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MySQL vs. PostgreSQL

What is the difference?

MySQL and PostgreSQL, also known as Postgres, are both popular open-source relational database management systems (RDBMS) that have been around since the mid-1990s. They can also both be utilized in a commercial environment. While both databases share similarities, they differ in their architectures, features, and performance. In this article, we will compare and contrast the two databases, and highlight their strengths and weaknesses.

What is PostgreSQL?

PostgreSQL is an open-source object-relational database management system (ORDBMS) that provides high reliability, data integrity, and scalability. It supports advanced features such as atomicity, consistency, isolation, and durability (ACID) compliance, stored procedures, full-text search, and multi-version concurrency control – the process by which records are automatically duplicated when needed so that they can be safely read and updated at the same time. It also offers a range of storage engines and replication capabilities to enhance data availability and reduce redundancy. It can be used for various applications, from small-scale web apps to large-scale enterprise systems.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is an open-source relational database management system, used in many web-based applications. It provides a simple and flexible architecture, easy installation and configuration, and high performance. MySQL supports features such as ACID compliance, transactional processing, and indexing for fast query execution.

Key differences between PostgreSQL and MySQL

While both MySQL and PostgreSQL databases share similar SQL syntax, support ACID transactions, and have large user bases, there are some differences between the two. MySQL has a simpler and more flexible architecture than PostgreSQL, making it easier to install and configure. On the other hand, Postgres works well when it comes to extensibility and durability.

User-defined data typesUser-defined data types are not possible in MySQLCustom data types (e.g., arrays, hstore, JSON)
Materialized viewsImplementation is possible but not nativeNative support
IndexesB-Tree, Hash, Full TextB-Tree, Hash, GiST, GIN

Performance is inherently dependent on how indexing is done on the tables that are being queried, irrespective of whether it’s on MySQL or PostgreSQL. Both MySQL and PostgreSQL support a range of index types that are optimized for different types of queries. While we are not going to go through the specifics of each index type, choosing the right index can improve query performance and help optimize your database. It is also worth noting that performance also depends on the characteristics of data as well as whether they have been sanitized before being used.

However, it is important to note that materialized views are not natively supported in MySQL. Materialized views store query results in the database as a physical table, rather than being calculated each time the view is accessed. They are quite useful and provide fast response times to complex queries that are frequently used. This has been proven to be extremely important for such applications. PostgreSQL supports materialized views out of the box. You can define a materialized view in MySQL via spatial indexes.

MySQL and PostgreSQL training

The MySQL documentation and PostgreSQL documentation are both very good places where you can start learning. They offer multiple tutorials, reference manuals, and user guides. In addition, there are several available online courses that can help you get up to speed. Also, if you are interested in becoming a MySQL developer, MySQL courses are available on in their course library. Our best suggestion is to experiment with full hands-on practice, either installing the databases locally or experimenting with running SQL in online sandboxes (such as DB Fiddle).

Get started with PlanetScale

PlanetScale allows you to easily get started with MySQL and can be used as a sandbox environment and a fully scalable commercial database system. If you are already up and running with other database management systems such as PostgreSQL, migrating your schemas from Postgres to MySQL and PlanetScale will immediately unlock massive benefits such as the ability to scale your database.