. 
  •    ● Flexible data storage mechanisms.
  •    ● Easy server configuration and optimization.

As you can see, each of these systems is designed to address different tasks. Therefore, your choice should be based on your project's goals and requirements.

Conclusion

We've examined the PostgreSQL vs. MySQL showdown, uncovered their key features, and conducted a comparative analysis. Both systems have both similarities and differences. Each excels in its niche and is suited for specific tasks, making it challenging to declare a clear winner. 

Both database management systems are actively used for data storage and analysis. They serve as server-side components, ensuring high performance and secure operation for many public and private applications. PostgreSQL is well-suited for working with extensive amounts of unstructured information, while MySQL is ideal for high-speed read operations and structured data processing. 

If you're still wondering which DBMS is necessary for your project, consider seeking expert consultation from DB Serv to find an effective solution for achieving your goals!


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