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What are the differences between SQL and MySQL

by Abraham
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sql vs mysql

Due to many organizations, businesses, companies, and firms making an online presence, databases have become the core requirement for their daily operations. A database in a layman’s language is defined as a collection of data stored and organized electronically to ensure easy retrieval, access, management, and manipulation of business data.

Most business successes depend on databases since they aid in storing essential and relevant data in a central position. Besides, databases also help facilitate communication of crucial business info such as employee profiles, sales transactions, customer profiles, marketing campaigns, product inventory, etc. Furthermore, databases have ensured that the company’s data is secure through various authentication mechanisms like access specifiers, user logins, and sign-ups.

This article will talk about the difference between the two popular relational databases SQL and MySQL. First, let us acquaint ourselves with terms such as relational databases.

What is a relational database?

A relational database is a database-type that stores a collection of data that contains pre-defined relationships. This database type emulates the relational model, representing data in tables, columns, and rows. Each column within a table in a relational database contains specific data plus a field that stores the actual value of an attribute. On the other hand, the rows within a table collect a particular object’s corresponding values. In addition, each row contains a unique identifier referred to as a primary key.

A primary key enables one to access stored data without reorganizing tables. Relational databases tend to follow integrity rules which ensures data stored in tables remain accessible and accurate. Integrity rules specify that duplicates are not allowed in tables, thus ensuring accuracy and accessibility are maintained.

This is important in databases as it helps prevent rows containing the same data, thus eliminating all errors in the table. SQL and MySQL are the two most common terms used in enterprise data management. While the two might sound like very close relatives, they are innately different. If you intend on working with big data, relational databases, business analytics, and relational databases, you have to be familiar with the difference between SQL and MySQL.


What is SQL?

SQL is an abbreviation of Structured Query language. It is the standard language used to manage, operate and access databases. A user can decide to make minor changes to the syntax by adding, retrieving, deleting, and accessing data in different databases. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) maintains that SQL is the standard language used in managing relational database management systems (RDBMS) such as MySQL. Microsoft SQL Server is hosted, owned and maintained, and offered by Microsoft. SQL is used to write programs that are used to make modifications to a database. Besides, it can be used to create and modify database schemas. However, the primary advantage of SQL is that a single command can be used to access multiple records in a database.

What is MySQL?

MySQL was developed in 1995 by MySQL AB. However, they sold the ownership to Oracle Corporation who is the current owner of MySQL. MySQL is an open-source, free RDBMS (relational database management system that uses SQL commands to execute various operations and functions in a database. MySQL was programmed using the C++ and C programming languages.

Therefore, it is compatible with most platforms such as Mac OS, Windows, Unix-based, and Linux operating systems. MySQL is also a core element of the open-source technology LAMP stack (Apache, PHP, Linux & MySQL). MySQL is widely known for offering multi-user access to databases. Both SQL and MySQL offer two differential and trendy servers, the SQL server and the MySQL server, all used for database management.

Differences between Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL

Before looking at the core differences between SQL and MySQL, let’s understand the difference between Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL.

1. Developers

Microsoft SQL Server was developed by the Microsoft corporation known as Microsoft SQL Server (MS SQL), Whereas MySQL was developed by MySQL AB and later acquired by their current owners, Oracle corporation. MySQL is a combo of two acronyms, “MY” and “SQL.” My is the co-founders’ daughter’s name, while SQL is an abbreviation for the Structured Query Language.

2. Storage Engine

When performing different operations, MYSQL does not require much storage since it supports multiple storage engines. Besides, MySQL supports storage engines plug-ins. However, this is not the case with the Microsoft SQL Server since it only helps a single storage engine. Developers should diversify and stay updated with the latest and more improved engines.

3. Platform’s support

Initially, the Microsoft SQL Server was developed for the Windows operating system. However, it is now supported by mac OS (Via docker) and Linux due to improvements though it might lack some features. MySQL is supported by all the major platforms such as macOS, Windows, Solaris, Unix-based, and Linux.

4. Security offered

Microsoft SQL Server provides high security. The server does not allow file access or manipulation through its binaries or other processors during the execution period. MySQL is less sure since it allows file access and manipulation through its binary and other processors during the execution period.

5. Editions

Microsoft SQL Server is available in various specialized editions like the web, standard, express, and enterprise editions. On the other hand, MySQL is only available in two editions: the MySQL Enterprise Server and the MYSQL Community Server.

6. Syntax

The Microsoft SQL Server syntax is straightforward hence can be easily used compared to MYSQL syntax that is a bit typical and complex to use and implement.


To check or rather implement the length function, the following queries will be used respectively:

Microsoft SQL Server: SELECT LEN(req_string) FROM <table_name>
MySQL: SELECT CHARACTER_LENGTH(req_string) FROM <table_name>

7. Software stack component

The enterprise can choose various editions of Microsoft SQL Server depending on the users’ requirements and preferences for the ongoing project. On the contrary, MySQL is used by multiple web app developers as a LAMP stack component

8. Time consumption in restoring data

As compared to Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL consumes lots of time while restoring data since it executes multiple SQL statements simultaneously. Therefore, we recommend using Microsoft SQL Server to quickly restore data since it uses less time to restore large tracts of data.

