When users think of an application, they rarely think about where and how the data they see on their screens is stored. However, storing your data most efficiently is a step developer shouldn't overlook. While there's often no right or wrong answer to which type of database you should choose for your application, different databases will give you different benefits and drawbacks.
In this article, we will go over two of the most popular databases on the internet: PostgreSQL and MySQL.
Both databases are free and open for anyone to use, but they have some key differences that could drive you one way or another. From the way data is stored and accessed to more detailed differences such as case sensitivity, both databases provide different advantages and disadvantages to the table.
What is PostgreSQL?
PostgreSQL, more commonly known as Postgres, is an open-source object-relational database management system free for all users. It has over 30 years of active development, and it is pretty popular amongst developers due to its reputation for reliability and performance.
An object-relational database (ORDBMS) is a database management system composed of relational and object-oriented databases. It contains both types of database characteristics, and it is often considered the "middleman" database. The data is stored in a traditional database, but the database system also considers the database as an object-store. Instead of seeing the data as tables and records, this type of database references the data as objects.
Postgres is known for handling complex queries and supporting massive databases. It also allows the user to define custom data types, index types, and functional languages. PostgreSQL also won the Database of the Year Award in 2018 due to its rising popularity.
Popular Postgres users include Apple, Etsy, Facebook, Redhat, Spotify, and Yahoo.
What is MySQL?
MySQL is considered the most popular database management system on the web. It is fast and easy to use, and it is highly scalable - meaning it can attend to the needs of both small and large applications.
A relational database (RDBMS) is a type of database that stores data in several tables. Users can then use these tables with other stored databases. Advantages of relational databases include the different relationships a record can have. One record can have a one-to-one relationship with another record, a many-to-one relationship with other records, or a many-to-many relationship between various objects.
Some main advantages of using MySQL include data security, complete workflow control, and high performance. Users with simple but read-heavy workflows often choose to work with MySQL due to its simple structure.
Popular MySQL users include Facebook, Google, Spotify, NASA, Uber, and Wikipedia.
Key Differences Between PostgreSQL and MySQL
The main difference between the two databases is how they perceive and store data. PostgreSQL is an object-relational database, and it stores the data in objects. MySQL, however, is a relational database, and it treats the stored data as simply standard records.
Due to PostgreSQL's ability to see the records as objects, the database can support different data such as JSON and XML, whereas MySQL can only support JSON objects.
If your team has different types of computers, the databases' operating systems can also be a factor to be considered. MySQL is supported by most operating systems, including Windows, Mac OX, Linux, BSD, UNIX, and AmigaOS. PostgreSQL, however, is not supported by UNIX, z/OS, Symbian, or AmigaOS.
Another key difference between the two databases is their ACID compliance. ACID compliance is the presence of four specific properties within a database that can ensure a transaction is correctly completed punctually. It consists of Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, and Durability. While PostgreSQL is completely ACID-compliant, MySQL is only ACID-compliant when used with specific storage engines.
Performance is another key difference between the databases. MySQL is mostly used for web-based projects that rely mostly on read-only transactions, with straightforward transactions. PostgreSQL, however, is mostly used in large systems where the read/write speed is fundamental to the program.
Developers tend to choose PostgreSQL over MySQL when the time spent writing data is critical to the application. However, in read-only pages (such as Google searches), developers tend to pick MySQL due to its simplicity and velocity for reading data.
An interesting difference between both databases is the SQL compliance both databases hold. While PostgreSQL is largely SQL compliant, MySQL falls behind in that race. MySQL is only partially SQL compliant, missing a few features that SQL brings. For example, MySQL doesn't support check constraint, whereas that is fully integrated within PostgreSQL.
PostgreSQL vs. MySQL Features that could affect business intelligence
Although both databases are good to use, some key differences can affect the overall developer experience. The three main areas of difference between MySQL and PostgreSQL are:
One of the advantages of MySQL is its case insensitivity. You don't need to capitalize your strings in the exact way they show in the database for MySQL to work. MySQL can recognize column names even though they're not properly capitalized. However, PostgreSQL's queries will fail if you don't properly capitalize your columns. However, you can customize your PostgreSQL experience to provide case-insensitive operations.
Default character sets and strings
While PostgreSQL lacks default case-insensitivity, it makes up with the default character sets. With PostgreSQL, you don't need to convert character sets and strings to UTF-8. UTF-8 is one of the most common types of encoding used for electronic communication, encoding all characters with one to four 8-bit code units. MySQL, however, requires you to convert your character sets and strings to UTF-8 manually. UTF-8 is comfortably enclosed on characters found in the English alphabet, so if you store data that doesn't follow the English characters, you might suffer from data loss. This can be a drawback if you take a step outside of the English-only character sets.
IF and IFNULL versus CASE statements
MySQL relishes in being a simple and methodic RDBMS, so it's not a surprise when users can write simple queries. It is common for developers to use IF and IFNULL statements on a query to check for conditionals in the data. An IFNULL function returns a specified value if the expression is NULL and another value if the expression is NOT NULL.
However, PostgreSQL doesn't support those expressions. To perform a similar transaction in PostgreSQL, you'd have to use a CASE statement. The CASE statement works as an IF/ELSE statement in programming languages, with each condition within the CASE statement being a boolean expression.
How Yurbi Can Help with Your PostgreSQL vs. MySQL Concerns
Whether you need PostgreSQL, MySQL, or both for your business, you need a useful tool that would help you leverage and build easy reporting and dashboard methods as your company grows. That’s where we come in, the business intelligence platform: Yurbi.
Yurbi is a tool that would make embedded analytics and business intelligence reporting a breeze, without all the hassles and problems programmers usually experience while looking for a suitable white-label, embedded analytics solution.
For one, Yurbi provides native support for PostgreSQL Drivers and MySQL Drivers. We offer PostgreSQL as an embedded database option for Yurbi. And this includes support for many of the Amazon Web Service offerings of MySQL and PostgreSQL, including RDS. Plus, we have a team that knows both platforms very well.
With Yurbi, they just need to choose which database to use and Yurbi will do the rest in terms of creating multi-tenant secured codeless reports and interactive dashboards.
In addition, Yurbi is much more affordable than most of the competition, but it does not scrimp in terms of quality and performance.
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Don’t worry, and we won’t put you through a high-pressured sales call. As a small business, we want to make sure we’re a good fit for your requirements, just as you want to pick the best product for your team.