PostgreSQL vs MySQL: Which Is Right For You And Why

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If you work in data-heavy fields, it’s almost guaranteed that you or a co-worker will use SQL. It’s far and away the leading language for database management and other related fields.

Like other languages, there are innumerable environments designed for SQL use. Picking the best work environment for your project is important, but it can be tricky. MySQL is the most popular option, but there are other contenders as well with their own large communities, such as PostgreSQL. 

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There’s a lot of features to take into account when making your decision. And the needs of your specific project can affect the choice as well. Let’s take a closer look at the two, so you can pick the best choice for you.

What Are MySQL and Postgres Used For?

MySQL and Postgres are both database management systems. These are programs that are designed to handle the retrieval and manipulation of data in a system.

These systems are a godsend for those working in data management, particularly when working with large quantities of data. These systems are used to tie different types of data together in the database for easy use.

They do this through identities and properties assigned to different pieces of data. These are used by the system to tie the points together. This makes it easier to collect and use pieces of otherwise unrelated data. By connecting and combining them in this way, you can use these attributes to easily manage your data in the system.

What is MySQL?

MySQL is the most popular database management system in the world. It is an open-source database manager. It’s what is called a relational database manager. This means that data can be organized in tables and categories based on shared criteria.

This may sound like a given, it wasn’t always the case in most data software. MySQL was one of the first. This is a big reason for its enduring popularity.

Aside from that, MySQL is also open-source, which means it is free to modify. And those modifications can be legally distributed. This means that you are able to make changes to the program to suit your needs. It also means there’s a whole slew of community-created versions designed to better specify the program for specific needs.


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This helps to make MySQL a very versatile and flexible tool. There are some conditions put on this, however. These conditions are called the GNU Public License, or GPL. They’re a set of rules that govern what you can do with open-source software. But within those rules, the sky’s the limit.

What Is PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is a popular alternative platform to MySQL. Like MySQL, it is an open-source platform, making it easy to modify or to find options to fit your specific needs.

One of the great things about Postgre is that its source code is completely free to access. This is a boon for the community, as it means that making changes you might need is not just easy but affordable.

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Postgre runs on most major operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and OSX. It also comes with programming interfaces for many common scripting languages. Among others, it supports scripting in C++, Java, and Python.

You can use these to expand many of its key features. Elements such as data types, functions, and operators can be extended or modified in Postgre.

This helps to make PostgreSQL a versatile tool that can handle just about any situation.

PostgreSQL vs MySQL: What’s the Verdict?

As with most things, there’s no immediate, easy answer to this question. Which one is better largely comes down to the needs of your project and your personal preference. Still, there are some key differences between the two.

Both are open-source options, and both are relational database management systems. MySQL is more popular but by a relatively small margin. Both are popular choices, with a large community and plenty of documentation to help you work.

Postgres can be used on more operating systems than MySQL. MySQL only works on five operating systems; Linux, Windows, Mac OS, Solaris, and FreeBSD. Postgres works on nearly twice as many, including less common OS’s such as Unix and HP-UX. 

This makes PostgreSQL a potentially better choice for businesses that use unusual operating systems on their computers. This is more common than you’d think. Many businesses use operating systems other than Windows and OSx for security or efficiency purposes.

PostgreSQL also offers strong security features. One of these is called automatic failover. This is a feature that allows Postgre to detect imminent server failures and switch to standby to prevent the failure from occurring.

Activating it can take some time, as it is not active by default. But it’s not too hard to set up. Check this page out for a good PostgreSQL Replication and Automatic Failover Tutorial.

Ultimately, the best way to look at this comparison is general strength versus specialized utility. PostgreSQL can be more specialized, with its built-in support for several scripting languages, as well as a variety of operating systems.

But MySQL is the standard for a reason. It’s a powerful tool that can get the job done in nearly every circumstance. Its open-source nature and wide community documentation make it easy to use and easy to learn.

Choose the Best Service for Your Project

At the end of the day, the debate between PostgreSQL vs MySQL comes largely down to your preference and needs. Both of them are strong tools, with wide documentation and support. There isn’t really a wrong answer between them. 

So pick the one that best supports your project. Barring that, pick the one that you feel more comfortable with. If you still need help making that decision, check out the rest of our site. We have plenty of articles to help you make decisions for your work and your life.

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