9. Backup

A developer needs to extract backup data as SQL statements. During the backup process, the server blocks the DB, thus reducing the chances of data corruption while switching from different MySQL versions. On the contrary, the Microsoft SQL Server does not block the DB while backing up data. This, therefore, implies that during the backup process, a developer has the freedom to continue performing other functions and operations on the database.

10. Programming support language

SQL is a programming language, but its server supports other basic programming languages such as Go, R, Ruby, C++, Python, Visual Basic, and PHP. On the other hand, MySQL supports Perl, Tcl, and Haskel alongside previously mentioned programming languages.

11. Availability

Microsoft SQL Server is not an open-source software; hence to acquire it, you have to break the bank while MySQL is open-source software; thus, it is freely available to all.

12. Multilingual

The Microsoft SQL Server is available in various languages, while the MYSQL is only available in the English language

13. Canceling query execution

The Microsoft SQL Server provides features that allow query truncation at its execution period without tampering or canceling all the ongoing processes. On the other hand, MySQL does not facilitate query cancellation during the execution period. Unlike the Microsoft SQL Server, the user will need to cancel the entire process manually.

Fundamental differences between SQL and MySQL

  • While MySQL boasts of being the pioneer open-source RDBMS in the early 90s, the SQL language is known for operating different the different RDBMS’s
  • MySQL is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that uses SQL to query the database, while SQL is a query language.
  • MySQL is a database used to store existing data in an organized manner, while SQL, on the other hand, is used to update, access, and manipulate stored data.
  • MySQL facilitates data storage, modification, and management in a tabular format, whereas SQL writes queries for databases.
  • MySQL comes with an integrated tool used to design and build databases known as MySQL Workbench, while SQL does not support any connectors.
  • MySQL receives only frequent updates while SQL follows a standard format where the basic commands and syntaxes used for RDBMS and DBMS do not change a lot.
  • MYSQL supports multiple storage engines and plug-ins, thus providing more flexibility than SQL, which only supports a single storage engine.
  • MySQL is open-source software, can be used freely as it offers robust and rich community support. On the other hand, SQL is not open-source software, meaning to use it, you must incur some const. Therefore, when using this software, you should not expect any community support whenever you encounter problems. SQL users only rely on Microsoft SQL Server support for help in case of any issues.
  • In terms of security data, MySQL can easily modify and manipulate data directly. In addition, while using MySQL, a developer can change and manipulate during the execution period while using binaries. This is not the case for SQL users since the SQL server is more secure, and the process cannot be accessed, modified, or manipulated during the runtime process directly.
  • In MySQL, data backup can be performed with extract SQL statements since the server blocks the DB during the backup session, thus minimizing the chances of getting corrupt data during the switch from one MySQL version to the other. On the other hand, a developer can perform different operations on the database during the backup session since the SQL server is independent and does not rely on the database.

Similarities between SQL and MySQL

Despite the differences already mentioned in this article, there are also some similarities that we find it essential to let you know:

  • Both relate to relational database management
  • Both contain data types
  • They provide aliasing features to developers and other database users
  • They use aggregate functions such as average, count sum, etc
  • Both perform arithmetic, comparison, and logical operations
  • They use the join operation in the table (Left, Inner, Self, Right, Cross)
  • They contain stored views, triggers, indexing, and procedures

Why should you use SQL?

SQL is used whenever you require a data-related task. It is well supported, and it is the most commonly used language by data scientists reading data science.

Why should you use MySQL?

If you are planning to set up a database, then MySQL should come into play. The software is freely available, and anyone can try it out. You can download the open-source software from MySQL official’s website or check out this guide for a comprehensive tutorial on how to use MySQL. Note: to be effective in MySQL; you need to learn the SQL language since it is used to query databases.


As you can see, it doesn’t seem very easy to compare and contrast the differences between MySQL and SQL since they are related (and contain almost the same names). However, the notable critical difference is they do entirely different things, and both can be used individually depending on what the developer or user is trying to achieve. Therefore, this article gives in-depth insights into the differences between SQL and MySQL.

It is important to note that the SQL vs. MySQL debate and discussion are open-ended and should not end in an argument. This is because there are many differences between SQL and MySQL, and they can at times complement each other. The choice and differences between SQL and MySQL trickle down to specific elements such as speed, security, efficiency, storage, and scalability.

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1 comment

Conrad October 21, 2021 - 7:50 PM

You should be ashamed of yourself for publishing this horribly incorrect article. It completely goes off the rails when the author says “SQL is hosted, owned and maintained, and offered by Microsoft.”
“SQL” is a language. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQL
“MySQL” is a database product made by Oracle.
“Microsoft SQL Server” is a database product made by Microsoft.
Both “MySQL” and “Microsoft SQL Server” use versions of SQL.
You cannot compare “SQL” and “MySQL”.
You can only compare “Microsoft SQL Server” and “MySQL”.
Throughout the article, the author keeps shifting the meaning of “SQL” from being the language, to the Microsoft product and back.


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